Vitria is one of a small group of vendors offering a type of analytics called operational intelligence. The term is not widely known, although Ventana Research has defined and tracked this market for many years and researched. We define operational intelligence (OI) as “a set of event-centered information and analytics processes operating across the network that enable people to take effective actions and make better decisions.” For its part Vitria defines OI as “a new type of real-time, dynamic analytics that delivers visibility into business operations.” Marry the two and you begin to see what differentiates OI from other forms of analytics.
Most analytics products work on transactional data, such as invoices, payments and debits in an ERP account, customer records and service cases in a CRM system, call recordings in a repository of recorded calls, or surveys in a text file. The last two are examples of unstructured transactions that some analytics products now can access and analyze; even newer examples are text messages, chat scripts and social media entries. Most analytic products typically work on historical data, but a few can work on new transactions as they are posted to a file. OI differs because as well as using transactional data, it includes event data. An event can be many things, for example, an alarm that a server has gone down, an alarm saying a network is congested, a warning that a step within a process has not been completed by the target date or time, a notice that a cell within a cellular network is down, an alarm that too many customers are being held in a contact center queue; the list is endless.
Events have two unique characteristics: They happen in real time, and timing is key. The Vitria M3O Operational Suite is designed to collect events from multiple sources, record the time when they occur and combine them with transactional data; the aim is to deliver insights into business operations and the likely impact on customers and other aspects of running a business. The product does this using complex event processing (CEP) techniques that can identify in real time the correlation between an event and likely outcomes, for example, predicting a high volume of complaint calls to the contact center if a cable is cut in a cable TV network.
The product supports similar capabilities to monitor business processes. The suite includes a tool that allows users to create process maps and then create “rules” so that if an event doesn’t occur within a set time frame, an alert is raised, for example, if an action cannot begin until a document is posted to a file and the posting doesn’t occur within a set period, then email could be sent to a designated person to investigate what is holding up the production of that document.
The outcome of the analysis can be presented in many forms, including all the normal forms of graphs and charts plus maps with flashing alarms, real-time and historic displays, and process maps.
The full set of Vitria’s tools supports the Ventana Research performance management cycle of understand, optimize and align; Vitria calls it “visibility, insight and action.” In either case, the process requires accessing historic and real-time data, analyzing the data to understand and visualize root causes, trends and correlations between events, raising alerts or using workflow to ensure corrective or improvement actions are taken and repeating this cycle on a continuous basis.
This brings me to the theme of proactive customer service and how OI can enable it. To achieve it requires linking processes within processes, analyzing the impact that an activity or event in one process might have in another process, and being able to initiate another process to mitigate the likely impact. For example, in my earlier example of a cable being cut in a cable network, the product could capture that event, identify which customers might be impacted – including what customers were watching at the time of the failure – and generating an apology to each customer by their preferred channel of communication and giving each customer watching a program at the time a credit to their account. How would this type of proactive service be received by your customers? Please tell us your thoughts and come collaborate with us.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director