I was recently giving a presentation to a rather large utility provider, and was asked the question “But why do I need real-time?”
Good question. And a very difficult question to answer correctly in most cases. There’s lots of answers that address the requirement – in theory. Take your pick from the ones I come across most often, and may even be guilty of uttering one or two of these myself:
- React to an opportunity or threat
- Become more proactive
- Prioritize resources
- Make smarter decisions quicker
But sometimes the right answer lies in asking a question in return. “Is there anything you could do if you knew something had just occurred?“ This turns the question around to the customer and they always find that there is always something that can be done to improve the situation!
Within a business context, knowing immediately if there are problems means that you know at least as soon as your customers do. A well known analyst firm estimates that more than 60% of problems are reported by customers (and in our experience, this number is low. We generally see numbers approaching 80%) But the value of detection is completely lost if there isn’t a plan for reacting.
So one definition of real-time is defined or determined by the window of time that exists whereby a detection and reaction have maximum benefit. So whether you need to react within 5 minutes, or 5 micro-seconds, each situation has it’s own context and definition of real-time.
But the real value of detection is predicting situations in advance by being able to detect the patterns that indicate a high probability of something about to happen in the future. This is possible so long as situations exhibit a consistent set of early-warning signs – to the uninitiated it can seem a little bit like High tech fortune telling. But the results are definitely worth it. We’ve seen results in our customers showing more than an 80% drop in customer detection rates and incidents tagged as high priority. It’s where we definitely see the value of Complex Event Processing and Business Activitiy Monitoring intersecting.