Data is being generated faster than ever before. Even small- and medium-sized businesses can generate gigabytes of data on any given day, but are they able to use that data effectively? As data comes into an organization, it must be processed and analyzed quickly in order to gains insights.
In this article, we will be going over the concept of real-time data, what it is, and how it can be used to create better insights for your business.
What is real-time data?
Real-time data is information that is delivered immediately after collection. There is little to no delay between when the information is collected and when it can be processed and analyzed by the business.
Data has always played a major role in business organizations, but it wasn’t until recently that new technologies allowed companies to take advantage of their data in real-time. New tools such as business intelligence (BI) software make it possible for data to be collected and analyzed in real-time.
How can real-time data benefit me?
Whether you like it or not, your organization needs access to its data in order to be run efficiently. When delays in getting the data occur, this can cause severe issues within the organization, causing delays in reporting, slow decision making, and poor choices. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from having real-time data in their organization. Here are a few examples of how real-time data can be beneficial:
1. Create an alerting system for exceptions
When exceptions occur that can be detrimental to the business, they can usually be identified through the data. Businesses use so many different software systems to keep track of their customers, employees, and partners. When these systems provide real-time data to a BI tool, exception reporting can be built out to manage these irregularities when they occur.
Being better informed about your business is critical to its continued success. Real-time data can provide you with better insights and help correct errors when they occur.
2. Keep employees better informed
We know that employees with more data tend to perform better at their job responsibilities. By enabling employees with real-time data, they will be able to make better decisions, help more customers, and operate more efficiently in their day-to-day responsibilities.
An example of this is a sales rep who wants to keep better track of their prospects and current customers. By having access to real-time phone call, email, and CRM data, they will be able to make better decisions to help their customer. Purchasing decisions can be quite complicated, so making sure the sales rep has access to all the data they need is critical.
3. Make better business decisions
Companies with real-time data are better equipped to make better business decisions and execute on company strategy. Traditional reporting usually is only performed as frequently as once a quarter, or sometimes only once a year. By giving executives access to real-time data and reporting, they will be able to make better-informed decisions for the business.
An example of this is using real-time data to generate financial reports such as a P&L statement or balance sheet. When executives have access to these reports in real-time, they will be able to understand the current financial health of the organization at this very moment, rather than what it was last quarter. That data can empower leaders across the organization to act quickly and effectively.
How can I get started collecting real-time data?
While it can seem quite daunting to start generating real-time data for your business, there are so many tools widely available for businesses of all sizes to get started. Real-time data can benefit your organization in so many ways, and the most important thing is to get started. Here are a few suggestions we recommend for starting with real-time data:
1. Understand your data sources
Understanding what data is most important to your business is a critical first step. Take some time to understand the different software and systems your company uses on a daily basis, and which ones would benefit having real-time data streams. Common systems can include customer relationship management (CRM) software, email, marketing tools, HR systems, or accounting software.
2. Look for a vendor that supports real-time data
It’s also important to partner with a vendor that possesses the capabilities of supporting real-time data streams. If you don’t have dedicated IT or development teams, you can partner with a BI vendor that makes it easy to integrate your source systems. New tools are available that make data integration as easy as a few clicks. In minutes, you will be able to create real-time data streams to power your business.
3. Identify quick wins
In many organizations, there are usually some quick ways you can make great use of your real-time data. Some teams may be incredibly eager to get access to the data. Identify some quick wins that will allow you to gain momentum with the project. You can start by working with a few data sources that will provide real-time data to certain teams. As these teams start to see the benefits of real-time data, they will be more motivated and will share their excitement with other teams.
4. Plan out a roadmap
Gaining access to real-time data is easy, but understanding how your organization will use that data can take time. By creating a roadmap outlining how different teams and organizations will start to use real-time data, you can ensure a greater adoption and application of your data. A data steering committee can be helpful here, as they will guide the organization through the process of creating and using their real-time data.
With so many benefits, it’s easy to see how real-time data can impact your organization. Data is the lifeblood of a business. With real-time data, you will be able to create faster insights, more easily delight customers, and execute better business decisions.
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