There was a time when everybody talked about ‘real-time’. You couldn’t speak highly of something without stressing that it was almost or close or already ‘real-time’. Do you remember the 70s in the car industry? I do. And I remember the similarities as well. It was a time when no kid could help looking at the speedometer when passing a car. It wasn’t just my childhood, but also the childhood of car industry. A time of immaturity – when technology was praising itself. Going back to my starting point: Looking at the speedometer is a bit like talking about ‘real-time’. What comes off badly, is the user (the driver).
Because the mature driver doesn’t care about 280 miles per hour on the speedometer as long as he is travelling on streets with a speed limit of 80 or 100 miles. But he does care about security, travelling comfort, fuel consumption etc. He is like the business user, who doesn’t care about real-time. What he wants is ‘just-in-time’: that he gets the information he needs at the time he needs it. No more, no less.
That’s also your company’s challenge, when it comes to automating across different people, platforms, systems and applications. You don’t want to over or under provision your IT infrastructure as there is a related cost to doing this. What you want is to effectively deliver the right business information at the right time at the lowest possible cost. Why deliver at real-time, when there is no need and nobody cares?
Take Amazon or other online selling companies: A consumer ordering a product finds it more than acceptable to receive an email order confirmation a few minutes after having placed their order. The consumer will get no added value if the email arrives within 1 millisecond, but will certainly be disappointed if the email arrives 24 hours later. Hence online buying and selling is a classic example of using ‘Just-In-Time’ processing to satisfy consumer needs and keep automation costs to a minimum.
In fact, there is a parallel to the manufacturing industry with the familiar technique of ‘Just-in-time’ manufacturing that revolutionized this industry. Why shouldn’t the same approach be able to revolutionize a business’ automation strategy – receiving maximum value from automating its processes at the most effective cost point?