Traditional, "passive" BI with its curated data sets and predefined dashboards is like looking in a car's rear view mirror, data integration and analytics specialist Qlik's CEO Mike Capone told iTWire.
Active BI, in contrast, is about real-time information and "continuous intelligence," he said.
Furthermore, active BI is specifically designed to trigger action.
Capone cited Aramark, a customer in the food service business that uses Qlik's software to continuously analyse live data from its POS systems in order to make decisions. For example, if the salads in a canteen are selling more slowly than usual, the prices can be dynamically reduced to help avoid wastage. Or unusually high demand for beer at a stadium can be detected quickly enough to allow the delivery of additional supplies before the taps run dry.
Closer to home, Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network in NSW has developed an app using Qlik to provide visibility of its PPE stock levels at the more than 100 locations it serves within the forensic mental health and criminal justice systems.
The app allows it to monitor use and reallocate PPE between locations according to need, and to track the number of patients in isolation, the number of confirmed COVID-19 patient cases, number of staff on leave, and the number of staff on alternative work arrangements.
This helps Justice Health optimise the care and support it provides to patients, and ensure healthcare workers are protected while doing their very important job.
And Optus as seen a 25% improvement in activation time and a 40% reduction in cancelled orders by using Qlik to bring together data from multiple sources so that the 50% of sales orders that require human intervention can be processed more quickly.
One of the obstacles to implementing active BI is that many older systems were only designed for batch extract/transform/load integrations, which is diametrically opposed to real-time information.
But Qlik's 2019 acquisition of Attunity provided it with technology using sophisticated algorithms for real-time data extraction from SAP, legacy data warehouses and other batch-oriented systems. "The analytics become easy once you've done that work," Capone told iTWire.
Some sectors such as financial services already have real-time data access, but "everybody's on the journey," thanks in part to the growing ubiquity of cloud-based systems and the falling cost of storage.
Culture can also be a barrier, he said. Applying analytics – especially real-time analytics – requires a different way of looking at the world, where the data is more important than gut feel. Organisations need to "embrace a culture of data literacy."
To achieve that, the chasm between the technology organisation and the rest of the business must be closed. Rather than allowing IT to control data, access should be democratised in order to "allow data out into the wild."
But that doesn't mean compliance issues can be ignored, Capone warned.
Those looking to get started with active BI need to understand how data can inform their strategies, and how real-time data can accelerate processes, he said.
"That's not an IT-only process – rather, the whole organisation should be involved.
Once that's done, organisations can usefully engage with vendors such as Qlik to flesh out a plan for taking raw data from internal and external sources through an analytics platform in order to obtain actionable insights.