Deep Dive on Analytical Styles: The Real-Time Style

By Gregory Lampshire

I was walking down the main street in my town the other day and I was struck by how many signs there were. Signs advertising places of business, places to eat, drink, have fun, buy things, get broken things fixed… the signs were endless. Many were advertising the week’s specials: buy now and save 20%. Each Sunday, I receive a stack of advertisements for the week. I also receive daily emails from merchants with that day’s special deal or a special thought about how to do something. On occasion, I receive a text message with an advertisement. When I go to work, I like to look at my operational reports—the status of my client projects, whether they are falling behind or are ahead of schedule.

All of these scenarios speak to the Real-Time Style. What real-time means is dependent on the business process and the receiver (in the examples above—me). Real-time sounds cool, it sounds hip. I’m real-time, you’re real-time.

In some cases, Real-Time Style means I get a text message as I am walking down the street. Sometimes it is a weekly flyer on Sunday since I do a lot of my buying on Sunday. Sometimes real-time means that as I am talking to a customer service rep, predictions are being made about how valuable a customer I am using information recorded on the call–then deciding how to tier me so I get the right level of service–not too much that I become unprofitable and not too little that I churn or attrite.
Real-Time Style is very contextual: Where I am or what I am doing when I make a decision makes a difference. This is important.

If the Real-Time Style has one critical element to be successful, it is that real-time analytics must have a context in which to make decision. If you need to build the infrastructure to have real-time analytics, and it is not always cheap or easy, then the target of the analytics, whether an executive, a manager or a customer, has to be in a state where a decision can be made. Imagine the entire company, completely organized behind influencing the decision of a single customer or person at an instant of time. If you use this customer-centric view, you will instantly realize the incredible amount of organization and collaboration to do this successfully.

This idea of the “context” actually gives us the definition of Real-Time Style: analytics designed to influence a decision within a specific context at the point of decision making.

Breaking down what a person does into smaller steps is key. Knowing how decisions are made and where they are made is paramount. What is your customer lifecycle? What does a customer service event look like? You have to take that person’s view, then align your analytical capabilities to support it. If you want to target a person and influence them, those capabilities are the “wood behind the arrow.”

Coming next: the third and final analytical style, the Future Style.

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