Getting Real About Doing Business in Real Time

Michael Vizard

We all know that the business wants IT to reflect the state of the business in as close to real-time as possible. We also know that accomplishing that means a lot of investments in custom programming, which is why we see so few real-time systems outside the financial services sector.


But as IT increasingly becomes a strategic part of the business, it becomes apparent that the need for real-time applications is growing. To satisfy this need, we're starting to see the emergence of frameworks for complex events processing (CEP). Based on event-driven application development architectures, these frameworks from companies such as Aleri, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle make it easier for a company to deploy a custom real-time application. There's no doubt a lot of custom coding that still has to go on, but at least nobody has to continually reinvent the same real-time software infrastructure over and over again.


One area where CEP applications should start to proliferate more is on the Web. Aleri, for example, has partnered with Semphonic, a consulting firm that specializes in building applications in the retail sector. Semphonic plans to use the Aleri framework to build applications that monitor the behavior of customers in real-time on the Web, which in turns will kick off any number of possible offers.


CEP frameworks, coupled with significantly less expensive hardware systems, will change the perception of what has been only been theoretically possible in a lot different vertical segments. The only question is how will business processes evolve alongside this relatively new IT capability?


There is a tremendous amount of focus these days on business process management (BPM). But not much of this discussion seems to include the impact real-time applications will have on the way a company does business.


So the question is, are organizations really up to the task of conducting business in real time, or is this another example of where the technology is again out in front of the business reality?



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