Understanding the business value of real-time analytics
Floris van der Walt, Regional Service Delivery Manager at PBT Group
Regardless of size, businesses across industries and sectors need to react much quicker to customer
requests that can include everything from quotations and proposals to delivering on services. It does not
stop there. Internal management, marketing initiatives, operational requirements, and more need to be
done more rapidly than in the past, to ensure customer satisfaction and in return, retention. This is where
analytics comes into play.
Real-time analytics plays a pivotal role in gathering relevant information from the multitude of systems used
in businesses today. In turn, this data is transformed into valuable information used for decision-making
purposes or direct action to steer or execute work.
However, real-time analytics does not necessarily happen immediately due to the complexities and cost
involved. Rather, it appears as the value derived in the process. The real-time aspect therefore means how
information is made available to be analysed when required.
Up until recently, daily extracts were used as the basis for analytics. In fact, many organisations still rely on
this. The constant drive to enhance and improve has seen this starting to change into much smaller timeincrements or streamed data being used for analytics, such as transactions as they happen. Despite this
growing need for more frequently updated sales reports, processing throughput charts, or parts per million
quality tracking dashboards, real-time is relative to the industry that it is being applied to.
For instance, services like media streaming businesses, telephony providers, or financial institutions that
provide ‘instant loans’ would need to rely on real-time information to prevent delays that could negatively
impact their customers. Analytics in these environments would therefore need to be ‘fast enough’ to inform
processes and people to allow for insights, decisions, and actions to be taken.
Being able to react based on the most up to date information not only gives a company an advantage over
its competitors, but also contributes to improved effectiveness within an organisation. Generally, benefits
can be grouped as follows:
- Capitalising on the situation by using and applying insights from the real-time analytics to the benefit of
the business. Gaining competitive advantage by selling specific products sooner than competitors, or
at more affordable price. Examples can include personalised real-time marketing where SMS,
WhatsApp, and other notifications are sent to customers when arriving at a mall based on their own
- Maintain continuous operations by understanding the status of processes, equipment, or services, and
being able to act on insights to, for example:
• Maintain or repair equipment before failures occur (manufacturing or processing)
• Address service level issues to meet demand and expectation (Internet, data, telephony, banking
Driving continuous improvement
Additionally, in the same way that organisations can benefit from applying Kaizen principle of Continuous
Improvement – i.e., small positive incremental changes that yield compounding benefits over time – realtime analytics plays a powerful role in enabling organisations derive value in a similar way. It is because
real-time analytics provides, or significantly contributes to, the information needed to identify the positive
changes that drives the Kaizen principal.
There are many examples where real-time analytics plays a significant role. The golden thread centres on
time and cost-savings. Ultimately, by doing things in less time or at a lower cost than expected or needed,
business performance is improved.