If something happens in your business, but there is no data to report its occurrence, does it affect your profitability? At any moment, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of events taking place in your operations. If you’re like most managers, you’ll see reports on those operations on a periodic basis, e.g. weekly, monthly or quarterly. What if you could see your business functioning in real time? What might you want to know about your business in real time? How would you implement such an idea?
What Does “Real Time” Mean, Anyway?
The phrase “real time,” like so many other terms in the tech field, is overused and sometimes not well understood. For engineers, real time literally means what’s happening right now, down to the millisecond. A Real Time Operating System (RTOS), for example, is certified to be exactly real time. They’re used for flight control avionics and other critical systems.
In general business, though, real time has a slightly looser meaning. Real time reporting reflects what’s going on in a business without any major delay. It reports on current operations, not what happened last week.
How Real Time Reporting Helps You Understand Your Business Better
Let’s assume that there are elements of your business that will benefit from real time awareness. Not every company has this. For instance, if your business involves taking shipments by truck once a month and putting the merchandise on shelves, you might not have much use for real time data. But, what if you ran a restaurant chain? A down-to-the-minute kind of business like that can benefit from real time awareness.
A restaurant chain’s profitability depends on factors like delivering great service and enjoying repeat business from regular customers. In this regard, having real time awareness of conditions in each restaurant branch can be quite helpful to management. Using a real time reporting dashboard, such as those available in ERP suites, the restaurant management company could monitor its locations for slow service and other issues that might negatively affect business.
How would they do this? In the example, the reporting tools could take data feeds from food ordering software and restaurant Point of Sale (POS) terminals. The tool could plot, visually, the average time that elapses between taking a customer’s order and ringing up the check at the end of the meal. By studying historical data, the reporting tool could indicate if food service is too slow across the restaurant chain.
A “drill down” feature could enable managers to see which locations were causing the problem. They could then notify location managers in real time that they were being too slow. They could suggest ways to alleviate the problem and get the restaurant back to delivering great service. There could be some revealing discoveries, like if a certain dish is consistently late.
This is just one, simple example of real time reporting and how it can positively affect a business. Your business will undoubtedly have its own, unique data points to monitor in real time. We have experience working with businesses on real time reporting. Though the concept is simple to understand, it can be challenging to implement. There’s a process to discovering which data is most relevant to a business in real time. If you would like to explore how real time reporting can benefit your business, let’s talk.