Real-time business intelligence (RTBI) is the process of delivering information about business operations as they occur. Real time means near to zero latency and access to information whenever it is required.
The speed of today’s processing systems has moved classical data warehousing into the realm of real-time. The result is real-time business intelligence. Business transactions as they occur are fed to a real-time business intelligence system that maintains the current state of the enterprise. The RTBI system not only supports the classic strategic functions of data warehousing for deriving information and knowledge from past enterprise activity, but it also provides real-time tactical support to drive enterprise actions that react immediately to events as they occur. As such, it replaces both the classic data warehouse and the enterprise application integration (EAI) functions. Such event-driven processing is a basic tenet of real-time business intelligence.
In this context, real-time means a range from milliseconds to a few seconds after the business event has occurred. While traditional business intelligence presents historical data for manual analysis, real-time business intelligence compares current business events with historical patterns to detect problems or opportunities automatically. This automated analysis capability enables corrective actions to be initiated and/or business rules to be adjusted to optimize business processes.
RTBI is an approach in which up-to-a-minute data is analyzed, either directly from Operational sources or feeding business transactions into a real time data warehouse and Business Intelligence system. RTBI analyzes real time data.
Real-time business intelligence makes sense for some applications but not for others – a fact that organizations need to take into account as they consider investments in real-time BI tools. Key to deciding whether a real-time BI strategy would pay dividends is understanding the needs of the business and determining whether end users require immediate access to data for analytical purposes, or if something less than real time is fast enough.
Evolution of RTBI
In today’s competitive environment with high consumer expectation, decisions that are based on the most current data available to improve customer relationships, increase revenue, maximize operational efficiencies, and yes – even save lives. This technology is real-time business intelligence. Real-time business intelligence systems provide the information necessary to strategically improve an enterprise’s processes as well as to take tactical advantage of events as they occur.
All real-time business intelligence systems have some latency, but the goal is to minimize the time from the business event happening to a corrective action or notification being initiated. Analyst Richard Hackathorn describes three types of latency:
- Data latency; the time taken to collect and store the data
- Analysis latency; the time taken to analyze the data and turn it into actionable information
- Action latency; the time taken to react to the information and take action
Real-time business intelligence technologies are designed to reduce all three latencies to as close to zero as possible, whereas traditional business intelligence only seeks to reduce data latency and does not address analysis latency or action latency since both are governed by manual processes.
Some commentators have introduced the concept of right time business intelligence which proposes that information should be delivered just before it is required, and not necessarily in real-time.
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