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Becoming a real-time enterprise

What is a real-time enterprise?

Not only must businesses be good at what they do, but they must also be able to do it quickly.  Today companies in all industries are being required to move faster to meet rapidly changing expectations in what people want, where and how quickly they want it, whilst ensuring they deliver on all aspects of their brand promise. 

In meeting these expectations, time is the critical component, both in being able to respond rapidly to customer needs whilst at the same time reducing costs and driving efficiency.

As a result, we are seeing the emergence of the Real-Time Enterprise’s (RTE) who are continually reinventing the way they work to run rings around their competitors. This includes relatively new entrants such as Amazon, Uber and Netflix, plus more established companies such as Disney, GE and Caterpillar.

The RTE is not a new concept, what is different now is that the technology to capture, distribute and act on data in real-time is now mainstream. The organisations that are able to take advantage of this technology to transform how work gets done will have the business advantage.

Becoming a real-time enterprise is not just about automating or digitising existing business processes. Rather it requires a change in the overall operating model to take advantage of digital technology, allowing organisations to move from a supply-push model driven by predictions to a demand-pull model that is able to respond in real-time to current needs.

Whilst the transformation to a real-time enterprise will be enabled by technology, it will require new business models, which, in turn, will require structural changes in organizations and their cultures.


Whether an organisation is or is not an RTE, is not black or white. Rather most companies exist somewhere on a spectrum between the two ends. The challenge for businesses is to move towards the RTE end of the spectrum and do that at a pace that enables them to remain competitive at all stages of the journey.

So what makes a real-time enterprise? Key attributes of a real-time enterprise include:

  • Automation of the primary activities of the business
  • A significant reduction in friction across business interactions
  • Providing self-service that simplifies while cutting cost
  • The ability to sense and respond to demand and other key events
  • Delivering products as a service

Underpinning all of these capabilities is enabling the rapid flow of information inside organisations and across corporate boundaries. More specifically, it's about ensuring that regardless of where or how the data originated, that we can get the right data to the right place at the right time to enable the right decision and/or action to be performed.

Whilst that definition might sound deceptively simple, the reality is that effective real-time data movement is not simple and relies on organisations establishing a modern distributed digital backbone that can rapidly adapt to meet an organisation's real-time needs.

Thus, organisations face two distinct challenges on their real-time journey. 

  • First, business leaders need to consider which aspects of their business would benefit most from real-time, this includes understanding what business you are or want to be in and where real-time processes would contribute most to success. 
  • Second, businesses need to put in place a modern digital backbone that enables organisations to distribute, process and act upon events and data in real-time.

Unsurprisingly, organisations need to achieve this, whilst fundamentally increasing their speed of IT execution. Since businesses that move faster will innovate more, which over time will deliver a significant competitive advantage. 

The key to achieving this is an operating model that enables businesses to continually deliver in small frequent steps. This not only allows a business to deliver value sooner, whilst incrementally building out the digital backbone but also allows the business to continually incorporate learnings, feedback as well as changing priorities so they can continually experiment and thus innovate in the areas that add the most value, faster.

In this initial blog, I have touched on multiple considerations as to why and how organisations need to make the transition to real-time.  In subsequent posts, I'll explore each of these areas in more detail.

If you'd like to learn more about Rubicon Red's digital operating model that enables organisations to deliver rapid outcomes and respond to evolving requirements in a low-risk, cost-effective way through agile product-centric delivery, cloud-native and DevOps principles, download our Whitepaper.