Businesses today are built around information technologies that drive strategy and operations. Consequently, IT has had to evolve from reactive to proactive by leveraging operational information via real-time data monitoring and management systems.
This operational information—or, as it is referred to in a recent 451 Research article, “Pervasive Intelligence”—will define the winners and losers moving forward across sectors. The goal is to provide businesses and their IT teams with the necessary level of depth and granularity into real-time system log data to see what is happening across all IT systems and make real-time operational decisions.
When this data can be stored and analyzed in real time, the organization can make operational decisions that positively affect all aspects of the business and how it’s running. While this is the foundation of what is known as operational intelligence, the possibilities expand with a broader definition and the right tools.
Defining Operational Intelligence
In today’s business environment, this concept is all about dynamic business analytics gathered in real time to deliver visibility and insight into data, streaming events, and business operations. This facilitates data analysis that enables businesses to make decisions through automated data gathering means. But this process is much more, as it brings together business intelligence (more reactive data) with:
- Event management
- Action management
These are all connected to the various business systems and applications, so a management team can take full advantage of disparate machine log data. This enables the organization to affect changes across the entire business ecosystem.
For example, businesses are increasingly diverse, regardless of their sector or even size. They are often manufacturing in multiple modes, have diverse supply chains and sales channels, and have multiple systems that gather data internally as well as across customer and client touchpoints. Moreover, regulatory changes, IoT, big data, and a host of other factors add to the challenges of visualizing, gathering, managing, and acting on that data in a complex business environment.
Real Business Benefits of Operational Intelligence
Today’s tools must quickly adapt to digital transformation within the business to make sure companies meet their operational and strategic objectives as industry and technology trends evolve. The right platform can enable observation of disparate data sources and interpretation of the data to determine where they are in terms of changing dynamics happening in real time as well as strategic goals.
The key is that these platforms must be capable of providing not only information on the cause, but also prescriptive analytics that drive recommended solutions or optimizations. This can play out in real-world terms in a myriad of ways across systems, departments, businesses, and sectors, such as:
- Gathering and securing PHI and PCI data
- Gaining insights into device, sensor, and equipment performance to boost productivity
- Quickly identifying and responding to phishing attacks and other threats
- Detecting fraud patterns and helping prescribe further needed actions
- Reducing system downtime
- Enabling alerts for application errors to increase efficiency
- Reducing operational costs by identifying inefficiencies in systems, machines, and processes
While these and other benefits have clear implications for the business, they are rooted in an ability to provide greater efficiencies for the IT department, where all of these operational possibilities begin within IT infrastructure and applications. A closer look shows how operational intelligence supports the IT department by making them proactive rather than reactive.
This can be seen in areas such as threat detection, application optimization, and network visibility, among many others. In addition, IT teams benefit from operational intelligence in terms of more accurate and faster health and performance management of physical and virtual servers, applications, services, security devices, and much more.
Choosing the right platform to accomplish these and other goals requires a highly versatile solution. Today, Splunk and operational intelligence have become synonymous, but there are other tools available. The problem is that most of these open source solutions lack the flexibility and agility of Splunk.
System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) and Splunk are both leading solutions for machine data monitoring and management. While Splunk facilitates search, monitoring, and analysis capacities for log files and other types of machine data, it can work in conjunction with SCOM by retrieving SCOM events/alert data and forwarding it to Splunk. This makes SCOM event/alert data searches and reporting possible from within the platform.
That is an example of one of the ways that Splunk provides agility by being compatible and complementary with other systems and platforms that can expand its scope of possibilities in data log management. With the required adoption of digital transformation and its ties to the need for acting on the growing data stores that it generates, platforms like Splunk will become more necessary, and they must continue to grow and adapt.