‘One truth’: operational intelligence

Knowing ‘where’ enhances performance, efficiency and customer experience according to Esri UK. This slogan refers to the use of operational intelligence (OI), which enables organisations to better understand and apply the accelerating volume of data being generated.

As Esri puts it: ‘Operational Intelligence is critical to success in the new environment. Organisations require the ability to assimilate, analyse and act on, an accelerating volume of data across a growing range of data feeds, whilst simultaneously addressing strategic demands’.

>See also: 5 steps to digital transformation using GIS

OI systems provide a set of event-oriented information and analytics processes operating across the extended organisation that enable managers to:

• See all operational information in a common view.
• Instantly assign resources and fixes.
• Delegate selected decisions to the system, based on defined business rules and criteria.
• Easily share relevant information with all stakeholders, internal and external.
• Automate routine tasks, reducing manual effort and improving accuracy.

The tool is essential in increasing efficiency, reducing costs and improving collaboration with the overall goal of improving the customer experience, through better communication and overall performance.

Many organisations turn to business intelligence (BI) to unlock the unprecedented access to data. However, BI is ‘simply’ an analysis of historical data, whereas OI uses both historical data and live real-time data to produce a more dynamic and accurate picture for an organisation in any given scenario.

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Indeed, for operational intelligence to work effectively it needs access to historical data, which – through predictive analytics – can be used to recognise patterns of change to benefit organisations in a number of ways. This, combined with real-time data provides an unparalleled situational awareness operational picture.

This ability is crucial in an increasingly changing environment. As Esri describes it: ‘the acceleration of change demands ever quicker decisions, often in close to real-time. Managers now need to build on their existing capabilities with greater insight into live operations to deliver effective tactical responses and build agility into the enterprise.’

The Environmental Agency is one such organisation that has benefited from the integration of OI into its operations. Nick Jones, Senior Advisor at Environment Agency (EA) discussed this at a roundtable hosted by Esri UK. He said that the EA was using operational intelligence on top of existing infrastructure and data sets (historical) for field improvements.

He continued that the use of operational intelligence was integral in responding to a major response, both before, during and after an event. This sentiment was echoed by both Andy Nicholson, Asset Data Manager at Wessex Water and Dave Abernethy-Clark, Constable at North Wales Police.

>See also: Making mobile transformation fit business models

Jones said that OI, pre-incident, combined with pre-existing spatial data meant the organisation could move the necessary “kit” around the country more strategically. The integration of GPS tags onto these devices also improved the location data being received.

During an incident, these strategically placed pieces of equipment then provide real-time information, which is incredibly valuable in knowing where to designate resources in the case of a flood, for example.

This real-time information, powered by OI, helps the EA in an emergency situation revise alerts to the public and/or police, while alerting the government and advising the best course of action.

Post-incident, all the data is recorded into the historical data archives, which is then used to predict better forecasts and models.

In this case, OI is not solving the problem, it is providing the right information for people on the ground to do so, according to Nicholson.

>See also: Bridging the business intelligence and analytics gaps

Ultimately, OI allows thousands of data sources to be collated in one data set. The subsequent extraction, and then visualisation of that data leads to improved results. In this case, the benefits are felt in the reaction to disasters affecting the public, with the aim of improving the response time regarding future incidents.

The real-time visualised (map) data provides, as Abernethy-Clark suggested, the relevant organisations “with bespoke solutions” to a crisis. Esri’s platform gives organisations access to this necessary GIS data.

At the roundtable, the case studies provided by Esri were a combination of public and private bodies. Indeed, in the enterprise – operational intelligence – provides the agility required to respond to the challenging consumer, competitive, and regulatory demands of today’s increasingly disruptive environment.

‘The opportunity for location-based operational intelligence extends across public and private sector organisations that manage, or provide services over, our national infrastructure. By adding context, location adds value, elevating raw data from across an operation to become actionable intelligence.’


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...