Best Practices, Innovation
Are You Running an Intelligent Business?
Business intelligence is a buzzword in many circles these days. But is that the same thing as an intelligent business?
Knowing the difference is the first step toward turning any organization, no matter the sector or size, into a sustainable, scalable business.
By the simplest definition, an intelligent business is one that measures facts and verifiable data against predetermined performance indicators. The result of this analysis is the basis for the company’s strategic decisions.
What Is an Intelligent Business?
Breaking down that definition a bit, there are three primary parts of a business that need to be considered:
- business processes,
- stakeholders, and
Each plays a large part in the success of the company as a whole, and if not given appropriate consideration, each can also lead to failure.
To contrast, Gartner defines business intelligence (BI) as:
“Business intelligence (BI) is an umbrella term that includes the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance.”
So, BI forms a crucial piece of the backbone of an intelligent business, but there are more moving parts to consider than just the technology and tools.
The processes that comprise the business and the people responsible for those processes are also crucial to a company’s success, as are the metrics used to measure and quantify that success.
It’s the combination of all of these factors that drive business success. Or, if not properly accounted for, can lead a business to ruin.
This article won’t pretend to cover any single aspect of an intelligent business in detail, each could fill a whitepaper of its own. Rather, the goal here is to give an overview of these aspects so that you can assess your own organization and begin taking steps that move it toward becoming an intelligent business.
Putting the OODA Loop to Use in Business
Doing business in today’s global marketplace is difficult. There are many limitations on conventional business practices and processes imposed as a result of developing technologies and geopolitical issues, including the following:
- Limited visibility into the end-to-end supply chain
- Situation awareness that only extends to the edge of the analyst’s own department
- Global regulations
- Increasing competition from large-scale multinational corporations
The best way to work with, rather than against, these structural issues is to combine the power of BI solutions with real-time data to make your entire operation situation aware.
Borrowing from the idea of “situational awareness”, used by militaries and governments around the world, businesses are beginning to see the benefit of using the OODA Loop to develop their own intelligent business plans.
OODA stands for (the descriptions are our own, selected to reflect a business setting, rather than a military one):
- Observe: Collect real-time data (such as Process Mining)
- Orient: Analyze and contextualize that data
- Decide: Use that contextualized information to chart a plan of action
- Act: Make changes, improvements, etc. based on the above analysis
By following this outline, BI analysts and project leads can be better assured of a sound business strategy, grounded in fact and supported by the data.
Using the OODA method can help guide a business toward intelligence in the three areas outlined in the introduction: business processes, stakeholders, and metrics.
Observe by using a solution like Process Mining, collecting real-time data about the current state of business processes has become much faster and more accurate. The interactive process map generated by Process Mining software is the key to step 2, Orient.
This is when your analysts take that process data and comb through it for actionable insights into the processes, where the bottlenecks are, where informal workarounds can be eliminated by better documentation, and so on.
For the Decision step, take those insights and develop process improvement initiatives designed to eliminate inefficiencies and increase ROI for the process. And finally, Act by deploying those changes to the real world.
Observe that people form the center of any business, no matter how automated or decentralized. Part of any BI project should be watching how the changes being implemented are affecting the workforce.
Orient, where possible include that workforce in the design and planning phase. This will increase compliance and ease buy-in.
Decide to use the input provided by the employees, allowing the BI team to move forward with the design and implementation stages.
Act by rolling out improvements and other changes incrementally to further demonstrate that the well-being of the people involved is a priority.
Observe that at this stage, it’s imperative to have a full view of the performance indicators that will guide a BI project.
Orient by collecting these KPIs early on and documenting them in the same data store as the process data (for example), puts the metrics in context, and means that whoever needs access to data to measure any particular KPI will have what they need.
Decide that once KPIs are determined, and data is collected, this is when BI software comes into the picture in analyzing and organizing the results. How the data is going to be used and what the exact desired outcome is.
Act to monitor the selected KPIs for compliance on a regular schedule, and issue reports to the involved stakeholders to ensure ongoing compliance.
The topic of creating and sustaining an intelligent business is both broad and deep, with specific subjects ranging just as widely as the imagination can travel.
At this early stage, the key is to remember that it’s about more than simply picking the best BI software package for your company. By approaching business decisions strategically, and using the OODA Loop as an outline, you can better ensure sustainable, scalable business practices can be put in place.
And in the long run, that’s the true foundation of an intelligent business.
Still not sure how Process Mining can contribute to an intelligent business? Let us tell you.
Jana Gregusova Process Consulting Leader at Minit
27. 08. 2019