Where the Neon Lights Are Bright

Bringing real time to center stage involves more than faster processes and more software. Business and IT have to be completely in sync.

David StodderIn theater, if you can make it on Broadway, you can make it anywhere. And on television, "prime time" is when the most viewers are watching what the networks consider their best stuff. The stakes are high and the hype is hot.

IT's center stage is "real time." Nothing gets business executives' attention more than when IT is successfully applied to wring out costs and improve time-based competition. Scientists and engineers often bristle at the use of this expression because IT applications generally don't meet their exacting standards for real-time systems. That's because most IT systems have their sights set on different requirements. Many BI and data warehousing professionals, for example, prefer "right time," which means that, just like J. R. R. Tolkien's wizard Gandalf, the desired data and information arrive precisely when the system means for them to arrive.

As more strategic business objectives come to depend on IT execution, real time defines the moment when everything falls into place: when multiple business processes blend seamlessly into end-to-end processes, when data from many sources produces a single version of the truth and when the behind-the-scenes jumble of legacy systems disappears behind a modern user interface. As Peter Fingar notes in our cover story, real time isn't about one system or vertical business function; it's about how the whole enterprise swings into action to prevail in a fundamental form of competition.

No matter what vendors claim, faster processors and more software won't by themselves deliver the real-time edge. And while automation is key, more important is that processes become expressions of business objectives, triggering activity throughout the enterprise to best meet those objectives. Artificial boundaries between applications and data sources must be questioned if they stand in the way of end-to-end processes that can deliver greater customer satisfaction. When it's show time, business and IT have to be in sync or customers will look elsewhere.

The IT industry's marketing-driven technology boundaries can be obstacles to business competitiveness. This insight is a motivating theme of our conference, the Intelligent Enterprise Summit. We've just finalized the program for this event, to be held October 5 and 6 at the Dolce Norwalk Center for Leadership and Innovation in Norwalk, Conn. Come and learn how organizations can apply text mining, information integration, business process management (BPM) and other technology-based approaches to leverage far more of their information sources and align disparate functions to achieve strategic objectives.

Our expert speakers and topics will help attendees see the interrelationship between performance management and BPM. Sessions will cover the convergence of structured data and unstructured content and explore new visualization techniques that let users analyze the best way to act upon integrated information.

Intelligent Enterprise contributing editors Mark Smith and Seth Grimes will join the subject experts on our program. Editors Doug Henschen, Jeanette Burriesci and I will host debates and panels that will cut through the fluff and help attendees choose technology and IT architectures that fit business requirements, rather than IT industry marketing categories. To learn more about the program and get details on how to attend, please visit

We hope you can make our prime-time special! Dynamic goals for smarter customer service and sharper visibility into the full range of data sources and business processes are rendering traditional technology categories obsolete. The time is ripe for a fresh perspective.

David Stodder is the editorial director and editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise. Write to him at [email protected].