Which would you say is a better option: Having immediate access to information, or waiting a week, a month, or maybe even a whole year?
Do you want to know what is happening to your business as it happens, or long after it has affected you and your team?
While there is value in analyzing information later to get a more comprehensive picture, there is far more value in knowing what is happening as it happens, to make quick decisions based on information fully accessible in the moment! Fortunately, this possibility is becoming more likely, thanks to the rapid acceleration of real-time data collected via Edge Computing!
Real-time data refers to information delivered promptly to users immediately after collection. In today's digital landscape, mere access to real-time data is insufficient; its effective utilization is crucial in all aspects of business processes to maintain competitiveness and foster an anticipatory approach. Consequently, businesses must transform into real-time organizations to leverage the benefits of real-time data access.
We live in the present, which is where the benefit of real-time data collection and application occurs. This means organizations can shift to operating in real time by analyzing data-driven insights now to leverage them in many ways. These include delivering better customer service, turning around their inventory, and most importantly, better anticipating challenges and disruptions in the marketplace before they occur — a cornerstone to my Hard Trend Methodology and pre-solving problems.
Why, exactly, should your organization or any others in a specific industry become real-time organizations?
Certainly, nobody ever expresses gratitude for experiencing headaches, nor do they dismiss the importance of effective communication with customers. Proactively addressing issues before they escalate is the wiser approach, preventing setbacks that may arise. This becomes even more achievable when you possess complete access to data, streamlining the process of problem-solving.
A logistics company can strategize new routes before a winter storm hits, and still make their deadlines. A retailer can identify items that are in short supply before stock runs out. A financial advisor can day-trade based on up-to-date information for better results. A manufacturer can diagnose potential machine failures before they cause downtime and missed deadlines.
No matter the industry, the goal with real-time data is a customer-focused one, first and foremost. Because your processes will be efficient and more immediate in delivering results of any kind, your customers will in turn be happier. Essentially, instead of being proactive in solving a problem after it disrupts you, you are being pre-active in solving future events!
How about connecting with potential sales leads or new customers? The data that a real-time organization collects provides enough up-to-date information on demand to facilitate a more effective marketing and sales team.
At its core, “sales” means locating customers’ needs and interests, and leveraging them to introduce them to a product or service that satiates those needs and interests. Recent studies show that the human attention span is around 8 seconds, but you’d better believe that, with the immediacy of digital connectivity, a Hard Trend future certainty is that it will get shorter.
Therefore, sales and marketing strategies are most effective when needs and interests are addressed with a level of immediacy.
Examples in our world today include everything from YouTube offering related videos based on what a viewer just watched, all the way to retail sites like Amazon giving users suggestions on related products, based on what they just put in your cart. How can this concept be leveraged for your organization and industry?
When you anticipate customer needs as they occur, you are meeting that immediacy your customers have with a better, more immediate, experience.
As essential as real-time data and analytics are to the health and success of organizations, they may appear to be difficult to implement, especially if you are in a more niche industry, or are a B2B company.
For starters, the sheer amount of data that can be accumulated today is unfathomable to many, and, truth be told, not all of it is useful. It would take teams of dedicated data experts to analyze all the data that just one organization can collect, and by the time they give their findings to key decision-makers, it would no longer be real time.
Can we find a simple method to sort through this vast information and utilize it effectively?
Enter Continuous Intelligence (CI), an amalgamation of real-time analytics, machine learning, and automation. CI harnesses the power of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automatically process both historical and real-time data sets, providing actionable insights and recommendations. This transformative technology collaborates with you and your team, adopting an anticipatory approach.
As CI programs become more prominent, we are finding that they can be applied to any industry and any department for more informed actions. This includes supply chain companies, the manufacturing industry, healthcare, sales — you name it!
Let’s take the Wildlife Insights program from the Zoological Society of London and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Wildlife Insights uses ML to analyze camera trap data for streamlined decisions to help wildlife. The technology raises alerts to potential poaching, identifies wildlife patterns and threats, and predicts population changes. With CI, Wildlife Insights is really changing the game for wildlife preservation.
Arguably, there is evident high value in having market-based information available for all organizations looking to make the shift from being agile and reactionary to Anticipatory and, ultimately, a positive disruptor.
But turning your business into a real-time organization will not happen overnight. It is an evolutionary process that requires companies to be both agile and Anticipatory. The first step is to know your goals. Whether you want to enhance your brand, improve customer trust in your product or service, increase sales, or expand in general, you need to understand where you want to go.
Then, just start small. With the rapid acceleration of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS), access to CI applications will become more prevalent so you can keep your focus on the human side of this digital revolution — implementing the analytics of data to achieve your goals.
With the increase in software applications like CI, ML, AI, and various autonomous technologies, plus the increasing datafication of all industries, the need to make informed decisions quickly will be essential to staying competitive as conditions can change in an instant.
The question has become: Can you afford not to become a real-time organization?
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.