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The Next Generation of Business Intelligence: Operational BI

; New York Vol. 15, Iss. 5,  (May 2005): 34.

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A business intelligence (BI) system is a key component of a company's IT framework. It is the component that enables business users to report on, analyze and optimize business operations to reduce costs and increase revenues. Most companies use this component for strategic and tactical decision making where the decision-making cycle may span a time period of several weeks (e.g., campaign management) or months (e.g., improving customer satisfaction). Competitive pressures, however, are forcing companies to react faster to changing business conditions and customer requirements. As a result, there is now a need to use BI to help drive and optimize business operations on a daily basis, and, in some cases, even for intraday decision making. This type of BI is usually called operational business intelligence. The objective of this article is to explore the business requirements for operational BI and to review different types of operational BI processing, technologies and products that support those requirements. The objective of operational BI is to make more timely business decisions, and, therefore, it has a close relationship to the subject of real-time or right-time BI processing.1

Types of IT and BI Processing

IT systems support three main types of application processing (see Figure 1): business transaction (BTx) processing, BI processing and collaborative processing. BTx processing drives day-to-day business operations and supports business activities such as order entry, inventory control, shipping, billing and so forth. BI processing reports on and analyzes BTx processing, and provides information about how well this processing is meeting business requirements. Business users employ the output produced by BI applications to optimize BTx processing to more closely match business goals and requirements. This optimization process involves discussions between business experts about possible ways of improving business processes. The interaction between these business users is enabled by collaborative processing.

In a traditional...