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This article was first published on my Sybase blog on June 26, 2008. As part of Sybase’s integration with SAP, and the shutdown of the Sybase blog server, I am republishing the post on the SAP SCN, and taking the opportunity to update it.

In this post by Glenn Paulley (and reposted on the SCN by Jason Hinsperger), Glenn commented on one of my previous posts regarding distributed data management.   I think Glenn makes some fine points.    He observes that productivity improves if latency is reduced.   

The observation that I thought was excellent though is that when operation autonomy is coupled with reduced latency, THEN we would begin to see real productivity enhancements.

However, if operational autonomy enters the picture, then things are very different: autonomy coupled with the elimination or reduction in process latency offer significant advantages, to the point where they offer what’s occasionally known as a paradigm shift. So I think it’s not really whether or not data management is distributed that improves productivity, but rather that distributed data management is the enabler for reducing latency through the availability of data at any point in the process.

I wondered if anyone had ever done much research into a business strategy to provide operational autonomy while at the same time reducing the latency of information flowing throughout an organization.    In an admittedly non-exhaustive search, most of the research I found related to deep-space, or military type applications.    You can see it: military commanders need to make independent, time-critical decisions that are not dependant on connectivity with a central command.  Lives may be on the line, and tactical decisions need to be made.  Therefore, they must have access to the data they need locally.  The shorter the latency of operational data being synchronized with central command, the better the data used to make decisions.   Reduced latency is important to make good decisions, but the data MUST be located at the point of action, so that decisions can be made, regardless of the availability of connectivity.

The business parallels are obvious.   An organization should ensure that they empower their divisions and people to collect and organize the data that is important for their success, while providing them with the appropriate means to synchronize their data with other data within the organization.  This will truly improve productivity, and hence the success of the business.

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