The Unattainable Real-Time Enterprise
The Real-Time Enterprise is a goal that we continually move closer to without ever achieving. In every generation, new technology comes forward and spawns innovative ways of doing business. Common threads are the expanding domain of automation and increased outsourcing. As companies become more efficient and more focused on creating value, the gap between what we can imagine our businesses can do and what they can actually do becomes smaller.
Of course, our imaginations are more powerful than our ability to execute. There will always be a gap. The full blown real-time enterprise will stay just out of our reach. But it is important to note that today, because of the massive proliferation of technology the nature of the gap has changed. In the past, issues of cost and latency constrained the approximation of the real-time goal. We could not afford a real-time enterprise, nor could we move fast enough to achieve it. We did not have ready made technology available to solve the next set of problems in the way. When companies did solve the problems, they did so buy building the needed technology. Today, technological constraints are less of a problem. We are awash in computing power in every corner of the corporation. Technologies such as wireless and broadband connect a mature suite of tools and enterprise applications. We have huge computing platforms and massive storage capabilities. It is more technology than we can really absorb. Now, the barrier to the real-time enterprise is understanding how to put all of this power use to its fullest capabilities. We need to make each of the modules more articulate and more vertical; that is, more tailored to problems in a particular industry. The architecture works end-to-end, but how much of that architecture is actually assisting our processes all along? How far can we actually get the right architecture out of our imaginations and into reality? So the Real-Time Enterprise is about getting real taking thoughts and visions, and making them real. It is about realizing the capabilities we already possess in current technology. In theory, the Real-Time Enterprise already exists, but in practice we are not there yet. Getting closer to the vision, closing the gap, this is the challenge going forward.