Dear Readers,

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.

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