RESEARCH & RESOURCES

Real-Time Business Intelligence in the Real World

Five real-world real-time BI use cases show how the technology helps enterprises respond to issues both strategically and tactically.

By Maricel Rivera, Comindware

Although using heavy data warehousing for market analytics is not a new concept, predicting trends to jump into the right situations and grab the right opportunities is considered an indispensable business activity. Since the introduction of near-instant Web response time, responding to today's rapid changes in the most immediate way possible has become necessary.

This is where making use of real-time business intelligence (BI) can help your company stand out from the competition, where your BI system of tools allows you to react to events in real time, as they occur, and not a minute or an hour later. After all, what use is business intelligence for you when competitors have already acted upon it and grabbed market share hours, days, or even months ahead of you?

Real-time BI at Work

Traditional business intelligence has helped improve strategic decisions affecting company performance. It is, however, not enough to completely address the issues plaguing dynamic markets. Enterprise softwarehas given businesses the power to automate many tasks and pool data in ways that buy them more time for knowledge work.

Combining these two capabilities together provides answers needed to carry out business essentials, as in the following examples:

1. Real-time customer engagement

An organization's ability to engage with customers in real timeimproves relationships, customer experience, encourages loyalty, and turns leads into paying clients, even long-term customers.

An example of how real-time business intelligence not just increased profits but actually saved a struggling airline can be exemplified by the "worst to first" transformation of Continental Airlines. Continental invested roughly $30 million in hardware, software, and personnel for real-time business intelligence. In a span of six years, the company realized an ROI of over 1,000 percent, with $500+ million in increased revenues and cost savings.

Continental was able to apply real-time BI in customer engagement operations through better ticket pricing, baggage and customer complaint handling, and more accurate booking and arrival information.

2. Real-time collaboration

For real-time collaboration, AstraZeneca's approximately 250 employees use real-time, business intelligence software for reporting and analyzing sales, market share, product performance, and cost and profit data. This aids them to make better, more effective decisions that, in turn, lead to increased sales and improved market share gains.

3. Real-time transactions

To make better, real-time transactions, Comdata built the FleetAdvance solution. This solution helps commercial transportation fleets determine smarter fueling sources by analyzing and comparing one fueling transaction against other options. By utilizing real-time fueling transaction data through real-time scorecards and dashboards, and historical performance analytics, FleetAdvance is able to provide actionable information that "empowers fleet companies to optimize routes, better manage fuel costs, and make smarter purchasing decisions."

In 2014, TDWI recognized Comdata as a 2014 Best Practice Award Winner in the category of Right-Time Business Intelligence and Analytics for FleetAdvance.

4. Real-time support

In life-or-death emergency situations, getting the right information to the right people at the right time is crucial. And when your business serves the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) sector, delivering real-time business intelligence is, above revenue, a heavier responsibility.

To provide real-time support, Verint has developed Impact 360 for Public Safety to serve dispatch centers, such as one in a Midwest U.S. state that is staffed by 52 dispatchers with communication lines open to 12 police departments, 13 fire departments, and three ambulance services. The data they relay in real time is essential in providing first responders the specific information they need to get to a scene. This information is then saved into recordings for use in staff training, and as evidence in legal proceedings.

5. Real-time reporting and business decisions

The majority of the business software solutions in the market offer real-time reporting functionality to provide snapshots and more detailed insights into how a business is faring. This allows companies to perform real-time decision-making processes critical to their operations.

For example, retail management software Brightpearl uses real-time business intelligence for multichannel inventory management to ensure items that have already been sold in one store channel --such as eBay -- aren't sold again in other channels, such as your e-commerce website. Inventory audit trails and cash flow reports can also be generated in real time.

Google Analytics -- the company's website analytics software --provides site administrators with real-time data aside from past performance analysis. Google Analytics Real-Time shows the number of visitors currently on a site, their locations, the site's traffic sources, and even the top active pages. These statistics help measure the real-time impact of social media campaigns. The data can be used to adjust the placement timing of specific content to reach more viewers. Further, you see if visitors aren't spending as much time as you would like on your site, which can signal it's time to craft more engaging content.

Conclusion

When asolution that satisfies both the strategic and tactical needs of an enterprise is needed, the usefulness of real-time business intelligence flourishes. By making use of the analytical data impact that traditional data warehousing contributes to a company's strategy and the tactical advantage that BI software provides, as shown in these examples, enterprises can respond to real-time issues in both a strategically and tactically impactful way.

Maricel Rivera is a content writer and content manager for Comindware, a software company that delivers work management solutions for project management (Comindware Project) and process management (Comindware Tracker). You can contact the author at maricel.rivera@comindware.com.

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