The 'two-second advantage': real time gets real for many organizations

At Tibco's user conference, leading organizations make the business case for real-time event processing.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

My colleague at ebizQ and a highly regarded thought-leader in event processing, Brenda Michelsen, attended this week’s Tibco user conference, and provided plenty of accounts of real-time processing in action. For some industries, financial services and intelligence agencies taking the lead, speed means everything. Leading companies across other industries are now also grasping for what Tibco CEO Vivek Ranadive referred to as the "two-second advantage."

An F/A-18 Hornet at transonic  speed and displaying the  Prandtl-Glauert singularity just before breaking the sound barrier.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons, US Navy

Ranadive shared the Silicon Valley secret that the most innovative, high-growth companies – Google, Facebook, Amazon – “are not using relational databases,” but rather, ‘in-memory’ information stores” to speed up their event processing capabilities.

Examples of real-world business interaction/operations issues that can be resolved and/or turned to advantage, using event processing include lost baggage, dropped calls, out-of-stock (complimentary offers), and smart power grids.

Real-time information and event processing is a high priority for other leading organizations, as Brenda reported:

Interpol: Ronald K. Noble, secretary general of this international police agency, provided perspective on the need for real-time responsiveness, even between systems and networks of different countries. For example, he said,  there are 500 million passenger arrival events annually across the globe, and many passports are not screened against the database of lost or stolen passports, because systems are not connected.  There are almost 12 million passport records in the stolen and lost travel document database.

OfficeMax: Randy G. Burdick, EVP and CIO, described how the retailer implemented an architecture, based on an enterprise service bus, that managed business events such as store sales and distributing item information. Through real-time analysis, OfficeMax is able to order out-of-stock items from the point of sale, employ predictive monitoring of core business processes such as order fulfillment, and conduct real-time analysis of business transactions, to quickly measure and track product affinity, hot sellers, proactive inventory response, price error checks, and cross-channel analysis.

PepsiCo: Brenda describes how PepsiCo is employing real-time analytics to manage its transportation and logistics, “A common use case for real-time information.” In this case, PepsiCo’s challenge was to more efficiently manage the dedicated fleet.  “The cost of carrying the dedicated fleet during the downturn was exorbitant,” Brenda relates.  “However, the cost (and risk) of not having a dedicated fleet during good economic times was untenable.” In addition, the decision-making process for allocating shipments was manual and labor-intensive. The company needed real-time feedback and a way to communicate automatically with dedicated and company fleet carriers, as well as a real-time business fact cost valuation for fleet trips. The company also needed to better automate shipment decisions.

Through business process optimization, the company reported it was able to accomplish these goals. Lessons learned included the need to “break complex actions into smaller actions that can be re-used; capture enough data elements in events for future expansion of business rules; and involve business early in defining business rules, actions and data elements.”

ZDNet colleague Dennis Howlett also provides his insights from TUCON: "Complexity is cool" -- and even has complementary words about Tibco's new buzzphrase, "Enterprise 3.0."

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, US Navy)

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