As we are all getting excited about HANA and realtime business information through replication, a question appears to be appearing more frequently: “I have different data on my screen – are you sure you have the right Information Space showing you stock movement?”
The beauty and speed of HANA seems so out of the ordinary compared to other products that people are not used to it. We are used to see consistent figures on a daily basis and in most businesses weekly. Sales pipeline, call centre results and predictions can be discussed in board meetings and everyone looks at the same data. With HANA the game changes, as while you are sitting in the meeting, there is a sale which could go through right at that moment and change figures on the screen. This would cause some headscratching, as the Excel spreadsheets everyone uses don’t show the same figures …
So the first point will be to move away from Excel spreadsheets, “they are history”, we live in the now. The second point in my introduction is about “Who is more up to date?” and when do we know if we need to refresh? I like to go into each of these points a little deeper in this blog.
I believe mobile platforms can help us to get used to such speeds and up to date information, everything up to date at a touch of a button. Mobile users are not used to wait minutes for data to appear, they want it under 3 seconds and that is fast – too fast for most databases. Meetings will need to adapt from spreadsheets to iPads, gaining the advantage of the “now” factor. Decisions made with the most up to date data. The data which is “now” is difficult to detect, I suppose we could run into the scenario where a meeting member could keep refeshing the data and eventually interrupt the meeting stating that the numbers have changed and require the revision of our decisions. An extreme example, but possible.
Which leads us to the next point of other meeting members challenging these numbers as they have different one’s, timestamps will become really important.
A simple solution to this problem is that all members would simply look at the same screen, may it be via projector or sharing updated results via WIFI between apps (great a new idea!). But lets go back to timestamps, as within the same application, we may encounter several queries going to the database at different times and taking also different time to finish executing and delivering results, especially for dashboard like applications which have different components in them pulling data independantly. Going with the simple approach of timestamps will take up space on screen and will probably not look good. We will need a solution for this, but for now it will do.
If we go one step further with timestamps, we let the user decide if they like to refresh. As a user, would you know when to refresh data? When do you know it changed. Maybe an indicator or a traffic light would help stating the frequency of updates to the database i.e. it is likely your data is out of date if it’s older than 15 minutes (colour orange) and it’s very likely that your data is out of date after 30 minutes (colour red). Automatic refresh should be optional.
Looking at an aspect of the stockmarket business, it is possible today to get streaming numbers for realtime data. Thanks to Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise clustering, powering 24 of the top 25 global banks and 46 of the top 50 top global banks and securities firms. And this is what I believe will be the direction we will be moving to ultimately: a window onto the realtime data showing in realtime, with all the blinking numbers and flashing charts!
Let’s learn from an existing industry and apply this to Explorer – make Explorer realtime aware, but in the simple ways which will be user intuitive.
All ideas and feedback are welcome