What is Real-Time Decision-Making?

July 16, 2019


3 minutes

Success hinges on making well-informed decisions in real-time.

Organizations need to be able to make good decisions — as quickly as possible. You can’t get all the way there with additional staff or longer hours. It takes smart investment in powerful technology to turn good data into good decisions.


So What is Real-Time Decision-Making?

The Handbook of Research in Mobile Business defines real-time decision making as the “provision of information in context and integrated with work-flow in real time.” In other words, it describes the ability of organizations to make operational choices based on the most current data or information. Operational and strategic teams of all stripes need to be able to make confident decisions about ongoing situations. And yet, all too often, that decision-making process lags behind the actual pace of events. When that happens, teams make decisions around stale and often inaccurate information.

However, real-time insights rely on the most current information possible, delivered with near-zero latency. That means teams aren’t utilizing historical pools of data or even data from twenty minutes ago. If a data point has changed, that change should be instantly available to the people who need to know. For significant changes, that data shift should be immediately visible and top-of-mind. When your team knows that they are working with the most complete and recent data, you can eliminate much of the guesswork in your decision-making process. That can mean more accurate and effective teamwork, performed at a speed suited to each unique operational domain.


Real-time decision making


Why Real-Time Decision-Making Matters

Real-time decision-making is a capability that many teams need to improve their workflow and ultimately achieve their objectives. Of course, working with the most recent and accurate data is a good idea for any organization. But for many teams, the difference between real-time data and near real-time data can be the difference between success and failure, whether that means profit and loss or life and death.

For the transportation and logistics industry, the margin between profit and loss can be incredibly slim. Decisions are sometimes made with an inaccurate understanding of changing factors, like gas prices or weather. Moreover, undetected changes in cargo integrity, pricing, or delivery objectives could end up undermining a fleet manager’s initial strategy. Only real-time data can help drivers, fleet managers, and stakeholders throughout the supply chain respond to fluctuating real-world pressures.

A number of high-stakes operations have lives on the line. Military operations, first responders, event security teams, and even ski resort operators all have to respond with urgency to sudden, often dangerous conditions. If response lags by minutes or even seconds, it can be too late to save those who need rescue. Only truly real-time decision-making is appropriate for these high-pressure scenarios.


How to Achieve Real-Time Decision-Making

Real-time decision-making doesn’t happen by chance. Many factors must be working in coordination in order to enable this capability:

  • Integrate with data sources: Within this data-rich era, it’s easier than ever to generate and source the data you need. That means making sure you’re set up to gather data from all relevant sources continuously. Many of today’s technologies can provide real-time insights into environmental factors that go way beyond what was possible just five or ten years ago.

  • Choose the right data: Real-time data is foundational for better operational workflow, but to avoid drowning in data, organizations should be sure that they are surfacing just the information that is most important for the here and now. To that end, certain data shifts could generate immediate alerts that become a top-of-list priority for the team. Meanwhile, less urgent data changes could still register behind the scenes, to be accessed as needed.

  • Establish a common operational picture: Real-time visibility isn’t helpful if only one team member can see the full picture. Being able to share the data display across all relevant personnel enables the team to make decisions together, much more quickly, without wasting time on extraneous communication channels.

    What is Real-Time Decision Making?


    Actionable Data for Real-Time Action

    Organizations can’t use a manual process to gather ongoing data streams and register real-time changes. By investing in technological solutions, teams can augment human capabilities well beyond what would otherwise be possible. In order to make real-time decision-making a core organizational capability, it’s time for organizations of all kinds to invest in a platform designed to make their data actionable. That means utilizing a technology designed precisely for real-time operational success. Throughout industries, it’s the companies already investing in this capability that maintain an edge on the competition. When the right data is delivered at the right time — to the people that need it — the results can be transformative.


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