As organisations become more reliant on technology and move further online and into the cloud, many of our businesses are now operating around the clock. To be able to make decisions in a timely way and seize opportunities as they arise, you need access to data as it is gathered, through real-time data integration.
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Real-time data integration is the process of integrating data from various sources into a destination or master system in real-time. This means that as soon as data is created or updated in any system that forms part of the data network, that information is immediately made accessible in the in the target system or database.
If one system is receives new data or input, the relevant information is updated in all of the other business systems as well.
Real-time data integration has benefits where access to recent data is important. Rather than waiting for data from one system to be processed and transformed to another, real-time data integration can give you immediate access to information as it is received or updated.
Access to real-time data will reduce delays and speed up how quickly you can make changes, adapt and pivot what you do. Benefits include better:
Like it or not, real-time data integration is imperative. The need for real-time data is being driven by advancements in technologies such as streaming data platforms, in-memory databases, and real-time analytics. Real-time data integration can provide several benefits to businesses, such as:
Access to up-to-date and correct data can help you and your business make timely decisions based on the evidence. If you are in e-commerce, real-time data integration will give you access to accurate stock and quantity figures. This is so useful when you are having a sale or have limited stock so that you can manage your inventory and your customers are not disappointed when they try to purchase items that are no longer available.
When you have multiple shopfronts or stores, you want all of your staff to have access to consistent information about sales, codes, and offers, which you can enable through the data network.
Real-time data helps you make decisions based on the most accurate and updated information from across multiple systems. It has benefits in just about every business setting and here are a few examples. Complex health care services providers may need access to records held in different systems or formats because this access enables more cohesive and consistent patient care.
Government agencies may need access to customer records generated for different purposes and held in different systems. Financial services may need to update offerings in relation to changes in stocks and share prices across a variety of accounting and financial applications.
There are also benefits for the use of real-time data integration in manufacturing, where it can be used to monitor performance and output. It also gives you the ability to test variations and see immediate results from any changes that are made.
Real-time data integration can also help transportation and logistics companies optimise their operations by providing real-time tracking of the location and status of shipments in real-time. In B2B, this enables customers to be provided with up-to-date information about when deliveries can be expected, helping them to manage their own workflows and processes.
Real-time data integration also has a role to play in the timely detection of fraud. Real-time data processing can be used to help you when there have been fraudulent transactions attempted or processed. This enables you to quickly identify any risks and act to isolate transactions or records. This extra level of security also instils confidence among your customers.
Real-time data integration requires the proper security measures to ensure that data is protected. It's important to implement encryption, access controls, and other security measures to ensure that data is secure and protected from unauthorised access.
Even if you are going to recruit some outside help for your data integration to real-time project, there are plenty of things you can be doing right now to prepare you for the changes that are coming. Best practice strategies include:
Real-time data integration has been implemented successfully in various industries and use cases here in Australia and right around the world. Companies like Netflix and Uber have detailed how real-time data has benefited their operations. These companies have seen improvements in understanding of behaviour preferences, smarter offers, and personalisation, reduced wait times, and an overall improvement in customer experiences.
Royal Caribbean Cruises have gone on the record to promote how real-time data integration has enabled them to identify efficiencies in fuel consumption, engine performance, and other critical systems. Ticketek uses real-time data integration to optimise online ticket sale processes. Amazon's AWS product uses real-time data integration to personalise recommendations, optimise pricing, and improve supply chain management. The dynamic pricing tool algorithm uses real-time data integration to adjust prices in real-time based on supply and demand.
Fuji Xerox found that real-time monitoring lead to improvements in their production process. Clunky spreadsheets had previously been used to collate data related to the production of print consumables such as toner. It often took staff a few days to collate data and identify any slow points or failures. This meant that it often took more than a week to remedy problems on the production line, which were not necessarily apparent to staff but which were impacting output. To enable access to production data in real-time, Fuji Xerox installed data display boards and IPads on the factory floor. This gave staff ready access to process data and saved more than an hour of data entry per day. Other benefits included a reduction in overtime hours paid and a much shorter resolution span for issues with machinery and equipment.
A leading Australian medical insurance company, with branches right around the country, was finding challenges in providing up-to-date and accurate information to customers about the status of their claims. This slow spot in their system was exacerbated by the challenges of COVID-19. In an effort to improve agility and responsiveness to customers, the company used an Azure-based platform to migrate and transform a variety of client files and records. Through real-time integration, staff now have access to claims data and insights, with a reduced need for manual requests and no delays in accessing receipts and other documents once they have been uploaded.
As these examples demonstrate, real-time data integration enables you to make timely and informed decisions based on the most up-to-date information available. This is critical for achieving business goals, providing outstanding customer service and maintaining a competitive advantage.
You can scrape the internet for use real-time data on any number of listing or content types that could have a benefit or impact on your business. Content that is frequently updating includes:
You can also use data analytics information to keep up with consumer trends, statistics or comments. A web scraping tool can alert you to any changes in any data you choose so you don't have to spend time surfing the internet and researching.