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(Busines Activity Monitoring)
by Juan C. Dürsteler [message nº 134]

BAM stands for Business Activity Monitoring, an emerging field that promises to increase competitiveness and rapid, well informed decision taking. Information Visualisation will have an important role in this.

According to Ephraim Schwartz in his InfoWorld article   " Is BAM a scam or a score", the idea underlying BAM is rooted in a group of Gartner principal analysts a couple of years ago., Nevertheless, it's only in the last 6 months that it has started to become present in the minds of executives and business managers.

The idea is a simple one: in the business world there's a continuous production of information related to sales, production, logistics, financial operations, etc. that many times goes unnoticed until it's too late, since the traditional information services aren't prepared to act in real time, issuing alarms when a potentially anomalous or problematic situation arises.

The key consists of having appropriate indicators of our business activity available, acquiring the data they are composed of in real time, integrating them in order to build a clear visualisation of the business state.

The convergence of several technologies begins to enable the gathering of operational information along with its monitoring in real time through information visualisation. The potential is clear: knowing exactly in which situation our business stands makes it possible to quickly take better informed decisions.

According to Mentisys, BAM is held up, among others, on the following technologies:

  • Application and data integration like event management services, integration brokers and message or event repositories.

  •  Real time data processing, like, for example, business process management systems.

  •  Visualisation environments.

Monitoring whatever business process needs the establishment of a set of so called Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that give an idea of the performance of the business critical processes.

In a business process with enough entity, the number of these indicators can be difficult to manage in a numeric format. For this reason, a good deal of the suppliers of these technologies, like Celequest end up graphically representing the set of indicators and metrics in the form of a "dashboard".

The computation of key indicators is usually complemented with a set of rules that allow the system to trigger the alarms when any of the indicators shows a trend that can lead to a potential problem. The alarm can be sent even through mobile telephony, with the objective of enabling immediate reaction in mission critical processes.

Again it is here where information visualisation, specially of time series and of relations between events, can help us in identifying patterns in the behaviour of the business and cause-effect relationships between large amounts of events otherwise very difficult to identify.

The visualisations that I have been able to find in the net for this emerging technology are scarce and are very briefly explained. Celequest allows you to use portals like IBM's WebSphere or even export KPI to Excel, HTML or generate a report readable by Acrobat Reader.

Polexis, more oriented towards defence and homeland security, is using these technologies, among other objectives, to manage, in real time, crisis situations where several governmental agencies are involved.

Vigilys by Polexis  
Vigilys : Aplication developed by Polexis for real time crisis management. It gathers information received from the different agencies involved displaying it in several forms including geographical information.
Source: As can be seen in Polexis web page about Vigilys.

According to the Gartner projection for the next two years BAM will be a key piece in the 2.4 billion dollars that the market of Business Intelligence (BI), network systems management and application integration and middleware is expected to be worth.

It's clear that in the competitive market we are immersed in, it will be decreasingly feasible to allow oneself the luxury of taking decisions based on lax or incomplete information, hand crafted with data gathered weeks ago.

here, where quick reaction is required, like in the case of logistics, supply chain management, flexible production, financial services and many other fields, business activity monitoring will have an increasing presence and information visualisation will become more relevant in order to help digest all that information.

Links of this issue:

http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/07/03/26OPreality_1.html   Article by Ephraim Schwartz
http://www.mentisys.com/   Mentisys web site
http://www.celequest.com/   Celequest web site
http://www.polexis.com/   Polexis web site
http://www.polexis.com/vigilys.html   Web page about Vigilys de Polexis
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