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Prescriptive Business Intelligence:
A New Formula for Business Optimization

Robert Bolds, Computer Associates 

To meet today"s business challenges, decision-makers demand immediate access to as much relevant information as possible in order to drive effectiveness and profitability. What's required is a more intelligent view of the enterprise; one that enables managers to use information as the basis for practical and positive action.  However, this "intelligent view" should not be confused with portals and other web-based tools that generally provide only the means for collecting and ubiquitously distributing information.  

The Evolution of Business Intelligence

As a discipline, business intelligence is involving from a reactive model to a prescriptive one.  This model begins with a focus on the business process rather than the business practice.  With the attention shifting from reporting and analysis of performance indicators or metrics, to examining the business process itself, business intelligence takes a more strategic and vital role in the business.  It means not only understanding the business but optimizing the business.

Reactive Business Intelligence

Business intelligence grew out of the need to historically examine information to determine intelligence.  This intelligence came in the form of reporting metrics historically through the practice of multi-dimensional analysis.  By examining metrics and indicators along more than one business area (or dimension) over time, it became possible to determine key trends and efficiencies within the organization that were previously not possible.  By conducting pure business analysis, the business practice itself can be measured gaining valuable insight into the business outcome.  By identifying the trend, analytical techniques can then be utilized to create alerts or conditions to prevent undesirable business scenarios from occurring.  The weakness here is that while it can prevent the business outcome from occurring by taking remedial action, it cannot prevent the causative business process from occurring. 

Prescriptive Business Intelligence

Prescriptive business intelligence is the marriage of business process analysis with traditional business intelligence.  By examining the business process using the discipline of business intelligence, the workflow and accompanying business rules can be engineered to determine the best business practice required for the desired and measurable business outcome.  This will produce the expected business outcome.   


By re-asserting the discipline of traditional business intelligence to an analysis of the business process instead of the analysis of metrics and indicators (i.e. business practice), a greater business outcome can be realized.


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