What Can the Real-Time Web Economy Do for Your Business?

Originally published July 21, 2010

The explosion of instant content produced by online news sites, blogs, and social media has huge implications for the business and has become top of mind for information executives. When harnessed in real-time, predictions of future market trends and superior business decisions are inevitable.

What’s changed is information officers now have a whole new breed of data to think about thanks to the real-time Web. The real-time Web is actually much broader than microblogs such as Twitter – it’s instantly available news, search, and information from within the enterprise (e.g., collaboration tools such as wikis) and also legacy applications. The mind-staggering speed at which this data accumulates is what makes it so difficult to harness and make sense of. To quantify this in physical terms, a May 2010 EMC-sponsored IDC study found that the amount of digital information that will be created in 2010 alone will be 1.2 zettabytes, which equals 75 billion fully loaded 16 GB Apple iPads!

Making matters more complicated is that much of this data is completely unstructured, meaning the common tools enterprises use for business intelligence (BI) initiatives and related applications are rendered useless. As such, the existing challenge integrating this data into enterprise information systems is even more profound. And with real-time Web data only increasing, the winners in this new environment will be those companies that can figure out how to capitalize on the new real-time information streams available today, and make them relevant, meaningful and actionable to their organizations.

Given these real-time Web data access and delivery challenges faced by literally every industry, there’s recently been a lot of talk about Web data services as a possible fix. Wikipedia defines Web data services as “service oriented architecture (SOA) applied to data sourced from the World Wide Web.” In plain English, these services are basically designed to speed the finding, cleaning, and feeding of Web data and content into business applications. Industry watchers are validating that organizations increasingly need relevant, real-time data from public websites, such as BBC.com, or social networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, as well as from private, firewall-protected websites and Web applications to make better business decisions, faster. Web data services effectively deliver a modern and massive scale data integration method for the real-time enterprise.

A good first step in harnessing this treasure trove of Web data is for organizations to break down the different types of information available and then select what is most relevant to their particular goals and needs. What follows is a short list of information categories and how companies can leverage these to predict future business events and improve their competitive position:

  • Pricing and Competitive Intelligence – Product manufacturers and retailers can collect, analyze and monitor competitor product prices from any website that lists product prices. For e-retailers, it is critical to monitor prices on Amazon, eBay, etc.

  • Voice of the Customer – There are two angles to monitor for customer sentiment. One form analyzes customer loyalty (i.e., corporate brand sentiment) on social networks, blogs, forums, etc. The other gathers and reviews product feedback from forums and e-commerce sites that have “customer reviews” sections. The latter is something that Intuit, a leading provider of business and financial management solutions, leverages to continually improve its products usability and features based on immediate customer feedback. This is particularly important for consumer industries with high product turnover or revisions.

  • Marketing Campaign ROI – Marketing professionals can measure performance and results on marketing spend for funnel optimization and ROI by analyzing all marketing activities from buyer awareness through purchase activities. By measuring SEO keyword Google analytics, marketing campaigns can be adjusted in real-time to improve performance.

  • Market Indicators, Research, and Trends – Organizations can build fundamental data models on variables that most affect their business. An example is Deutsche Boerse, the German stock exchange, where the energy traders and market analysts need advanced visibility and warnings on the factors that will affect the price of fuel to make the necessary adjustments in their trading strategies. Here the weather forecasts, lake/river water levels, power plant outages, etc. are key indicators to monitor and analyze from a combination of public and subscribed data (custom data feeds from data providers such as Bloomberg). Another example is global financial services firm, Morgan Stanley, creating equity research reports based on nonfinancial data (i.e., local real estate trends, employment data, etc.).

  • B2B Optimization – Businesses can create logistics dashboards and analytics to track, collaborate and optimize activities between suppliers, vendors and partners as does JB Hunt, a large transportation logistics company. In the financial services arena, Fiserv, a leading provider of technology solutions to the financial world, relies on a regulatory compliance dashboard to monitor, measure and report on over 10,000 treasury transactions per day across 300 banks.
Once an organization has determined which type and format of real-time Web data is most critical to integrate with its BI tools, they should investigate how Web data services can ease the data access and integration challenges and feed their applications with a new level of Web intelligence. In doing so, organizations can claim their leadership position in the real-time Web economy.

SOURCE: What Can the Real-Time Web Economy Do for Your Business?

  • Stefan AndreasenStefan Andreasen
    Stefan is founder and Chief Technology Officer at Kapow Technologies, a leading provider of Web data services. He has consulted with hundreds of global companies and ISVs on best practices for web data integration and speaks frequently at industry events on topics such as enterprise software innovation and Web 2.0 trends. He can be reached at Stefan.andreasen@kapowtech.com.


 

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