Despite repeated promises over many years, real time data isn’t available to most companies Circuit Boardtoday. Indeed, almost a third of companies asked say their data isn’t updated frequently enough and more than a quarter have no support for predictive analytics. Yet companies want – and need – real time data. Getting faster access to relevant information that drives decisions can change business processes – and people’s behavior. The fact is that, until now, businesses have only reviewed their existing processes when they stopped working. If it ain’t broke…

However, with the pace of business accelerating, keeping processes static for long periods no longer makes sense – even if they seem to be running fine. True flexibility and agility mean that operations must be able to adapt in midprocess. If not, you risk missing opportunities and failing to address new challenges.

Data problems are a telltale sign of uncompetitive companies, who are much more likely to say that their data is not fresh enough, not detailed enough, and not accessible fast enough. People in the least competitive organizations are three times more likely than their counterparts in leading companies to make decisions based on inadequate information – because it would take too long to wait for up-to-date, relevant data.

It is already clear that victory will go to the ultraefficient. This means taking operations that used to be managed on a daily or weekly basis and handling them hourly – or even in real time. We see examples of this in the continuous, subtle adjustments companies in the retail, hospitality, and travel industries make to their prices and inventories.

Real time data-driven decision making changes the expectations of customers, because they can act instantly in response to new information – getting an online bargain or a last-minute restaurant booking. It changes the behavior of business users, too, because they know they must operate according to the latest information. What’s more, this change permeates the entire organization, because everyone makes decisions, whether strategic, tactical or operational. At decision time, everyone needs timely, relevant, and accurate information, delivered within appropriate applications to the right devices.

Of course, this doesn’t just happen. It requires information systems that capture and analyze a huge volume and variety of structured and unstructured data – at an incredible rate. This includes transactional data, text from e-mail messages and forms, machine- and device-generated sensor data, Web logs, video data, audio data, chatter on social networks, GPS data from mobile devices, and more. It then requires applications that can recognize and pass on key trends and patterns. This is what it takes to supply consumers and managers with the data they need to make informed decisions in the moment. It delivers the power to influence everything from staff allocation to customer service, from production planning to profit forecasts.

It is a daunting proposition, but it is attainable. Three things are needed to make it happen:

  • Real-time data
  • Predictive analytics
  • Information from multiple devices and locations, including cars, smartphones, stores, and machine-to-machine systems

You can find out more in Blueprint for Success: Ingraining Insights into the DNA of People and Process (www.sapblueprintforsuccess.com), our exclusive IDC interactive infographic. It makes clear why businesses, as well as IT, can and must transform in order to be able to run a real-time enterprise that simultaneously transacts, analyzes, and acts.

SAP’s vision for a real time data platform offers a fundamentally new approach to data processing. By unifying all data assets into a single environment, it greatly simplifies the IT landscape and helps unleash the power of data. Learn more at www.sap.com/realtime_data.