The Intelligent Business Process – Closing the Action Loop

Business processes are innately cross-functional, yet enterprise software has evolved in silos. We have reached the point where analytics can access information from multiple sources across the organization and provide a cross-functional view of performance. The question now is, having gained that degree of insight, how do people decide on the best action and then execute that action, within a timeframe that’s short enough to influence quarterly business results?

Business processes are the threads that make up the fabric of an organization. Improving the efficiency of business processes, and the effectiveness of their intersections, is the ultimate goal. BI systems allow people to monitor process through performance metrics. They can also identify variances, direct people to relevant dashboards and reports, and enable them to drill around to understand triggers and root cause. In instances where location is a key factor, extending the data from reports and tables into maps and pictures can help to accelerate insight. Finding the problem is now the easy part; deciding what to do about it and taking confident action can materially affect outcomes, but they are harder to do.

What’s needed is a single software environment that begins with an understanding of the problem, let’s people experiment with different courses of action, and then rapidly executes the desired actions. A decision involves making a selection from a set of alternative choices that may take into account multiple simultaneous factors such as cost, time, supply, demand, competition, discount, etc. To enable business people to evaluate alternatives, they need a powerful analysis tool that’s easy to use, keeps data in context, and allows them to quickly collaborate across functions. Today most people use Excel for analysis and Outlook for collaboration. Together these solutions are inadequate for reaching a clear enterprise decision.

Once the right decision is made, the question then is – how to put it into action? Closing the remaining gap between observation and intervention requires that analytic systems be tightly integrated with transaction systems, so that they operate seamlessly when required. People want to move beyond the state where enterprise software constrains business procedures, towards an environment where systems support their way of operating and enabling an effective execution of business strategy. It means that there must be a logical, consistent connection between the decision that they’ve made, and the action that they take as a result.

If the question is – how can people decide on the best action and then execute, within a timeframe that’s short enough to influence quarterly business results – the answer is that they need an Intelligent Business Process. If the question is – where can they get it? The answer is – the Action Framework, which links analytics with core business applications. Action Framework is one of the key distinguishing capabilities of the Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation.

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