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Value is a relative thing. Some things have an intrinsic value that stays relatively constant, such as how much you receive for showing up to work each week, or the price you pay for a movie ticket (okay, so that, like most things, continues to go up -- but at least in a linear fashion -- so far). Other things, such as the price of an airline seat or a share of stock depend much more on timing, coupled with market demand and the distribution or delivery process.

In reality, most organizations are driven by processes and data that stay relatively constant -- customer information, average sales, and other financial or corporate information. Yet, theres often a slice of data (and set of processes) within almost every company that includes time-sensitive, or event-driven data. Information that can make a distinct difference if obtained quickly, and information that becomes increasingly worthless as time goes on.

The value of event-driven (or real-time) data decreases over time, while the value of aggregated data increases over time. This, of course, makes sense. Data warehouses are valuable to organizations precisely because they collect old data and make it available and searchable in a cumulative fashion. Event driven-data is important precisely because its driven by events -- changes in inventory, the most recent sale price, etc.

Some organizations have been using event-driven information to guide and affect key business processes for decades. Airline ticket sales are a well-known application of dynamic pricing models that rely on event-driven information to optimize the value of a fixed product based on a wide range of factors. A key component of that price calculation is the amount of inventory available at a given time -- the fewer seats that remain, the more likely it is you can charge more for them.

In order to achieve the highest value per seat, the carrier needs to know whenever seats are sold, regardless of whether the airline sells them or a partner. Thus, the ability to generate, receive, and consume real-time or event-driven data is key to optimizing the value of the products that the airline is selling.

But event-driven data isnt just useful for airlines. Over time, being able to easily and efficiently generate, receive, and consume real-time data within your company and from business partners or customers is going to be a critical component of almost all IT and business plans. In fact, weve already seen it start to happen on a broader scale over the past five years, with the increasing prevalence and importance of wireless news feeds and automated events and e-mails, being sent directly to cell phones or PDAs. But thats simply the tip of the iceberg.


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