Operational BI: Getting 'Real Time' About Performance

Operational business intelligence is about delivering information to people when and how they need it in the context of business need. Explore the five best practices best-in-class companies are using to drive faster, better decision making and higher customer satisfaction.
Organization. Best-in-Class companies are establishing organizational capabilities at both a corporate culture level and at an individual role-based level. As noted in Aberdeen's July 2007 research, "Delivering Actionable Information to the Enterprise,” Best-in-Class companies have consistently shown a greater tendency to build and support a cultural approach toward information delivery and its affect on company performance. Best-in-Class companies are outperforming Industry Average and Laggard organizations with the establishment of both cultural awareness and individual involvement in operational performance. This also supports the leading Best-in-Class strategy of aligning operational KPIs with strategic goals.

Knowledge Management. Building a corporate culture at a high level is not enough to achieve Best-in-Class performance. Best-in-Class companies have also supported this culture with knowledge management activities that provide end-users with the training and resources necessary to attain success. This includes the establishment of a BI center of excellence (or competency center) to continuously steer BI strategies in the right direction, ensure involvement of all affected business units, and drive the creation of training programs designed to meet specific end-user needs.

Performance Management. Operational BI initiatives offer the ability to detect performance changes automatically, and therefore take corrective action before real harm is done. This is particularly important in customer-facing activity. Companies that can detect and act upon performance changes (such as customer satisfaction and response time) are therefore able to identify and solve problems, often before the customer is aware of them.

Top Five BIC Capabilities
Top Five BIC Capabilities
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Technology. When asked about the nature of the operational BI technology and service enablers currently in use, Best-in-Class companies reported a significant advantage within several categories (see "Top-Five BIC Technology Capabilities," at right). Of the top-five enabling technologies and services, operational forecasting was rated highest. This is important in understanding how Best-in-Class companies are approaching operational BI projects. It is not just the access, calculation, and delivery of data that is important; the ability to forecast operational performance pertains to collecting operational data and using it to predict short-term results. For example, marketers are learning to forecast operational results of online campaigns by using real-time and near real-time data as it becomes available from current campaign activity.

Best-in-Class organizations are planning to drop their reliance on static reporting and Microsoft Excel in favor of a broad range of technology enablement. The planned technology investments, such as automated alert reporting and notification, align with planned capability investments. As companies strive to attain a faster time-to-information and time-to-decision, they are therefore also heavily investing in technologies and services that deliver enhanced automation capability.

Whether a company is trying to move its operational performance from Laggard to Industry Average, or Industry Average to Best-in-Class, AberdeenGroup offers advice on actions will help spur the necessary improvements in Chapter Three of "Operational BI: Getting 'Real-Time' About Performance," which is available as a free download at this link (registration required).

David Hatch, is Research Director, Business Intelligence, at AberdeenGroup. Write him at [email protected].