Company’s Profits by Becoming a Real-Time Organization
By Daniel Burrus
Thanks to modern technology, today’s computers and networks are ready
for real-time data communications, and the advantages are nothing
short of revolutionary. Some industries, including
telecommunications, finance, and manufacturing, are already using
real-time data in parts of their operations.
But having real-time data is not enough. To successfully compete and
increase your company’s bottom line, you need to become a real-time
organization. In other words, you need to use your real-time data to
change how you work, how you manage, and how you sell.
Imagine for a
moment how much more productive and profitable your company could be
if you could track products from warehouse to store shelves in
real-time, provide targeted offers the moment a customer calls, and
give executives up-to-the-minute reports on critical operations
data? When you integrate existing technologies to become a real-time
organization, you can do precisely that and so much more.
The fact is that organizations operating in real-time can deliver better
customer service, turn around inventory faster, respond quicker to
changes in the marketplace, and better anticipate challenges
before they impact the business. Consider the following benefits
of becoming a real-time organization.
You can be
You’ve likely used the word “proactive,” which means taking positive
action now. But how do you know the actions you’re taking will be
positive when you have to wait and see? Those aren’t good odds. A
better idea is to be pre-active to future known events.
For example, if your real-time data indicates that there was a run on
blue jeans, size 32 waist and 34 inseam, in store number 53 and that
there is only one pair left, you can safely predict that tomorrow
there will be one or more customers who will not find what they
want. You can solve this problem before it occurs. When you use your
real-time data to be a real-time organization, everyone involved
with keeping the shelves stocked will automatically be informed of
the stock levels and the supply chain wheels will turn to make sure
no customer is unable to find what he or she wants.
You can have
up-to-date information on demand:
While many companies offer information on
demand, most of the information is not up-to-the-minute. Becoming a
real-time organization changes all that. Here is a simple yet
powerful example of how real-time data can change even the most
routine of chores.
Remember when you were in college and needed to use the school
Laundromat to wash your clothes? All too often, everyone else had
the same idea you did and all the washers and dryers were taken.
Today, many universities use real-time data to change the Laundromat
problem. Now students can use their computers from their dorm rooms
to see which washers and dryers are in use and which are out of
service. The smart Laundromat system can even e-mail or send a text
message to a cell phone to let the users know that the machines are
finished. Ask yourself, “Is my business as advanced as a college
You can conduct
The best time to market to people is when they
demonstrate a need. As such, good salespeople do event-based
marketing all the time. If you show an interest in something, they
grab the opportunity to show you something else they feel you might
also be interested in.
With real-time data you can do event-based marketing without human
intervention. For example, consider how Amazon.com makes additional
sales. If you click on a book about the Lewis and Clark expedition,
you will get a list of other top selling Lewis and Clark books on
the same page. Does such an approach work? It’s one of the reasons
that Amazon’s stock has been one of best performing Nasdaq stocks
for many years.
Create a Real-Time
If you want your company to experience similar benefits, then you
need to go from merely having real-time information and use it to
become a real-time organization. The following tips will help.
Know Your Goals:
basic concept of real-time is that when something happens, you want
to react to it the moment it happens, not an hour, day, week, or
month later. As the speed at which a company can intelligently and
automatically respond to change increases, the cost of all their
business processes decreases. Hearing this, you might think
real-time is all about speed, but that’s only part of the equation.
If you don’t know where you want to go, then faster won’t help!
In order to gain
the largest ROI for real-time initiatives, they need to be tied to
your company’s overall goals and objectives. Therefore, what do you
hope to achieve? Are you trying to increase sales? Improve customer
service? Enhance your brand? Enter new markets? Whatever it is you
want for your business, state it clearly so you can make sure your
real-time activities support your overall goals.
Just as there is a
difference between strategy and tactics, there is a difference
between real-time computing and real-time business. Real-time
processing can be seen as event-driven computing. Real-time
business, on the other hand, takes business agility—the ability to
rapidly respond to changing conditions as they happen—to the next
enterprise is defined by its ability to access information across
all boundaries of the organization. By integrating people, strategy,
technology, and processes, real-time organizations are able to
recognize shifts in customer demand as they happen and respond
accordingly with customer-focused solutions. This enables them to
use their higher level of business agility as a competitive weapon,
grabbing market share from less agile competitors.
Realize that being a real-time organization is an evolutionary
process. An ancient Chinese proverb states that a journey of a
thousand miles begins with a single step. Therefore, select a place
to start and build out from there. For example, Amberwood Homes, a
residential homebuilder, has cut three weeks from the five months it
takes to build an average 3,000 square foot home by sharing
information with plumbers, roofers, masons, and other subcontractors
via hand-held devices in real-time. That does not mean that all of
Amberwood’s business processes and partners are operating in real
time; it means they picked a profitable place to start and will
build off that success.
The Real-Time Advantage:
There is a clear competitive advantage to having high value,
market-based information available almost instantly to the right
people, both inside and outside of your company, and using that
information to make quicker, more informed decisions.
is about leveraging all of your relationships through optimized
business processes that can take advantage of nearly instantaneous
communications across all the components of a true collaborative
network. Delivering up-to-the-minute data with proper context makes
all the difference between information and actionable knowledge.
trend is very real and its impact will be felt by every industry,
whether they choose to buy into the concept or not. In today’s
hypercompetitive marketplace, there is a great advantage to
extending your business processes via the Internet to your
customers, partners, suppliers, and employees in real time. Those
who take advantage of this trend will emerge as the market leaders
and will watch their profits and productivity dramatically increase.
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