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Executive Summary

Using Operational Business Intelligence for Intra-Day Analysis and Decision Making


Business intelligence (BI) is all about delivering the right information in the right format to the right people at the right time so they can make effective and timely business decisions. BI applications have evolved to focus on operational BI – the integration of BI functionality within daily business operations. Operational BI is the use of BI to manage and optimize the day-to-day business with the ability to modify the business intra-day. The goal is a BI solution that reduces latency at one or more levels of the decision cycle – data collection, analysis,and action – and results in better, faster decisions based on up-to-date, accurate, detailed operational data.

Components of an operational BI solution include data integration, encapsulation of the business model in tailored business views of the data, easy-to-use yet sophisticated reporting and analysis tools, decision automation technologies, and the ability to implement BI functionality as reusable services.

In this report, we present case studies describing four organizations that have implemented operational BI solutions to improve the effectiveness of business decisions. Each is a customer of a sponsor of this report: Interstate Hotels & Resorts (Applix), The Hillman Group (Information Builders), The ODS Companies (Sybase), and a property & casualty insurance company (Syncsort).

These customers described key steps in implementing their operational BI solutions – getting top management support, ensuring business ownership of and commitment to the BI solution, ensuring a balance between short- and long-term BI goals, starting off with the right resources, ensuring data quality and integrity, making sure you have the right data structure and metadata, delivering a robust system, and providing comprehensive user support.

The major benefit of the operational BI solution is better and faster business decisions. Additional benefits include empowered users, more effective management, faster access to high-quality data, improved customer relations, and an overall increase in agility and flexibility to adapt to changing business requirements.

For these customers, current operational BI solutions provide a solid platform for future enhancements. Examples include extending the BI environment to other areas within the company, expanding the use of advanced analysis techniques, integrating BI with business processes, updating BI data more frequently, and continuing to build more flexibility into the BI solution.

Important operational BI trends include creating a centralized BI environment to provide a single view of the business; flexible schema design; on-demand, ad hoc, self-service reporting; integration of reporting and analysis with sophisticated data visualization capabilities; integration of BI with the enterprise portal; increasing focus on advanced, predictive analytics; and encapsulation of BI functionality as a reusable service. The study results highlight the significance of operational BI as a mission-critical business process that adds value and enhances an organization’s overall agility.

Read the entire study.