2021: The Year Real Time Gets Real

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Of course, real-time applications vary by industry. Clive Bearman, product marketing director at Qlik, shared examples of applications he is seeing across his company’s customer base. In finance, for example, the emphasis is on payment systems fraud detection and aggregating data elements in real time to determine whether credit card payments are valid or not. In healthcare settings, providers are using real-time information to manage resources, such as nurses and beds, while also monitoring KPIs such as readmission rates. In manufacturing, Bearman sees companies continuing to use real-time data to optimize their supply chains to ensure or improve margins. In retail, with a focus on ecommerce operations, “the ability to provide accurate stock information to shoppers has been critical—not only details of how many items are in stock, but at which stores and locations.”

Technology Enablers

Is technology ready to deliver highly functioning real-time capabilities? Most experts feel it is. “Solid-state storage, special-purpose CPUs, cloud computing capabilities, IoT, edge computing, AI, machine learning, and 5G are some of the major enablers for real-time insights in recent years,” said Loeppke.

“The underlying systems with the data are generally available, but most enterprises lack a service management system to make the exceptions actionable in real time,” said Nader Mikhail, CEO and founder of Elementum. “For example, every modern enterprise has an ERP and a data lake, and most companies have some combination of visibility, collaboration, or BI tools. However, these systems generate exceptions which are being funneled to Excel files or SharePoint sites where decision making becomes decentralized and ad hoc. To make real-time decisions, companies need a service management tool to consolidate the exceptions, automate the insights, and centralize the execution.”

Emerging tools are making the difference, because the challenge with achieving real-time capabilities is to sift out those data nuggets of value from a firehose of information streaming in from all sources. This particularly applies to tools designed to “help make decisions as efficiently, rapidly, and accurately as possible,” Mikhail continued. “This is in contrast to a few years ago when real-time visibility was a priority.” Leaders have learned that seeing everything is actually a negative and not a value-add because it’s a distraction, he noted. “The key is to leverage those tools that can highlight the things that actually matter—things that matter right now—and then facilitate an efficient, rapid, and accurate resolution. In my sector, supply chain, this has become more crucial than ever.”

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