In today’s 24/7 digital world, ensuring an ‘always-on’ business performance fuelled by real-time data intelligence that is readily accessible and visible is a high priority in boardroom discussions. Right now, companies are generating about 10% of data outside a traditional data centre or cloud environment. But this will soon change, with Gartner predicting that over the next six years this figure will increase to 75% – a significant shift in paradigm.

The growing use of the Internet of Things (IoT) powered by devices such as sensors is driving this change. Companies are under even more pressure to ensure their business is ‘always on’, and more importantly, can quickly process data at the edge. Having this capability is essential for generating the real-time data insights and intelligence required by leaders operating 21st century businesses.

Given the fast pace of technological change and its importance, it is understandable that many business leaders feel overwhelmed by the digital transformation discussion and may not know where to start. This is particularly the case when it comes to IT infrastructure and new concepts like edge computing and the link to real-time data.

Not embracing edge computing and other technology strategies right now can result in significant business opportunity costs. If you can’t service your customers on-demand around the clock, through real-time data insights, or by having your business ‘always on’, your organisation could be marginalised. The potential consequences are not only financial – there is potential brand damage and loss of future revenue from dissatisfied customers not being serviced promptly.

Real-time data is a necessity to stay relevant for today’s business. And it needs to be delivered by sophisticated digital computing tools, platforms and infrastructure to remain appealing to today’s tech-savvy workforce and customers.

Until recently, business leaders have largely depended on historical data to predict and prepare for future events. The good news is, technology can now provide leaders with up-to-the-minute intelligence based on present conditions. This allows leaders to monitor their operations in real-time and respond to incidents as they happen, allowing for more timely and intelligent business decisions to be made.

Faster processing at the edge to capture real-time insights and intelligence fits perfectly into the objectives and goals of digital transformation.

Here are four major reasons why leaders should invest in real-time data infrastructure to power their always-on strategies:

  1. Real-time data improves customer experience

    When customers call, they don’t want to be put on hold or given the run around while a representative searches for their information. When agents have real-time data available at their fingertips, they can respond with greater speed and accuracy to customer needs.

    In a contact centre environment, a real-time data dashboard can immediately display vital customer information when a call comes into a contact centre, eliminating the need to take the time to look up customer history and data.

    Further, when businesses have real-time intelligence and can use the data to predict future trends and purchasing behaviour, businesses can meet their customer’s needs anytime and anywhere. An example of a company doing this well is Amazon; it uses real-time data and predictive analytics to ensure it has what its customers want 24/7, even before they place an order. Real-time data and being ‘always-on' is at the core of Amazon’s success.

  2. Real-time data increases sales and improves overall financial performance

    Making the switch to edge computing that facilitates real-time data capture allows businesses to more accurately track project costs, such as the flow of resources and subsequently the ROI of certain projects.

    For B2C businesses, real-time analytics show exactly how sales are tracking. If an internet retailer sees that a product is doing extremely well, it can take action to prevent missing out on potential revenue by ensuring that product is always available and in stock. While the initial outlay for implementing real-time data analytics tools could be significant, the ongoing benefits to a business is well worth the investment.

  3. Real-time data increases accuracy and operational efficiency

    Real-time data helps identify patterns behind what a business has, how it is being used, and where improvements can be made. This enables businesses to develop a strategy to improve operations, keep a handle on all organisational assets, and devise appropriate preventative maintenance plans. Having real-time visibility in your project pipeline means the business can accurately match supply and demand of assets; service organisations can quickly and accurately gauge client demand and allocate resources appropriately.

  4. Real-time data improves decision-making and crisis management

    When something goes wrong in any type of enterprise, leaders need immediate information from supervisors and managers to assess the situation. With the right technology in place, real-time data allows leaders to make informed decisions. Those decisions are effectively more precise and result in fewer mistakes and less rework.

    Being ‘always-on' in business is no longer just nice to have – it’s an imperative. In today's competitive business landscape, with customers demanding instantaneous products and services 24/7, it’s prudent for leaders to invest in real-time data technology to maintain the sustainability and competitiveness of their business.