What Does it Mean to be a "Real-Time Enterprise"?

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What does it mean to be a “real-time enterprise”?  It means having a well-connected organization, free of the shackles of siloed  and slow-moving data environments. It means being able to compete in today’s hyper-competitive economy by giving decision makers immediate access to the right information, at the right time.

But beyond the promise of timely access to information, no two real-time enterprises will look the same, nor should they. To that end, everyone interested in moving to a real-time architecture needs to take the important first step of defining exactly what they mean by real-time data.

“To some, real-time implies instantaneous, whereas others would define it in specific units of measurement, such as hours or days,” writes StanfordUniversity’s Benjamin Tabrizi, Ph.D., in Becoming a Real-Time Enterprise: Harnessing the Power of RTE to Maximize Competitive Advantage. “Real-time for one company or process within it may not be real-time for another, for the definitions of right data, right processes, right people, right cost, and right time vary from company to company.” For his part, Tabrizi defines real-time as “getting the right data about the right processes to the right people at the right time to create and sustain competitive advantage.”

Ultimately, it is a mix of real-time, right-time, and preserved data  that will deliver a  well-rounded picture.

Real-time access, in fact, is often what executives want when they envision the benefits of real-time data. Only some, but not necessarily all, data conceivably needs to be part of the real-time enterprise, while the bulk of it remains in slower or more low-latency environments, archived or stored for historical analysis. Ultimately, it is a mix of real-time, right-time, and preserved data that will deliver a well-rounded picture on which decision makers can take their actions. As Tabrizi put it: “Information only needs to be as up-todate as necessary for business processes to run optimally.”

The bottom line is that the goal of the real-time enterprise is not simply to just do everything faster—because it is possible to do the wrong thing faster. For example, in a production line, if a customer needs to make a change to an order, the manager in charge needs to be able to look upstream and downstream in real-time to weigh the impact of halting a production line. But he or she also needs to understand the customer’s lifetime value to the organization. If an airline customer misses a connecting flight, the customer service representative that he or she contacts not only needs real-time data on the customer’s agenda and upcoming flight availabilities but also information  on the customer’s past relationship to  the airline. He or she may be a premium frequent flier, for example, and thus require additional attention.

 Access the full report in DBTA's May Thought Leadership Section: Enabling the Real-Time Enterprise.”

For this reason, “enterprise” is the key word in real-time enterprise—the success of any effort hinges on the ability to deliver information from all available and relevant sources, across the entire business, to any department that needs it. Slowly, efforts to bring about real-time data access are gaining ground. However, for many organizations, it’s still a batchoriented world. Real-time data access is still a distant pipe dream for at least half of companies represented in a survey of more than 330 data managers and professionals who are subscribers to Database Trends and Applications. The survey finds that relevant data still takes 24 hours or longer to reach decision makers. The survey, “Moving Data: Charting the Journey From Batch to Blazing, 2012 Survey on Data Integration Strategies,” was sponsored by Attunity and conducted by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc., in March 2012. Next page.


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