Real-time analytics begins to find business vocation
PA Consulting’s UK analytics lead, Nigel Robinson, discusses how businesses can act on the signals provided by continuous real-time analytics.
The article discusses how continuous real-time analytics, operating at sub-second speed, are finding real-world applicability across industry sectors, such as retail, transport and banking. Their value crux: can businesses act on the signals provided?
It goes on to say that although faster data analysis is always useful, there is no single industry definition of real-time analytics.
Nigel says: “Real time is an often misused moniker. There are clearly applications for it in business and the public sector. We see it in law enforcement, or in retail through recommendation engines. That is the public perception of real time. But often clients see real time as reporting twice-a-day or twice-daily updates to a model.”
Nonetheless, the majority of business analysis suppliers are adding real-time capabilities to their tools, making them easier to roll out and use.
“Real time has been seen as the next big thing, but organisations have tried to implement these solutions [only to find] that the organisation, or its technology, has not been set up to deploy it,” Nigel cautions.
As the term suggests, real-time analytics is most useful when a problem needs to be solved quickly. In practice, it comes into its own when it is deployed to solve a known problem with a clearly defined outcome or action. If that outcome can be automated, so much the better.
Nigel points to systems that can check for bus lane infringements, or congestion in airports, stations and other passenger hubs. The firm worked with Dutch rail operator NS to add real-time analysis of carriage congestion to its smartphone app. The “seat finder” function uses IoT data and Lidar technology, and currently covers trains operating between Arnhem, Nijmegen and Den Bosch.
Nigel continues: “Just because you can get information to someone sooner, doesn’t mean they will act on it. That is not a CIO problem, it’s one of broader culture.”
Unless that is addressed, it is a “battle of the truths”, he says. “You have to be led by the data.”