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Why all businesses need to think with a microsecond mindset when it comes to their data

In 2020 nearly all businesses (97%) saw an increase in both the volume and variety of data entering their business. This growth was fuelled by the exponential growth in data volumes and the speed at which that data is coming into organisations, in particular real-time data from devices and sensors often at the edge of networks. Industry analyst firm IDC estimates that enterprise-related sensor data is growing at 40% per annum and will soon surpass all other data types, including entertainment data.

Businesses are used to grappling with explosions in data volume, but now, the debate has moved on from just Big Data. It’s about Fast Data, and the speed of turning these data volumes into accurate, actionable insights. The businesses that can react the fastest will successfully get ahead of their competition. 

But what does it mean to be fast? Especially when it comes to acting on and using data? And how can you help your business get faster? 

This is an important discussion to have, because in a world of fast data, being the quickest matters. Too many businesses are failing to act on data quickly enough to turn it into competitive advantage. Our recent research into real-time data analytics revealed that a third of businesses (31%) are accessing and acting on data within a second. With only a small minority (13%) acting on it in a microsecond. While this may not sound like a big difference, it’s these microseconds that can impact big decisions and bottom lines. And an increasing number of organisations are realising it’s absolutely critical that they get faster. 

Optimising performance

We liken this focus on speed and performance to the world of sport. In athletics, performance coaches train people to be faster by focusing on three key factors: speed, agility and quickness. It’s these three core components that athletes focus their training on to improve, beat their competition and claim a podium place. They deeply analyse and break down their performance data, looking at ways in which they can tweak, improve and change the way they train, how they run, jump or lift.

Being faster with data is critical to a business’s performance, too. Two-thirds (64%) of all businesses understand the value of processing data in real-time, and over half (56%) know real-time data analytics gives them the edge over the competition. However, there are still  too many businesses that are slow: nearly seven in ten (69%) believe real-time data is up to a minute or even slower. 


When we focus on a business's speed, we talk about how microseconds matter – both in the moment and in aggregate. In athletics, tiny decisions in fractions of seconds combine to make the significant difference between winning and losing. For businesses, this means thinking and acting on crucial data decisions within the microsecond, which we call a microsecond mindset.

The importance of microseconds, and the need to always be looking at ways to be faster, can’t be stressed enough. Take the 100 metre sprint: Usain Bolt’s world record on the track over this distance is 9.58s. The second fastest was his previous world record – a whole 11ms “slower”. 

It was through this approach to his speed that Bolt was able to constantly improve and outperform not only the competition, but himself too. At KX,  we’ve fostered an environment where engineers openly compete for algorithmic speed. 


In athletics, agility is the ability to accelerate, decelerate, stabilise and quickly change directions with proper posture. As a business, this means being agile from prototype to production, and enacting faster innovation cycles powered by real-time data analytics, to get to the market faster. To improve how fast you are,you must be able to act on data in the moment, making automated decisions in microseconds.  

In Formula 1, for example, leading racing teams use our tech to enhance analytical capabilities both on track and in wider operational performance. By analysing data in real-time, KX can deliver significant efficiency and utilisation benefits right across the racing team. And in the gambling sector, KX helps firms accurately process and manage hundreds of thousands of betting transactions in just one second. 


For athletes, no matter whether they are long distance runners, sprinters or long jumpers,quickness is the ability to react and change body position with a maximum rate of force production. This allows them to run faster and longer or jump higher. 

For businesses and organisations, this approach focuses on scalability and elasticity; both of which are critical enablers of quickness, to ensure as a business you can quickly react to exponential increases in data volumes, wherever and whenever you need it. Statista figures have shown that volumes of data from IoT devices alone will hit 79.4 zettabytes by 2025. This comes at no surprise when taken in the context that a connected factory, for example, will create millions of data points a second from sensors in machinery. 

In this context, quicknessmeans looking at how scaleable or elasticated your data capabilities are, and whether you should switch to the cloud to cope with rises in data volumes, or to help connect, collate and process data from different touch points, such as sensors within a factory, or on a racing car.

Adopting a microsecond mindset

By combining a fast approach with speed, agility and quickness, through the lens of a real-time data strategy, businesses are able to respond to data quickly and meaningfully in a way that delivers value through actionable insights.  

This will result in smarter decision making - unlocking continuous business intelligence - which can generate efficiencies at scale and power growth.All of these are high on the agenda for a successful business in a post-Covid world. Placing streaming analytics at the heart of your organisation and adopting a microsecond mindset means your business will be positioned at the  front of the race.




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James Corcoran

James Corcoran

VP Engineering


Member since

23 Mar 2021



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