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Situational awareness is crucial in virtually every aspect of our lives. Imagine driving your car, crossing the street, slicing and dicing ingredients for dinner or doing almost anything else without collecting, processing and responding to substantial streams of data in real time. Cluelessness or absent mindedness (the opposite of having situational awareness) can lead to poor decisions, or worse, devastating tragedy.

This ability to recognize, capture and act upon data in real time is becoming an absolutely essential competency in many types of businesses as well.

Organizations-especially in financial services, telecommunications, e-commerce industries and in government defense, intelligence and revenue agencies-increasingly require more than conventional business intelligence applications can deliver. They need Continuous Intelligence capabilities that enable them to analyze vast torrents of event data in real time to generate immediate insight and enable instantaneous, often automated, responses to changing conditions.

"Real time," in these situations takes on an updated meaning. Minutes or hours are no longer sufficient. Even seconds may be too long. Rather, real-time intelligence and response increasingly means sub-second - milliseconds or less. Time pressure in many organizations has eliminated past and future tense from acceptable operational parameters. Now, there is only now.

You can see or imagine examples of this type of continuous intelligence in financial trading applications in which a millisecond delay in a trade can make the difference between a huge gain and a crushing loss. You can also see it in the financial services industry's enhanced focus on risk analysis and mitigation in the aftermath of the recent calamities on Wall Street. E-commerce companies, dealing with customers who make buy or move on decisions in mouse-click-time, study customer behavior and reaction to offers in real time to maximize the numbers and profitability of transactions. Telecommunications companies, facing fierce competition and quantum leaps in traffic, count on continuous intelligence to monitor and manage network traffic to ensure network capacity optimization and customer satisfaction. In the military and homeland security, where the price of failure to spot ominous trends or imminent threats is too grim to even contemplate, continuous intelligence is the minimum acceptable standard required to achieve success.


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