Digital transformations and mobility are impacting the operational tempos in enterprises today. The definition of operational tempo is the speed or pace of operations, i.e., the speed at which you can conduct business.

The advent of broadband Internet, mobile devices and mobile applications has dramatically changed our customer’s and our own expectations for what is an acceptable tempo of businesses.

None of us are willing to wait eight minutes for a response on a product availability query from our smartphone. None of us want our turn-by-turn navigation app on our smartphones to update only once every three minutes. We seek real-time operational tempos, or perhaps even faster than real-time.

Apps That Can (Almost) Read Your Mind

How can a mobile application be even faster than real-time? Apps can be developed to know what you need before you even ask. Mobile apps that are context aware can predict what you will need without you even asking for it.

Let's imagine a service technician driving to his/her next job site. The app (and connected back-office systems) review traffic flows, guides the service technician to the optimal route, checks the client records for all relevant SLAs (service level agreements), warranties, financial issues, equipment location, past maintenance and repair records and service notes, and provides them without being asked.  

As the service technician nears the customer site, a text is automatically sent to the customer announcing his/her imminent arrival. In addition, the mobile application has checked the service vehicle's inventory of parts and creates a list of available on-board parts that are likely needed for the job.

The Real-Time Data Environment

The scenario we have just considered is real and can be done today. More and more mobile apps are connected to artificial intelligence systems and business analytics systems that are using real-time and historical data to predict needs in advance. In order for artificial and context aware systems to work in real-time environments, they must be connected to real-time data.  

In addition, this data must be analyzed by a system fast enough to support the operational tempo required by the users. It is this challenge that Forrester's John McCarthy states will cause another Y2K event in many enterprises. In other words, it will force companies to replace systems that are incapable of supporting real-time processes that are required to support mobile users.

In 2014, all companies should be reviewing their back-office systems to identify and replace the systems that simply cannot function in a "real-time" environment where the operational tempo requires instant everything.

About the Author

FKevin Benedict is the opinionated Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant. He is a world traveler, speaker, writer, and mobile and digital strategies consultant. In the past three years, Kevin has taught mobile and digital transformation strategies workshops in 17 different countries. He has over 25 years of experience working with enterprise applications and 14 years in the mobile application market. He is also a veteran mobile software executive and authors one of the most popular blogs on mobile strategies.


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