In today's economic climate, the need to shorten the time it takes to collect, analyze and redistribute vital information to appropriate managers, line personnel and account executives has created a significant buzz around the term "real-time" specifically in the analytics and business intelligence (BI) markets. Most companies continue to experience the greatest benefits of real-time BI in customer service and support, financial administration, and sales and marketing. Numerous applications already include a direct self-service component that provides timely information for customers regarding order shipment, airline arrivals and departures, and a wide range of government-related information. With regard to financial administration, benefits of real-time BI can be seen in the development of budgets, the dissemination of financial information and financial alerts when certain thresholds are reached. In the areas of sales and marketing, sales account executives using a real-time system have a complete picture of the customer including current complaints, orders and payment histories. Consequently, they are better able to plan a strategy prior to making a call. Obviously, the ultimate goal of real-time BI is to increase revenue generation opportunities and overall profit.
While the benefits that can be realized through real-time BI are significant, corporations face a multitude of obstacles that can inhibit success. These roadblocks include: the need to analyze too much data too quickly and with insufficient IT resources; the quality of the data that must be analyzed in seconds; and the skill of those who must make decisions quickly, when in the past they had time to conduct extensive research and analysis prior to formulating an action. However, if these roadblocks are removed through careful planning and the right technological infrastructure is put in place, everyone will benefit in the long run. Not surprisingly, success hinges on strategic planning and execution. A wise capital investment can enable proactive strategy rather than reactive response.
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