As Web 2.0 continues to fuel more user-generated content than ever before, data scientists and developers alike are discovering new ways to incorporate all this information with new measurements and metrics. This has evolved to form a new field of data analytics centered on the capabilities that real-time data analytics can offer. Businesses are beginning to realize and integrate the capabilities that real-time data analytics can offer in their everyday operations.
The power of real-time analysis
Many of us know and rely upon delayed analysis tools and technology. It can take weeks, months, or even years for aggregate data to emerge on the intricate trends and events we want to learn more about. This is how we’ve done data for since the days of IBM mainframes and other large-scale computer systems decades ago. Analyses came as week-by-week reports from firms like Gallup and Nielsen in the United States. Even consumers relied upon the New York Times Bestseller list or Billboard Top 100 to make their book and music purchasing decisions.
But today, the real-time nature of the Internet has shifted the demand for analytics from weekly reports into a real time necessity. As things trend online, people want to know right away so as to best exploit the opportunities that arise in these trends. For example, many CDNs calibrate their network to respond quickly to DoS attacks as they emerge to improve mitigation. This granular understanding in real time allows teams to shift computing power toward networks under heavy load, or even to preemptively respond to attacks based off emerging patterns in real time. Akamai even takes this real-time capability to show the world its ability to have a pulse on real-time Internet connectivity with its web monitoring service.
The Real Time Web Monitor identifies global regions with the greatest web attack traffic, cities with the slowest web connections and areas with most web traffic
Social media’s relationship to real time analysis
Real-time analysis is also fueled by the swaths of data provided by social media services like Facebook and Twitter. Both companies are at the core of a growing community of social services that help businesses understand what is “Trending” at that very moment. There’s large scale and long term trends as well, but what companies often utilize the most is the real-time nature of interactions and activities on social media. During major sporting events or television shows, brands will interact with customers as their ads display on TV. Data is collected instantaneously about who’s tweeting about which ads, and which companies appear to have the most positive reactions to customer messages. PR firms and marketing agencies refine their messages in real time as the taste and preferences of users change in an ever-shifting digital landscape.
Social media is also helping democratize the accessibility of real-time data solutions and services. Rather than depend on a third party analytics firm to compile, process, and utilize data from social media, often these companies will give simplified analytics to business users for free, as well as enable business users to utilize data from Facebook or Twitter to understand how customers and users interact with their brands digitally.
Both companies are shifting their capabilities from being more than just a user to user social services, but also user to business social services. Real-time analytics can help share insights on what kind of questions customers ask businesses, what kind of promotions and social media posts they respond best with, and how businesses can better advertise themselves. This represents a shift in not only how quickly businesses use the data they gather to make better business decisions, but also who they have to partner with in order to gain such useful insights.
The evolution of interaction through real-time analysis
The growing focus on real-time analysis is ultimately changing how businesses and customers interact on a global scale. The era of quarterly strategies is over. The most successful companies that utilize real-time data and analytics do so at break-neck speeds. Data is coming not only from large data firms, but from democratized sources such as social media companies. It’s making the marketing experience more personal and interactive than ever, as well as enabling firms to react immediately and strategically.