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Operational Intelligence Panel

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A panel of customers (TXU Energy, Pfizer, NY State Dept Taxation and Finance – one of my favorite Decision Management stories and included in this white paper for instance) discussed how to link processes to performance management with Daryl Plummer  of Gartner and the folks from ebizQ. No attempt to make a coherent story, just bullet points that came out during the panel:

  • Operational Intelligence – real-time, in context help based on monitoring and understanding the events generated during process execution.
    Consider the process of driving to a client’s office. After the fact you might generate a trip report but operational intelligence is provided by your GPS system.
  • Three areas – monitor (gather information), analyze (gain insight), act (execute and manage processes)
  • Operational intelligence (said Pfizer) is time to act.  If they could make a prediction but not act on it they don’t do anything. If they have several weeks, thye use BI. But if they have to act in real-time they use operational intelligence.
  • NY State is focused on personal tax returns and using predictive analytics as part of detecting questionable returns and handling enforcement/collections.
  • TXU is using operational intelligence as part of making sure customers get what they need – moving from being reactive to customer complaints to being proactive
  • Traditional approach to collections is very heavy handed and one-size-fits-no-one. Using predictive analytics they can apply the right amount of pressure, follow the right process and get more money collected while also delivering better customer service.
  • Privacy is a concern of course and it is important to manage the access controls to data.
    I would add that building predictive models is a great way to do this as the predictive model does not need personally identifiable data to make a prediction
  • Situational context is essential to operational intelligence – more information, presented in context, presented in real-time and ACTED on
  • You can provide too much data and it is important to present in a way that aids decision-making and action taking. Using predictive analytics and ongoing decision analysis is essential – use predictive analytics to simplify and amplify the data and ongoing decision analysis to see how well decisions are being made
    I would add that you can “Begin with the Decision in mind” to focus this.
  • Tools used included Vitria M3O, IBM research for predictive modeling (along with a business rules/analytic decision management system), SAP and an SAP DW but moving towards BAM tools
  • Analytics seem to have come later – process automation (and rules-based decision management) is the starting point and data is gathered in parallel with the idea of bringing them together coming later.
  • In all the operational intelligence scenarios, having different groups talk and collaborate was both important and a great side-effect
  • Advice:
    • Understand the process, and understand it well, before you start
    • Get buy in and sponsorship before you start
    • Getting moving, overcoming the inertia and investment hurdles, is difficult
    • Once it starts to work then controlling and improving it continually becomes essential
    • Make sure that IT and business agree what a process is and can collaborate around the business and IT steps in a process
    • Be aware of the cultural shift of having business and IT working together and make sure you have people on both sides who want to make it work
    • Executive sponsorship matters
    • Can take a while – years – to get organizations fully on board with this kind of change
  • Thoughts about the future
    • Social BPM is coming and is important as companies need to improve collaboration and link what people do to business outcomes
    • Provide software that uses new hardware, new mobile devices, appropriately
    • Using technology to make it easy for consumers to do the right thing
  • Takeaways or best practices
    • Start small, find a person with a problem and a vision, solve that problem first and stay focused
    • Know where you are before you start improving – understand the processes involved
    • Push a little – don’t let people tell you “it can’t be done”
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  • Shalin Shah May 11, 2011, 11:24 am

    Great notes. I would only add that Operational Intelligence also enables decision-makers to respond to changing business conditions, in real-time, increasing operational efficiency and overall responsiveness. With the result being higher service, higher customer satisfaction and retention, reduced operating costs, and increased revenues.