What Is Operational Intelligence? A Detailed Introduction

Sep 7, 2020

Every sector has a group of companies working to serve the same purpose. The automobile giants want to build great vehicles, and the companies in the food industry want to provide healthy and tasty food. But have you ever wondered why some companies are doing better than others? How are some of them more successful than the competition? Their success is achieved mostly by making the right decisions at the right time.

People have adopted different strategies, techniques, and technologies to help them make the right decisions. And operational intelligence has brought the winds of change to decision making. This blog post will give you a detailed introduction to it.

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What Is Operational Intelligence?

Operational intelligence (OI) is an approach that gives you real-time information about what’s happening in your business. It can help you make quick decisions that make your operations better.

Let’s take a look at how things were before operational intelligence came along. Back then, if you needed to make decisions, you had to monitor your business over a period of time. After that, you could make graphs and charts that enabled you to visualize things more easily. Only then could you decide how to improve your business. One problem with this approach was that you had to wait weeks or months to collect enough data. The other problem was that any decisions you made would be based on the data obtained over a period of time in the past. Because of this, sometimes your decisions might not produce the results you expected. This approach is commonly known as business intelligence.

Both business intelligence and operational intelligence help you make better decisions. You can also say that operational intelligence is the successor to business intelligence. But the key difference is that when you use operational intelligence, you look at real-time data and make decisions based on it. OI is activity-centric, which means that the decisions are made based on what the user is doing on the application. And when you use business intelligence, you are looking at data from the recent past. BI is data-centric and depends on databases where various business data and metrics are stored. The main outcome of OI is that when you look at real-time data, you will be able to make decisions when it matters the most. Now that you know what operational intelligence is, the next thing lined up is showing you how it works.

How Operational Intelligence Works

Operational intelligence is not a protocol or an architecture but an approach. Hence, there’s no particular process flow. So let’s look at OI by breaking it down to its core components. A typical OI system has collectors, analytics, and an action dashboard.

Typical OI system has collector

Data Collector

Data is the primary part of OI. If there’s no data, you can’t do anything except start to work on collecting data. Collectors are the tools that collect useful data that can help you understand what’s happening. This data is usually obtained through server logs, application logs, and application events. You can set up event loggers in applications or systems where you think you’ll find useful data and then fetch data from there. This collection of data should happen continuously so you can obtain real-time updates. “Real-time” doesn’t mean instantly, though. You should consider the latency of loggers, the transmission of data, etc. So when I say “real-time,” there could be a delay of a few milliseconds to seconds.


The data you get from the collectors is in a raw format. In most cases, it’s just logs, which means you’ll see hundreds of lines per second. It’s very difficult, nearly impossible, to make sense of it. That’s where analytics comes in. Analytic tools are attached to the other side of the connector. The data from the collectors is sent to analytics tools, where it is processed and visualized for you. You can also add a segregator in between the collector and the analytic tool to filter out unnecessary data before visualizing it. Visualizing data gives you a clear picture of what’s happening. You can create different graphs based on your use cases.

Action Dashboard

Once you have collected and visualized data, you’re at the stage where you can make decisions. The action dashboard helps you make and implement decisions quickly. Let’s take an example of stock trading. Suppose you have an OI system to make trading decisions for you. This system collects data from stock exchange sites, processes it, and visualizes it. Based on this, you have to decide what to do with your stocks. Now, if you have a dashboard, you can automate this task as well. Action dashboards come in handy when you have predefined actions for certain cases. You can also use AI to automatically take the action on your behalf instead of you doing it manually.

This is how operational intelligence helps you make faster decisions. As you might have noticed, you’ll have to do some setting up to get it working. But it’s worth it.

Benefits of Operation Intelligence

Along with allowing you to make faster decisions, operational intelligence can benefit you in a few more ways.

Putting Data to Use

Using OI helps you make better use of your logs. Most systems and applications that generate logs are just sitting there. When you use OI, you can make something out of these logs to improve your business. It also enables you to attend to any problems or bottlenecks and fix them quickly.


OI helps you get insights into your business. You can understand how your business operates and how it responds to particular changes. This can help you define action plans for the future.


OI can also help you improve security. You can set up OI to detect and record patterns of attack. This way, you can understand which part of your product is more vulnerable and to what kind of attacks. Integrating IO with an intrusion detection system can also be considered.

Operation Intelligence and VSM

Value Stream Management (VSM) is the process of understanding the value that each component or step in a process adds to the final outcome. Systems, applications, and processes are divided into smaller parts. Not all the parts add equal value to the final outcome. Some might be adding more value and some less. When you understand this, you can analyze where your resources are being wasted. And then you can optimize your business, system, or application to be more efficient. As discussed earlier, OI deals with real-time data. You can use OI for VSM, which can help you reduce waste and optimize faster.

The Easiest Way to Implement Intelligence

Setting up BI or OI from scratch is a challenging task. You will face a lot of hurdles during development. You may wonder what’s the point of working on something from scratch when you already have something ready. Because, of course, you already have a lot of products that have gone through many runs to deliver what’s expected. One such tool that could help you with operational and business intelligence is Plutora. Its team has put in a lot of effort to simplify software delivery. Plutora gives you clear visibility and control over your data and also lets you automate tasks. Whether you need a tool for BI or OI, or whether you’re looking to move from BI to OI, Plutora has everything you need. From data collection and visualization to dashboards, you get it all. If you want to see what I’m talking about, I suggest you try Plutora at least once. You can get a free demo here.

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