One of the most popular comic book and movie screen figures of all-time, Batman, is related to Microsoft a little more than many might think. Batman is just a man. Other ‘superheroes’, such as the fabled kryptonite-phobic, Superman, are more powerful individuals. Superman is an alien and Spiderman was of course bitten by a radioactive Spider

What makes Batman unique is that anyone could become Batman, providing we had the resources and determination. Almost every superhero has a backstory of a scientific accident or prophecy that led to them becoming the character we now know, except our caped crusader. What makes Batman so interesting is that he always overcomes adversity and the odds against villains with superpowers. Bruce Wayne must rely on one key mechanism: being one step ahead.

Batman is often referred to as “the world’s greatest detective”. When outmatched in terms of strength, size, speed, flight, or overwhelmed by chaos – it is the mind of Bruce Wayne that can turn the tide, not the body of Batman.

Businesses can learn from Batman; his greatest tool is one he can’t buy and that’s intelligence and insight. Organisations are no different – they need to transform to remain competitive in business, and to do that they also need business intelligence and data insights. The advanced data and analytics services hosted within Microsoft Azure would be the natural choice for both Batman and Bruce Wayne to help improve crime fighting, and to improve the profitability of businesses within Wayne Enterprises.

  1. Stream Analytics

For example, Bruce Wayne is immediately alerted whenever a crime is reported so he can prepare the right tools for the job. He does this by having a constant stream of data flowing into the ‘BatComputer’, which allows him to set parameters of what crime he should respond to. This data gives him a head start, as he is already aware of who it is he’s up against and what it’s going to take to conquer his foes.

In business terms, Azure Stream Analytics can become an organisations very own ‘BatComputer’, which will alert them to any set parameter in the live data that passes through it. This could be alerting them to a drop in a product’s demand, or to a flurry of customer complaints where there is a common theme throughout. It could even be used to spot anomalies in their systems defences, which can help prevent cyber-attacks by alerting the ender user faster.

  1. Embedded Power BI

Before Batman heads out, he will know his strategy for battle – he knows that he is facing an enemy that is slow and well-armed, with specific weaknesses. He can then apply this knowledge to the tools he has available to pick the right equipment and resources. Organisations can demonstrate their side of this, by capturing the data of their customers and then sought out the meaningful questions that will affect their business. They can analyse historical data against live data in Embedded PowerBI. This can help them to make informed, actionable decisions based upon data analysed in real time.

  1. Machine Learning

When Batman arrives at the scene of a potential crime, he can survey and analyse the scene, sending reports back to the now infamous ‘BatComputer’. This could be information of what freeze-ray Mr Freeze has been using or even the armour he is wearing. This can help his computer accurately predict which gadget and tactic will be effective in defeating him.

Batman’s trial and error technique which is used to battle his enemies is in the same vein as the predictive insight provided by Azure Machine Learning.

Machine Learning empowers the system to use the vast amounts of data available to make smarter decisions. This is applied time and time again until the machine understands what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s effective and what isn’t. Organisations are benefiting hugely as their machines are becoming smarter when handling advanced tasks with minimal input from humans.

  1. Azure Bot Services

Of course, Batman is not stopping mid-fight to call Alfred or use his tablet computer to request this information from the ‘BatComputer’, he simply speaks to it directly with his earpiece. The ‘BatComputer’ then responds with the answers to his questions, or confirming his command will be actioned.

This level of automated customer service seems like it belongs in the realms of comic books, but ironically this service is most accessible and heavily consumed by the public. Our virtual sidekicks come under the names of Siri, Alexa or Cortana. These intelligent personal assistants are getting better at holding genuine conversations with humans for simple queries and voice control. But Cortana is so much more than a personal assistant – Microsoft’s Cortana Intelligence Suite is about transforming data into insights and ultimately into actions.  Meanwhile “bots” are becoming increasingly common as the first line of support for customer service – here, Microsoft provides us with a Bot Framework to build and connect intelligent bots to interact with the people who consume our services.

Using data to make informed decisions and stay one step ahead is often the only thing that keeps Batman alive. He does not possess the speed of The Flash or the strength of Superman, but he is in a league of his own when it comes to preparation and operational intelligence. All businesses should look to this example as a reason to improve their own planning and analytics as a priority. Your competitors may have more resources or employees, but if you are more informed, more proactive and better equipped to understand your customer, you too could be the hero that your industry deserves.