What do a hot-dog chain, a supermarket, a Silicon Valley startup, and a mammoth multinational corporation have in common? At their core, they are all businesses, and, regardless of their size, they run on the same vital fuel: decisions. Their owners, managers, and experts must choose wisely on important topics daily, even multiple times each day or each hour. Upon their decision rests the crushing weight of the responsibility to achieve success, however, it may be measured.
Endless streams of articles, studies, books, and conferences have focused, through the years, on identifying what makes the difference between a successful decision, a less successful one, and a downright catastrophic one, that plunges a business into a downward spiral of loss and destruction.
If decisions make the difference between fame and infamy, the next logical question is what are they, ultimately, made of and based upon? What does a manager, a director, or a chief officer need, to produce his most important work: a simple, yet critical choice?
The answer is invariably information – be it in the form of experience, wisdom, trade secrets, news, specialized knowledge, or troves of data put into context. Experienced executives use this information, and the way they can connect different pieces of it, to come to conclusions and reach – you’ve guessed it: life-changing, business-transforming, profit-making decisions.
So here it is, the most important question for any mover or shaker, experienced professional, entrepreneur, business leader: how and where do you get the right information, at the right time?
The answer lies in the symbiosis between man and machine, in a partnership between humans and technology, known as the data-driven digital transformation of business processes.
A continuous stream of boundless data exists and is created, whether we are aware of it or not, with every move we and our companies make: people, resources, capabilities, actions, reactions, interactions, objects, ideas, gain, loss, relationships. The lifelong challenge facing any business is to continuously collect this data, protect and organize it, but more importantly to put it in context and to good use so that it fuels the success and profitability of every process, and of the business itself. Those who fail to do so ultimately lose the competitive battle for marketplace survival, a battle that is becoming fiercer by the minute.
Much like a natural evolution, competitive business success is based on gradual improvements, leaps, and disruption. The player who manages to master all the data, turn it into information, decide faster, better, and with a more predictive outcome, survives and thrives.
As the competition tightens, the data tools and solutions needed to stay on top must become better, more complex, and more aligned with the needs of modern business. The constantly changing local and global environment generates a continuous need to adapt.
The right time is real-time
Gone are the days when business reports could afford to take a week to compile in spreadsheets and be presented in manually styled charts. Gone is also the time when decisions could be made based on data that was 72, 48, or even 24 hours old. We are living in times of instant and continuous change, that require flowing, agile information, action, and reaction.
This is where Continuous Intelligence (CI) comes into its own. Real-time analytics must now be integrated into business operations, taking historical data, intelligently corroborating it with current information, using it to create predictions and augmented advice, to form the basis of quick and accurate decisions that have immediate effect.
Continuous Intelligence deals with streaming data, moment-by-moment, while simultaneously contextualizing it with the situation at hand and background knowledge, with the processes involved, internal and external stakeholders, and other influencing factors.
The right place is everywhere that matters
The legacy approach in providing professionals and decision-makers with information to help them do their job was to perform queries on a structured database, process the results, and incorporate them into dashboards and reports that could be either accessed by the internal customers (the decision-makers) in a pull system or proactively sent by the analytics teams at specific intervals, in a push system.
However, everyday business reality has shown that information is needed everywhere, not only for cadence meetings presentations or at pre-defined checkpoints, or on intranet dashboards, but at each step of a professional’s activity, within the very tools that they use to conduct their business.
A change was needed: for experts and management teams to successfully use the contextualized data, it must be funneled and delivered at high speed through specific distribution channels, that are tailored to each internal customer’s specific demand. In the insurance sector, for example, an actuary takes his information from very specific sources, while the underwriter uses others. The same is valid in the banking sector for auditors, loan analysts, stockbrokers, and almost every specialty.
It is only by creating new channels and integrating data exactly there where it becomes essential, that the true potential of information can be harnessed and turned into productivity, risk mitigation, customer satisfaction, and profitability.
A leap forward with AI and ML
Continuous Intelligence does not rely on databases and queries. It does not need the data to be structured, warehoused, and pre-cleaned. CI works with boundless amounts of real-time data, for which it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to seamlessly understand it, put it into context, connect it with specific situations and policies, and create predictions about potential adequate decisions. And it does all this instantly.
Advanced analytics solutions are trained to acquire a virtual understanding of the business processes that they are meant to augment and support. While Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning based solutions do not aim to replace the most experienced human experts in finance or any other sector, they can be hundreds or even thousands of times faster in capturing instant data, turning it into information, comparing it to all the available historical facts and predicting one or many options for action.
These capabilities position such solutions as key allies and accelerators for an infinite number of business processes and initiatives, revolutionizing the way in which humans and machines unite their forces to become better prepared and more competitive for the challenges awaiting right now and tomorrow.
The challenging times we live in are easier to navigate with artificially intelligent partners. Complicated, risky, and tedious tasks no longer take up large portions of seasoned professionals’ schedules. These highly skilled experts can instead use their time and precious competence to make high-level augmented decisions, based on a previously unfathomable wealth of information, alongside intelligent predictions provided by their virtual companions, solutions that work at the right time, in the right place, with the expected results.