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Instant information at users’ fingertips

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Users live in an instant world where we’ve become very good at being able to tell when an “event” occurs. For example, news from a government agency could affect the price of a company’s stock; the stock of a key product at a store is rapidly dwindling; a competitor has just reduced the price of a best-selling item, and so on.
However, knowing about an event has little value unless users act on that information.
Companies are now focusing significant attention trying to improve their ability to react to realtime events using data analytics. Realtime analytics offers speed, flexibility, and the potential to gain competitive advantage by responding to an event soon after it occurs. Just as the early bird gets the worm, acting quickly to respond to an event can help a company get a leg up on the competition.
Realtime analytics sounds straight forward. An event occurs, data relevant to the event is collected, the data is analysed, and a decision is made whether or not to act in response to the event. But the entire process needs to happen quickly – in realtime – which makes implementing realtime analytics more difficult than traditional BI decision support focused on longer-term strategic decisions.
According to Anton van Heerden, GM at Altech ISIS, while realtime analytics has already started demonstrating its value, technology limitations are still hindering its full applications. However, this is set to change over the next couple of years as in-memory databases become more prevalent.
“In-memory databases will be the disruptor of analytics, and we believe that they will come to their full potential in the next couple of years,” he says.
“As this technology becomes more widespread, and the uses are more fully explored, there will be a number of opportunities created for businesses, not least of which are the benefits of true realtime analytics. We are therefore specifically looking at the opportunities this will offer our clients and are ensuring that we are well placed to provide the high level of support they have come to expect from Altech ISIS.”
The dynamic analysis and reporting that true realtime analytics can offer is especially relevant in the prevailing culture of social networks and instant access to information that has become the norm in our personal and business lives.
Van Heerden points out that today, customer experience is especially important, and that businesses require a higher level of responsiveness to their customers in order to achieve success.
“Customer interaction is a contact sport. If you can communicate with your customer in realtime, via the his or her preferred media, you will win a fan for life. Realtime analytics can provide up-to-the-minute information about customers and present it so that better and quicker business decisions can be made – ideally within the time span of a customer interaction.
“It also offers opportunities for companies to enhance their offerings by, for example, offering dynamic price structures,” he says.
Companies in the business of taking customer bookings, for example airlines or hotels, could therefore offer automated, realtime changes in pricing dependent on any number of factors.
The benefits of realtime analytics don’t just lie in customer management. Van Heerden points out that realtime fraud management will allow for immediate analysis of possible fraudulent activity, an improvement over the current 24 to 48 hour process.
“The data is there, it’s just a question of how you crunch through it, how you make decisions,” he says. “With the increasing use of in-memory databases, it’s no longer a question of how, but when.”
Altech ISIS has found that in harnessing the latent power of realtime analytics the early bird doesn’t just get the worm, he gets a powerful insight into customer behaviour and what improves the customer experience and their overall satisfaction.
Realtime analytics enable organisations to get an intimate understanding of where the market is, where it is going and what customers need today and into the future. It gives users the power to turn data into information and to turn information into long term profits.