What is Operational Intelligence?

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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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Operational intelligence is both a practice performed and software tool used in information technology (IT). It is a means of reducing problems within a computer-based production system using an advanced system of processing events that detects and solves problems within a system. For a worker in IT, operational intelligence involves studying a computer-generated process to design software that will identify and automatically solve the causes of problems like slowdowns, inefficiencies, and threats. Often abbreviated as OI, operational intelligence is a part of business process intelligence (BPI) and forms a small part of a total business intelligence system.

Newer operational business intelligence practices are different from classic business intelligence in information technology. In contrast with business intelligence of old, OI usually involves a real-time component that allows the software to monitor and control processes minute-to-minute rather than supplying information to make changes to the process after problems occur. A well-designed business intelligence system can help equip a business to better meet operational goals of the business.

In business, OI can also be called operational business intelligence (OBI). These systems are used to make companies more profitable by reducing unnecessary costs that happen when systems fail. This essentially means that it helps identify problems in order to make computer based processes work better.


Generally, operational intelligence is performed to improve business processes performed by computers or automated machinery. At the heart of operational intelligence is ensuring that a process is performed on time, as scheduled and yielding consistent quality results. In OI, quality results are controlled by minimizing errors or malfunctions and correcting them in order to minimize resulting damage.

Operational intelligence is a tool that assists in a larger practice in business called business process management. Business process management is an approach focused on streamlining a business so it produces and serves at its highest potential. Other parts of business process management can include training employees, acquiring technology and designing business processes in an effort to improve the company at all levels.

The term operational intelligence has a somewhat different meaning outside the business and IT fields, and is most frequently used to describe operations in the military and in law enforcement. For police and military officers, operational intelligence was often the name used to refer to intelligence about the operations of enemy forces. While military OI is similar to business OI because it is used to track and reduce or eliminate threats, it differs because the information is used to improve the company seeking the information through business OI.


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