What is Process Intelligence? How does it differ from Business Intelligence?

Brocco-Cauliflower or Roman Broccoli picture released to the public domain by its author and copyright holder, Jon SullivanBroccoli and Cauliflower are easily cross-bred through hand pollination or natural pollinators. The result is the rather dramatic Romanesco Cauliflower or the fractal broccoli or *drumroll* the broccoflower. Much like the broccoflower, Process intelligence is a hybrid – a blend of business intelligence and business process management. Process intelligence (PI) has been confused with business intelligence (BI) but it is different, and in the best way. Here are three ways to illustrate the difference.

#1 BI is theory. PI guides action. Software systems like SAS, SPSS are wonderful for analyzing data and providing guidance on what “should” work. Real-life processes are much murkier. Process intelligence is about informing the end-user so he/she can take the best action under the circumstances. In this example the insurer uses process intelligence as part of the outbound call center processes for fraud investigation. The decision support is in respect of the specific questions that should be asked of the suspect to help arrive at a decision. There is line of sight between the decision support and the end result.

#2 PI impacts operational metrics. As an adjunct to #1, process intelligence has a direct impact on key performance indicators such as turn-around time or claims handled (in the warranty process), or campaign size and revenues (for the marketing process). See the design embedding intelligence into the marketing process below.

FREE PROCESS BLUEPRINTMarketing Intelligence Automation

#3 BI is for analysts. PI is for line of business process owners. Not to be too trite, as the examples above illustrate it’s the difference between coaching from the sidelines versus being in the game. BI can evolve into PI – as long as the intelligence is embedded into the business process. Organizations who aspire to improve their operating metrics need to focus not just on technology but also processes and organization. The CDC’s handling of a leptospirosis outbreak is a wonderful example of PI in which the process was enabled by fact-based decision support throughout.

To summarize, BPM + Embedded BI = PI. 

PI does not downplay the role of the people involved in the process. Rather, it magnifies their role by empowering them with critical analytical support to help them make the best decisions every time.

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