Any business looking to leverage data for better decision-making should think in terms of actionable intelligence.
Actionable intelligence essentially describes the ability to respond to data in a way that furthers operational objectives — easier said than done. Forrester suggests that some 74% of businesses are interested in being “data-driven,” although only 29% of those surveyed had successfully figured out how to connect analytics to action. But most enterprise decision-makers don’t need a survey to tell them that a disconnect exists between data and action.
The missing piece is actionable intelligence. The problem is that data, information, and insights are not the same. Data can be structured or unstructured, and come from a variety of sources, like operations, transactions, or events. That data can then be processed into information — essentially, data that are fully comprehensible to the human eye (in the form of, say, a map or a graph).
At the top of that stack are insights. Sometimes, insights answer questions, like “Where is the truck?” It’s only the actionable insights that go beyond merely answering questions, and suggest actions that should be taken. The truck’s current location is known — but does that indicate a delay? Should it be rerouted? Should the customer be informed? Actionable insights come from information that can be used as part of a strategic plan. It means the right people are seeing the right information, at the moment when it’s most useful for a timely response.
What Makes for Actionable Intelligence?
Not all data will produce insights, let alone actionable insights. For data to empower people to respond, it’s necessary that the system for gathering, processing, and delivering data from diverse streams creates the right kind of insights. That means tapping into just the data you need, in real-time, while allowing everyone to see the same picture. That’s what creates truly actionable intelligence, which must have the following characteristics:
Why Big Business Cares About Actionable Intelligence
For many industries, real-time operational decisions are crucial to success. If a shipment doesn’t arrive on time, if a security threat isn’t addressed, if the scope of a building fire is misjudged, there are major consequences. Making the right decision is essential, and thankfully, in the era of IoT and increased connectivity, the time is right for transformation.
For today’s competitive marketplace, actionable intelligence isn’t an add-on feature. It has the potential to transform the decision-making process. Actionable intelligence is not a new idea. What is new is that it’s never been easier for businesses to get it. Today, actionable insights go well beyond quarterly reports or IT crunching last year’s figures. Emerging tools can utilize data sources of just about every type to create a real-time flow of information. Managers, team members, field agents — every decision-maker can gain a better overview of their domain and achieve the kind of actionable intelligence that makes a difference.