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April 22, 2015

Unlock Insight with Real-Time Business Intelligence

by Colin Quinn

Real-time data collection

Real-time business intelligence starts with up-to-the-minute collection of data inputs to kick off the business intelligence process. Of course, not all inputs need to be collected in real-time - for instance, information like product numbers, customer number, or customer location remains perfectly fine. However certain data points need to be updated much more often, in order to have an impact on operations and performance. Depending on the type of business, this may include customer orders, manufacturing data, financial transactions, etc.

Real-time processing

The major predicament of real-time business intelligence is different data sources. Not not all data enters the data warehouse at the same time, and because it is not refreshed at the same rate as other sources, updating the data analysis and reference structures becomes a challenge.

With the requirement for real-time processing, reports, graphs, dashboards and other outputs often need to be refreshed on-demand. Not every data set can be pre-calculated, and drill-down requests from users are expected to run much faster.

Another challenge real-time BI brings is the instability of the data set. Between the moment a report is produced and the moment a drill-down is requested, the underlying data may have been updated, rendering the outputs inconsistent.

Real-time insight

Unlike reports-based business intelligence, where pre-defined reports, graphs and charts are produced and published at predefined time intervals, real-time business intelligence must make its outputs available on-demand. Users, but even more often programs and applications, need to be able to request specific information by making calls to the business intelligence platform.

Real-time use of insight

Of course, the key to success in real-time business intelligence is not the underlying technology, but how the resulting insight will be utilized.

Reports and dashboards, the traditional insight provided by business intelligence and consumed in the demos, boardrooms and meetings, is suddenly irrelevant. They do still remain essential to measure the overall performance of the business. But, the individuals most impacted by this new, faster insight, are the workers and the people on the ground, who now will be able to make faster, better informed decisions.

Montcheuil, Yves. "The Drive toward Real-time Business Intelligence." Web log post. InfoWorld. IDG, 13 Mar. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
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