The Difference Between Business Intelligence and Actionable Intelligence

Udi Segall, Director of Business Development, Qognify // March 02, 2016
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The term Actionable Intelligence is defined as “information that can be acted upon, with the further implication that actions should be taken.” While Business intelligence (BI), is often described as “the transformation of data into relevant and useful information for the purpose of business analysis” They sound similar, but does that mean they both deliver the same value? Not necessarily.

Let me explain why. BI applications that by definition deal with big data, automate previously labor intensive tasks to accelerate points 1 and 2 shown in the below figure. In other words, BI applications provide us with insights that improve our situational awareness with respect to the situation in hand.

Actionable intelligence goes a few steps further.  That means that the insights uncovered in steps 1 and 2 below are used to select the business process (step 3), which is designed specifically to mitigate the impact of the event. Acceleration of the alarm notification (step 4) is achieved with collaboration tools that streamline information sharing with field personnel using mobile apps/tablets. In turn, this accelerates the overall response time as field personnel are provided insightful guidance.

Figure 1 below illustrates the difference.

Actionable Intelligence Graph

Figure 1: Actionable intelligence reduces incident handling time

In other words, while BI solutions help us assess the situation faster, actionable intelligence solutions go further. They provide us with a meticulous step-by-step mitigation plan, which leverages an organization’s past experience and guide field personnel and operators’ actions based on the best practices that have yielded the optimal results.

We know that we can mitigate the risk and damage caused by an event based on timely and effective response and thus the length of the business disruption.  In figure 2 below, we see just how costly ‘time’ is, both in terms of response time and length of business disruption, and the potential savings that can be realized using actionable intelligence solutions.

business value

Figure 2: Business value as a function of time

Going Beyond BI

In my experience, many vendors stop after presenting the results of their analysis on a business issue, or more specifically at the end of the BI process. I believe organizations must be able to immediately execute a business process to address the uncovered issue. Just “doing big data” is not sufficient. Actionable intelligence solutions combine big data, analytics and workflows, providing organizations the ability to execute a well-planned, step-by-step business process. In short, actionable intelligence reduces the time it takes to act, which can significantly minimize the economic impact of a business disruption.

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