Speed is the term most often used when talking about effective use of data: How quickly you can push information out, how quickly you can get it back. And yes, this is a key factor in communication success, but even more important is timeliness. The actual
rate at which information is transferred through wires is important, but the crucial consideration is that the right information is seen by the right person at the right time, which is as soon as the data becomes available. This is how data can then stimulate
a valuable business response.
The key issue is to make businesses more event-driven: a change in data is an event, or the availability of new data is an event, and receiving that data and reacting to it is how it becomes translated into business action. This paradigm has to pervade an
entire business, flowing through the whole, so it’s not just about timely data but more about a timely business reaction.
Currently, when a business wants information it polls for it. This means pulling information when you want access rather than being notified when it’s available. If you want to be fully informed with stock price updates, you don’t want to request the information
every time. You don’t want to wait for downloads, or updates. You want the information as soon as it becomes available, in order to receive the most relevant and valuable data.
When time is a dimension of business data, the value of a given data set decreases the less timely it is. There is a diminishing prospect of effective business response as time progresses, and the clock begins ticking the very instant that the data becomes
For a lot of businesses, knowing about the now is vital, otherwise they’re simply working with out-of-date information. To use an example, this is very much the case for in-play sports betting: With betting odds changing all the time as a sports match progresses,
the timely delivery of the most up-to-date and relevant odds is vital. The entire operation is based upon the fluctuation, so ensuring the current odds are relevant and delivered in a timely manner is in fact the central pillar for the business.
Business reputations are dependent on timely data delivery, as customer satisfaction and user experience are paramount. This is particularly true in the e-gaming and financial services sectors, where the timeliness of data delivery is vital. From a business
point of view, timeliness and reliability are crucial, as brand loyalty is hard won in this space: business is business, and if you can’t get this right, your competitors will reap the benefits.
E-gaming and finance aren’t the only two arenas where real time data is an essential factor in business success. We’re living in an increasingly connected world, which means real time data is a part of our lives, regardless of sector or profession: Mobile
GPS requires real time updates, as does package tracking, and smart metering for homes. While these are on a much smaller scale than business applications, this is indicative of just how pervasive the need for real time data is.
Having said all of this, it’s also worth bearing in mind that scale is vital too: you may want to push data to thousands of people internationally, rather than just one person. However, this shouldn’t change a business’s fundamental approach to the issue
– it doesn’t matter whether the information is sent to one or one thousand people, if it’s timely then that’s what matters.
In the future, data won’t just be seen as a form of messaging – bytes of information from point A to point B. Context will become crucial, as the kind of information and what it’s being used for will be factored into the way it’s transmitted.
Processing data ‘as it happens’ means delivering changes to the now, rather than yesterday. No one wants to be reacting to old data – keep doing this, and you’ll be left behind.