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3 Signs Your Business Would Benefit From Operational Intelligence

Jan 12, 2022 Thomas Dong

Take the Next Step in Your Digital Transformation

If you’re like most businesses, your analytics stack has undergone many changes due to digital transformation (DX). By adopting new technologies and innovations, you’ve been bringing in a wealth of data and uncovering hidden patterns, correlations, and trends. Yet, you may still be looking for better ways to serve your customers and build a more efficient business.

For many companies in their digital transformation journey, a key piece is still missing. Even though they’re collecting and analyzing more data than ever before, there’s the sense that DX has yet to deliver the business agility they truly need. As the world becomes more digitized and fast-paced, teams are looking for ways to keep up. They want to be able to quickly address problems, optimize their operations, and capture new opportunities. Here are a few examples:

  • A product manager for a SaaS offering wants to understand user behavior on key workflows, especially when and why users are spending longer on critical steps and how they got there. She is most interested in users from the top 20 accounts renewing this year. She then wants to get product usage alerts and intervene with targeted in-app messaging when these signs of friction appear.
  • A product manager at a financial services company wants to understand historical purchase affinities between products across different categories by cohort, and then proactively upsell financing solutions to customers based on their account profiles when they are using the mortgage calculator or researching interest rates on their website.
  • A category manager at an online retail company wants to closely monitor sales metrics following a campaign launch, then make real-time pricing, inventory, or promotion adjustments.
  • A digital operations analyst wants to get alerts when a high-value customer calls several times in a short period, so they can direct a customer support representative to personally reach out.
  • A plant operator at a manufacturing facility wants to use IoT sensor data to flag potential equipment failures and initiate proactive maintenance actions, preventing losses from production disruptions.

While DX has delivered many powerful tools, there’s no perfect fit for critical use cases like these. Business intelligence (BI) was designed for historical analysis, not real-time decisions, and thus faces performance and modeling issues when incorporating event data. Monitoring solutions, such as application performance monitoring (APM), focus only on infrastructure and machine data and don’t interoperate with other systems such as Salesforce or Zendesk to pull data for rich business context. Likewise, event-oriented applications (e.g. product analytics) lack data interoperability with other systems, plus are unable to support advanced ad-hoc analytics beyond basic reporting templates.

Instead, what’s needed is a new kind of analytics called Operational Intelligence (OI).  Operational Intelligence is an emerging term that describes how raw event data created in the past seconds, minutes, or hours can be used to drive insights and make decisions. OI is also about analyzing and influencing event patterns that lead to the final states of business entities. While BI is strategic, historical reporting on the final states, OI is tactical, showing you what’s happening now and why — so you can respond to issues or seize opportunities before it’s too late. OI and BI are complementary — like the spinal cord and brain, together making up the central nervous system.

How do I know if my business can benefit from OI?

In general, OI is essential if you’re an operations-intensive business. For example, SaaS providers, eCommerce sites, stock trading platforms, logistics companies, and energy plants could all benefit from OI to power their mission-critical operations.

To get more specific, here are three criteria you can use to determine if OI could start making a difference for your business today.

1. You have a large number of customer and/or machine interactions

OI lets your business make sense of a vast amount of event data. If your raw transaction-level data from either customers or machine interactions is on the scale of terabytes or more, you stand to benefit from OI.

It’s most likely that you’re dealing with data at this scale if you have active customers and partners numbering in the thousands or more, a large digital footprint, and a wide range of products and services. Or, you may have a large number of machine interactions if you’re running a large network of IoT sensors, infrastructure, or other hardware.

2. You need actionable insights now, not later

How time-critical are your operations? Are your product, growth, and business analytics teams always on the lookout for better ways to serve your customers and track key operational business metrics in real time or near-real time? Do your customer support and operations teams live and breathe fast response times? If this sounds like your business, operational intelligence may be an important next step in your digital transformation.

OI can help you react to deviations quickly and attempt corrective actions immediately, such as:

  • Sending helpful emails to users having difficulty using your product
  • Rolling back an upgrade following a drop in usage
  • Blocking certain trading activities due to risk exposure
  • Isolating a network after a security breach

3. You have complex internal processes

Finally, you stand to benefit from OI if your processes have complex moving parts, whether literally or digitally. For example, your manufacturing processes may require orchestration between many machines and systems, or your online payment processes may involve multiple internal services with various interdependencies. OI can help you detect and act on disruptions in these processes — like a broken gas pipeline or a failure in a payment gateway — before they have a significant impact on your business, which can often happen in minutes or hours.

Become an agile real-time enterprise with OI

Operational Intelligence can protect your brand and your bottom line, with benefits that include increasing efficiency of mission-critical operations, reducing operational costs and risks, and improving customer engagement and satisfaction. This often results in increased revenue, customer acquisition, and retention. But more than that, OI can help your business take the next step in its digital transformation and become an agile real-time enterprise.

Big tech companies have ushered in the age of the agile real-time enterprise — think about Uber’s ability to do dynamic pricing, or Amazon’s ability to optimize shipping logistics on the fly. An agile real-time enterprise is event-driven and reacts to events faster than its competitors and at the speed consumers now expect. Data is continuously processed to deliver timely, actionable insights to the people and processes that run the business operations.

When you’re an agile real-time enterprise, you don’t just run current operations better. You’re also able to expand into entirely new businesses. For example, consider how ride-hailing services have been able to move into adjacent domains like food delivery and freight — all built off of the operational systems they put in place for the core business.

In summary, if you aim to be an agile real-time enterprise and your business meets the following three criteria:

  • Large number of customer and/or machine interactions
  • Time-criticality of actionable insights
  • Complex internal processes

… you need Operational Intelligence. Learn about the NetSpring Operational Intelligence platform here, or contact us to try it out for free.

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