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Issue Date: January 2008

AnalystWatch: Using your intelligence

January 2008
Michael Thompson, BPM practice director, Butler Group

Business intelligence initiatives have been around since the general uptake of computing in the business world (collect data, store data, manipulate data - it is what computing systems do really well), but they typically provided a historic view of data, which does not map well to current needs.

With the growth of fringe BI areas, such as corporate performance management (CPM), business activity monitoring (BAM), and process performance monitoring (PPM), the requirement is to take realtime data and apply it 'instantly' for more adaptive decision-making.
We hear talk of using BAM in a business performance management system (BPMS) to modify processes 'on-the-fly', which (apparently) will make organisations much smarter. However, when one really looks at the use of these solutions, one finds that organisations are using them for little more than monitoring at the most basic level, which means they are really missing a trick.
All these technologies around the BI space are intended to make decision-making more relevant to the business. But in order for this to become really effective, organisations need to 'join up' the various BI tools.
If we take data collected and stored (traditional BI) and apply this to process, we can build up a more accurate picture of what happened, when it happened, and from that extrapolate why it happened.
Once these three elements are in place, we can then start to look at applying trend analysis techniques to become proactive in our decision-making techniques.
In terms of gathering data (in the broad sense), we need to know how processes were affected by infrastructure issues (the purview of IT systems management), how processes were affected by process 'failure' (the information for which would be gained from the BPM solution), and/or how processes were affected by data inconsistency or non-availability (a data-management issue).
The three elements are inextricably tied together, and for this more proactive use of BI (in the loosest sense of the term), all three have to be managed not only separately but also at the points of intersection.
Relying on a single solution such as BAM to provide all the detail required for decision making is naïve in the extreme, just as to rely on a data warehousing solution in the past failed to address all the needs. Data from all parts of the internal infrastructure (across the whole of the organisation not just the technical aspect) has to be incorporated with external data that might affect the decision-making process.
The key word here is 'process'. Decision-making is itself a process that has to be managed in the same way as any other process. The decision-making tools that come with many BPM solutions are ineffective if taken out of a larger process picture.
Source: Computergram


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