With all of the new technology available at our fingertips, it can sometimes feel like a deluge. Before I sit down at my desk most mornings, I’ve checked the news on Twitter, seen pictures of my nephew on Facebook, answered a few urgent emails and even gotten the final score from last night’s late-running Phillies’ game, all on my smartphone.
Today’s data managers are searching for better ways not only to contain the massive flow of big data through their servers every day, but also to help their corporations use that data in useful and instinctual ways. The best way to do that, however, can mean very different things to different people.
A recent survey by IDG Research Services shows some of the many challenges that today’s IT professional may have in containing that data flow. While almost all managers are looking to contain costs in their data-management systems, their other needs are often quite varied. Right below cost containment lie two challenges which seem neck and neck: better real-time data management and better access and support for remote workers.
Channeling the Flow of Real-Time Data
Real-time data management has become a complex task for companies, just as my own social media habits have made my screen time more consuming. I’m not the only one that’s connected to the Internet all the time and – like me – customers and corporate officers alike have become accustomed to having the latest data at their fingertips. This means processing massive amounts of information from multiple platforms – information pouring in from desktop computers, mobile phones, tablets and the cloud.
It also means finding a platform that can sort through this information quickly for relevant data in seconds or fractions of seconds. No one wants to miss out an opportunity to woo a potential customer with a virtual coupon only to discover that she’s hungry for a burger and a beer at the PYT bar in Northern Liberties, not shopping for a new blouse at your boutique in East Passyunk Square.
Buoying Remote Workers, Whatever Their Access Points
While supporting a remote workforce may seem like a different demand entirely, at second glance, it’s also a demand that calls for many of the same skills in the scenario above. Remote workers sign on to various platforms across time zones and with numerous devices. Their workflow varies and their information needs can turn on a dime, from a quick glance at a company newsletter to a call for huge data analysis for their quarterly reports.
What both situations have in common is immediacy. Systems need to process reams of information quickly, in the most flexible ways possible. This sounds, to some, like an impossible task, especially given the overall need to contain costs above all. But customer service – and customer satisfaction – can depend on it.
Integrating a Rush of Information
So what’s an overwhelmed IT professional to do? I can limit my screen time when I’m feeling overloaded, muting Twitter streams or shutting down the laptop. They’re not as lucky. But one solution that may make things more manageable is as an integrated software platform. Dismissing the need for expensive – albeit effective – new hardware, or custom-built systems that suck up time and money, integrated software platforms turn the sheer size of that data cloud into an online advantage. By using open standards on software that can be delivered as a dedicated bundle or remotely through the cloud, IT managers have the ability to react quickly, to adapt in almost real time and to offer up-to-the-minute data solutions to customers and workers alike. Changes can happen on the fly and, even at times of peak traffic, information can be captured and re-purposed as it ebbs and flows.
Most importantly, it can all happen behind the scenes, seamlessly, allowing a company to rise above the noise of the social media world and deliver an eye-catching pitch to a potential customer.
With integrated software, a company’s data can allow them not only to identify that hungry girl in Northern Liberties the first time, but can also help them tweak a pitch that will make her consider a crosstown drive for those cute shoes at your boutique, framed in that Gmail ad she’s glimpsing while answering an email from her own client over her juicy burger. And there’s nothing virtual about that reality.