My last column introduced the concept of a real-time decision-making system that enables business users to react rapidly (ideally in real time) to changing business conditions and, where required, automate the decision-making process. Three underlying business intelligence (BI) technologies support near real-time and automated decision-making: a data integration server, an on-demand analysis server and a rules engine.

A data integration server captures and transforms operational data and loads it into a near real-time data store (i.e., a data warehouse whose data currency is close to that of operational systems). This technology could be used, for example, to build an operational data store (ODS) that integrates customer data from all the customer touchpoints throughout an organization. Data latency in the ODS may vary from a few seconds to many hours, depending on business requirements. The ODS could be used in a front-office application such as a call center to provide current customer status information for making day-to-day operational decisions. An example would be to identify high-value customers who are to be given priority service or a better discount.

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