Why Real-Time Analytics May Not Pay

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Turning your company into a “real-time” enterprise may not be really smart.That is the case, says the consulting firm Gartner, even though one of the few bright spots in corporate spending on technology is putting systems in place to report business results at the moment they occur.

At its spring 2003 Symposium and Information Technology Expo, Gartner released a survey of 120 managers of North American and European firms that indicates that more than 20 percent say transforming their companies into “real-time enterprises” is one of their top five areas of investment.

“Real-time is becoming an important competency as businesses fight to retain demanding customers, while coping with economic uncertainty and turbulence,” said Gartner research director Mark Raskino.

But speeding up the delivery of such business information as manufacturing output and retail sales is not a cure-all. In fact, a rush to deployment could slow a company down, said Raskino.

“A general intent to do everything a bit quicker will not only be a poor substitute — it will be damaging,” he said. “Companies can’t afford to waste precious I.T. resources on generalizations.”

A lot of companies don’t even need to invest in new software, anyway, if they want to produce “real-time” information, say technology managers such as Ed Gillis, a senior information systems architect at Hartford Steam Boiler.Gillis tells Baseline in its March edition that the idea of real-time delivery and analysis may have captured the imagination of a lot of senior managers. But if they just unleashed the power of software they already bought and paid for they could obtain “the true benefit they’ve been trying to get out of their (enterprise resource planning) implementations over the last few years.”

The Gartner survey, conducted in January, said businesses expect the time it takes to execute key business processes will shrink by as much as 50 percent over the next five years. This push toward “real-time” operations will be sped up by the adoption by companies of mobile communications, instant messaging, enterprise portal and software that not just reports data, but immediately analyzes it.

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