Case Study: Learn Some Lessons From TXU Energy's Operational Intelligence System

Q: What is Operational Intelligence?
A: Operational Intelligence (OI) is the next-generation real-time business analytics and process management discipline, which brings together real-time analytics and business event management capabilities into a complete intelligence platform. Operational Intelligence helps organizations make smarter decisions with complete and up-to-the-second information in time to maximize impact. By providing deep analysis of a wide variety of business events and data from both streams and transactional data silos, OI helps organizations visualize operations through advanced dashboards in a comprehensive manner, in-context, with real-time insight into business performance and health so that immediate policy-based action can be taken.

Operational Intelligence solutions solve specific business problems, analyzing live event feeds and transactional data to deliver real-time, actionable information to live, role-based dashboards. Operational Intelligence analyzes complex patterns, making possible the rapid detection of new types of threats and opportunities from volumes of streaming data. Operational Intelligence provides real-time behavior-based analysis, statistical trending, as well as opportunity assessment and scoring.

Q: Who needs Operational Intelligence?
A: Business Leaders: Operational Intelligence enables business leaders to quickly make informed decisions in time to maximize impact. With OI, role-based dashboards give executives real-time insight into the performance of the company. Simultaneously, business operations leaders can see an end-to-end view of the operation, in real-time. With no coding required, business analysts can create an executive dashboard in a matter of minutes.

IT Departments: Operational Intelligence can be layered on top of existing technologies and solutions, such as ERP systems, to provide visibility into both business and technical operations. Operational Intelligence provides IT departments with a single view into the organization’s data silos. OI can process massive volumes of incoming data and events to help identify performance issues, broken processes, relationships, trends, and key insights, all in a cost-effective manner. With an OI solution in place, it becomes faster and easier to deliver what the business wants and needs.

Q: What is the difference between Operational Intelligence and Business Intelligence?
A: The primary difference between OI and business intelligence (BI) is that OI provides insight and allows for action in “operational time” versus “planning time.” In other words, OI allows corrective action to be taken while a transaction is still in process – e.g., while a customer is still on the line with a customer service representative.

Another key difference between OI and BI is the nature of the underlying data, event, or transaction that is analyzed. Whereas BI typically allows for analytical processing after the fact with historical data stored in data marts or data warehouses, OI performs real-time analysis as business events flow through various systems and networks.

Operational Intelligence is designed to provide the real-time, event-driven analytics for current operations teams as well as complement existing BI data stores. This real-time information can be acted upon in a variety of ways: alerts can be sent or executive decisions can be made using real-time dashboards. Operational Intelligence solutions use real time information to take automated action based on predefined rules. In this way, security measures or exception management processes can be initiated.

Q: What are the crucial components / capabilities of an Operational Intelligence solution?
A: The crucial components of an OI solution include analytic computing and event correlation capabilities, business process and policy management capabilities, and dashboard creation. From a capability standpoint, multi-dimensional analysis, pattern detection, trend calculations, and filtering on high volumes of real-time events and historical data are essential for the higher-level analysis expected of data-driven operational teams.

Q: What is business process visibility?
A: A process is “visible” when an operational manager, analyst, or executive can see, in-context, how business is impacted or how it will be impacted by the failure of an event in an enterprise business activity or service. Part of this visibility into the process is provided by visual alerts that are organized in a way to identify the root cause and close the loop with remediation capabilities.

For example, at a high-level, a summary dashboard provides an end-to-end view of the customer experience, defined by service-level agreements (SLAs) and defined in key performance indicators (KPIs) that span multiple source systems (Web, CRM, and Call Center) and across disciplines (Marketing, Sales, and Support). Operational Intelligence solutions address these visibility challenges and are designed to create business flexibility and agility from traditional IT process touch points from traditionally inflexible systems and environments.

Q: How does Operational Intelligence address Big Data in comparison to other technologies?
A: Operational Intelligence provides real time, continuous analysis of information and historical data. In real time, OI can analyze high volume data from multiple sources yielding unique insight into business and operational performance. The result is the ability to immediately take action to resolve issues and meet Service Level Agreements.

Operational Intelligence provides seamless connectivity to traditional and non-traditional information sources including JMS, RSS, web services and databases. Advanced Operational Intelligence products will process XML data at speeds similar to traditional query and development languages, providing insight by capturing the streaming data and revealing it in a consumable, user-friendly context to business users.

Operational Intelligence can quickly tap into any data from anywhere: internal applications and systems, partner and social media, structured, semi-structured and unstructured data. Operational Intelligence also allows users to manage and balance large volumes of real-time events across multiple analytics engines. As a result, OI provides the durability, scalability and availability of feeds, facilitating real time analysis and elevating high-volume feeds to the status of first class information.