Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

What's Next? Beyond Real-Time...

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 17, 2009

"Real-time" has become a huge buzzword in web developer communities this year and it's reflected in a spate of new conferences and product announcements.

Yesterday, I caught up with Tibco Software (a former long-time sponsor and currently an advertiser on SVW) because it has been in the business of providing real-time computing technologies for two decades.

Its real-time technologies have been powering Wall Street trading desks and huge financial systems for years, and are also being used by some of the world's largest corporations within a variety of industries.

While the web developer world has seemingly just woken up to the importance of real-time, Tibco is talking about a world beyond real-time computing.

But what's next after real-time? It's literally 'what is next?' It's the use of predictive analytics to anticipate business events and then to respond in real-time with a custom business process.

It means being able to pick one customer event out of tens of millions of daily events and respond immediately with a targeted business process.

For example: a bank customer using an ATM is offered custom loans; a casino that tracks customer losses and offers free tickets to a dinner show to cheer them up; a cell phone company that responds to multiple dropped calls with free minutes.

"Companies need to move beyond real-time and start using predictive, rules-based business processes. This is what I call Enterprise 3.0," says Vivek Ranadivé, CEO of Tibco.

In an Enterprise 3.0 world you cannot use an IT infrastructure that is centered on a database. It would be too slow for the software to track events and then have to go back and forth to the database in order to process and respond to business events. This is the type of IT world dominated by Oracle with its database software and applications.

In an Enterprise 3.0 environment, the software applications run in memory so that they are very fast and are able to work in real-time, applying business processes based on predictive analytics.

"People don't realize that companies such as Amazon are already event-driven. Vodaphone deals with more than 1 billion events a day," says Mr Ranadivé.

"If you have a little bit of knowledge about the future, if you know how your customers will behave, you then have the ability to improve services, and you have opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell."

He believes that this approach to business computing will happen because it is the best way companies can use IT as a competitive weapon.

Everyone has the same servers and IT equipment and ERP applications. Competitive distinction, and innovation, will be expressed through the predictive rules and business processes developed within companies.

Not for sale...

Tibco is in an unusual position in that there are very few software companies of its size that haven't already been acquired by a larger company.

Recently there were reports that the German software giant SAP might be interested in buying Tibco. And companies such as Oracle have been making lots of software acquisitions.

"We're not looking to be acquired by an Oracle," says Mr Ranadivé. "We believe we have the opportunity to become the next Oracle."

Once the current "real-time" fad runs its course in the web developer communities, predicting what's next is easy -- it's literally "predicting what comes next" -- predictive business computing technologies.

And as large enterprises increasingly deploy predictive IT systems, Tibco looks to be well positioned, in the right place at the right time, and should be able to profit handsomely from these trends.


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