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Real-time data access does not equal effective data management

I constantly hear about real-time and on-demand data integration, data access, data processing, data analyzing, blah blah blah. It seems to be the only selling point of some vendors. I am of the belief that effective data management has less to do with real-time data access and more to do with efficient data access at the right time in accordance with each unique business cycle. Am I correct to think this, or do we really live in an "on-demand" world?

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Hooray! A reader who understands that data integration is about business requirements, not feeds and speeds! Be it data integration, data warehousing, BI, or serving dinner, real-time anything is only as valuable as the business requirements that drive it. In other words, how hungry are you, really? We're seeing a lot of cart-before-the-horse situations with this one, and we constantly come back to the question: What business problems will real-time data access help you solve?

For instance, if a customer has just unsuccessfully tried to make a purchase on your web site and subsequently calls the call center for help, real-time data access might help you to support that customer more effectively, since you understand their most recent (as in, 2 minutes ago) transaction with your company. In this instance, the call can be routed to agents with the best expertise. On the other hand, the time and cost of enabling real-time data access--I know vendors, this is heresy--might exceed the value of the solution. So, it all comes back to the need, pain, or problem your company is trying to solve. Congratulations for catching on before you've made the investments!

This was first published in June 2006

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