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By Bruce Jones

Most so-called intelligent organisations extract data from production, feed it into business intelligence (BI) systems, analyse the findings and then – based on this analysis – modify the way they do things…

The way forward, however, is for companies to follow a more integrated intelligence route. In the future, intelligence processes will be far more automated with organisational behaviour responding immediately to new intelligence findings.

This automated response will be made possible by what’s become known as “closed loop intelligence” – a term coined by the Butler Group, one of Europe’s leading IT analyst companies.

Martin Butler, president of Butler Group, maintains that “closed loop intelligence” will soon become as much a part of IT-speak as concepts like Business Intelligence (BI) and systems integration.

“There needs to be a feedback loop between the organisation and its intelligence – something that does not exist in most companies today,” says Butler.

“Indeed, there is little in the way of anything like an automatic feedback into the actions the systems take from the intelligence it gathers. In fact we have two worlds in IT – the operational systems and BI.”

In a closed loop environment, there is two-way feed between the operational environment and BI.

As Butler describes the process, “data is derived from production systems and intelligence is fed back to it in a closed loop. This involves the dynamic modification of business rules based on intelligence – possibly without human intervention for simpler operational tasks.”

Organisations are increasingly becoming aware of the need for an architecture which will make it possible to adapt to the speed at which businesses – and their systems – have to change to accommodate changes in the environments in which they operate.

Eventually, change is going to occur too quickly for humans to deal with – some could say that is already occurring. This means that the systems themselves will have to be equipped to automatically adapt their own business rules to accommodate change.

Another factor driving intelligent automation, and the closed loop systems which enable this, is the fact that closed loop systems will exhibit greater intelligence for many mundane tasks than people will ever want to.

Intelligent automation won’t happen overnight.

Nevertheless, the trend towards closed loop systems will accelerate over the next few years as the technology matures sufficiently to make intelligent automation a reality.

Indeed, there is already real competitive advantage to be had from implementing entry-level closed loop architectures.

Bruce Jones is manager of sales support at SAS Institute, a market leader in business intelligence software. He can be contacted on Tel. +27 11 713-3400

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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