The differences between Operational Intelligence (OI) and Business Intelligence (BI) can be confusing. Just the name, Business Intelligence sounds like Nirvana. Show of hands, who doesn’t want their business to be intelligent? No, the names are fairly ambiguous so let’s turn to Google define to shed some light on their meaning;
Business intelligence, or BI, is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyze an organization’s raw data. BI as a discipline is made up of several related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting.
Operational intelligence (OI) is a category of real-time dynamic, business analytics that delivers visibility and insight into data, streaming events and business operations.
These definitions are helpful, but I think the picture above really illustrates the differences quite clearly. Business Intelligence comes after the fact which is illustrated by looking in the rear view mirror of a car. Therefore, it’s helpful to think about BI as a reference to where you’ve been or what’s happened in the past. Yes, you can store information in a data mart or data warehouse, and you can “mine that data”, but that doesn’t fundamentally change the fact that the information you are looking at or analyzing occurred sometime in the past.
On the other hand, operational intelligence is represented in the above photograph as the front windshield of a car depicting what’s happening right now in real-time. If you spot a large pothole in the distance, OI will alert you to that fact, and enable you to make a course correction to avoid ruining your alignment; whereas, BI will only let you know that you had driven through a pothole as your car is wobbling down the road from all the damage.
Most businesses have the potential to leverage Operational Intelligence for competitive gain, but many are still stuck in the past with traditional BI tools. If you want to really crank up your business, I say it’s time to get real-time and discover what a paradigm shift of moving to OI can do for your business.