New physical and digital worlds are emerging, and recent technological developments enable companies to react in real time in order to influence what is about to happen. This is called ‘fast data’, as opposed to ‘big data’ which allows us to understand what has already happened. TIBCO provides companies with software solutions to access and assemble data, including combining different sources of external data, and to use them to come up with an analysis that delivers the outcomes to act and immediately influence events. The key is to bypass spreadsheets by visualizing relevant outcomes and required actions, so that people are easily able to comprehend what is happening and what to do. TIBCO and ORTEC have joined forces to assist in the process of bridging the gap between customers’ business issues, huge mountains of data and understandable outcomes and actions.
Hurdles to be Overcome in Creating Fast Data
Robin McArthur of TIBCO
explains that ‘the internet of things’ enables us to prevent failure in machines, to drive sales in retail, and to react to social media by using real time data. Although technology enables us to do this, there are still hurdles for companies to overcome before they can use it properly. McArthur: “We all look at data in different ways, and inevitably we see something unexpected and naturally we want to learn more. TIBCO Spotfire helps companies get to the answers as quickly as possible. Start by defining the business challenge, check available data, combine it with relevant external data to extract value to support business processes. By using data analyses and modeling, it is possible to visualize the relevant insight and share this quickly across the organization.” McArthur makes it sound so simple, but how can a company start to analyze and collect relevant data to tackle a complex business challenge?
What You Should Know about Your Data in order to Transform it into Fast Data
The first step is knowing what you need to know about your data, i.e. the data assessment. Which relevant data is available? What is the quality of the data and what is its architecture? What needs do you have and what are your future needs? “If you think ahead, you’re able to define what you should be collecting,” explains Frank Mak
, Consultant at ORTEC. Supporting data can be used in decision-making processes. The phases of agile data discovery, to collect relevant data and solve the business challenge, are:
- Recognize the problem, define the question or business issue
- Review your previous findings
- Prepare the data
- Model and select variables
- Analyze the data
- Present and act on results
The involvement and extent of supporting data in the decision-making processes depends on the issue. “It can be used to support a decision, it can be partly automated, or sometimes it’s possible to fully optimize and automate processes based on data outcomes,” explains Mak. According to him, the key to working with data-driven decisions is to take one small step at a time, to combine real time data with relevant external variables, and to visualize the possible actions.
Benefits of Fast Data and Bypassing Spreadsheets
Transforming (big) data into fast data by working with real time data about external variables allows organizations e.g. to forecast customer demand. The fast data enables you to derive and deliver the right message, with the right offer to the right people, at the right time, and via the best available medium. Fast data is also used to make important decisions. For example, for CargoSmart, TIBCO Spotfire calculates optimized shipment routes to reduce the risk of late arrivals. They also check whether a harbor will be accessible when the ship arrives. If it isn’t, the vessel can continue at a slower pace, which saves a lot of fuel.
TIBCO’s Spotfire is a software solution that enables organizations to access and assemble all of their data and to analyze it simply. People work according to the same information and valuable insights which are easy to share, so this method puts data science into the hands of business users. An example of this is at Marks and Spencer’s, where TIBCO Spotfire has enabled the company to transform itself into a data-driven company. The Head of Enterprise Analytics at Marks & Spencer, Peter Williams, is cited by McArthur. He said about TIBCO Spotfire: “Visualizing data changes people’s perception of what we can do. We can bypass the spreadsheets and identify where action is needed.” And that is exactly what TIBCO offers through its partnership with ORTEC. McArthur: “Together we bridge the canyon between a mountain of data and understandable outcomes, by bypassing spreadsheets and simply visualizing the actions needed.”