Learning to act in real time

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Published: November 17, 2014 2:35:31 AM

In this information intensive, hyper-connected, data-driven world—where right time business insight can separate the movers from the losers—speed thrills.

The question of how technology influences our lives or businesses has always been an important topic of discussion and debate in the tech
industry. No wonder, every now and then IT executives and specialists come up with attention-grabbing buzzwords to define their innovations.

Internet of Things, virtual desktops, cloud computing, crowd-sourcing, Big Data, social network and digital wallets are just a few among the not-so-scary terms that have come mainstream and are widely debated in the present-day workplaces. The latest one, although it sounds heavily mathematical in nature, gaining traction in the tech community is the 90:90:90 model —promoted by the Silicon Valley-based enterprise software maker, Tibco Software, founded by a tech entrepreneur of Indian origin—where it takes someone 90 seconds to identify the product or service they require, 90 minutes to install it and prove it is worth using, and 90 days to make it a strategic choice. After all, we live in a connected and always “on” world, where businesses are always looking for a faster time to value.

“A little bit of the right information just a little beforehand—whether it is a couple of seconds, minutes, or hours—is more valuable than all of the information in the world six months after the fact,” says Vivek Ranadive, chairman, founder & CEO of Tibco Software. The Palo Alto, California-based company develops software that companies use in processes such as inventory keeping and cross-selling products. “We call this as the two-second advantage,” says Vivek, who has led the advancement and use of real-time technology in business operations and decision-making, earning him the nickname “Mr Real Time” in technology circles. He is dedicated to the vision that if you get the right information to the right place at the right time and in the right context, you can make the world a better place.

Before we dig deep into how Tibco technology is giving businesses the agility needed to seize new opportunities and create more efficient organisations, a few words on the man behind Tibco Software, a hot commodity in tech circles these days and the latest software company to go private. A native of Mumbai, Vivek watched a documentary on MIT and was inspired at the age of 16 to leave India for Cambridge, Massachusetts, arriving with only $50 in his pocket. After earning both a Master’s and Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he obtained an MBA at Harvard, where he was a Baker Scholar.

In 1986, Vivek founded Teknekron Software Systems, which focused on creating the stock trading floor of the future. Teknekron went on to automate Wall Street and that technology became the engine for most of the world’s capital markets. In 1997, he founded his present company, Tibco Software, with the mission of bringing real-time computing into the mainstream. Today, his venture helps more than 4,000 customers thrive by powering everything from the web to airlines, financial services, utilities, communications providers, manufacturers and governments. As a leading player in infrastructure and business intelligence software, Tibco helps its customers combine fast data with real-time information to provide immediate awareness and enable instant action. It has a multitude of customers across the region such as Citibank, FedEx, Vodafone, Reliance and Tata Sky in India.

Putting IT to work
In this information intensive, hyper-connected, data-driven world, businesses are increasingly being challenged to extract information, analyse insight and make decisions based on huge volumes of data as events occur in order to remain competitive. Without the core capabilities of integration, analytics and event processing, customers are left to cobble solutions together. Fast data is now Tibco’s clear mantra for the future. “Our Fast Data platform integrates the necessary solutions to empower customers to combine Big Data with information captured in the moment from their own applications, web, cloud and mobile channels, as well as data coming from the Internet of Things, enabling insights that can be immediately extracted and decisions applied as situation unfold,” says Matt Quinn, chief technology officer, Tibco.

Take for instance, Tata Sky, India’s leading direct-to-home TV and service provider that is striving to become the first operator globally to fully understand the underlying factors behind revenue assurance. “Viability of the business is paramount,” says N Ravishanker, CIO, Tata Sky. His company has deployed Tibco Spotfire analytics software to build sophisticated predictive analytics looking at customer churn, customer life-time value and all customer behaviour patterns in order to feed new and innovative rules in Tibco Business Events that help boost cross sell and up-sell, as well as protect revenues from the actions of competitors.

Another beneficiary is Marks & Spencer (M&S), a retail business with 800 stores in the UK alone, 34 million customers and 2,000 suppliers trading in over 50 global territories. M&S required a higher level of analytical capability within the business to make its inventory replenishment faster and more efficient. The analytical power Tibco’s Spotfire gives the foods business is allowing it to scientifically understand how to continue to drive improved availability, while controlling waste. In terms of the forecasting process for clothing ranges, the solution is helping retarget and re-evaluate the future demand figures—a process which was previously manual, taking eight weeks, but is now complete within two weeks.

Pete Williams, head of enterprise analytics, Marks & Spencer, says that this firm now enjoys a demand forecast and replenishment system that can handle data volumes beyond Excel limits, much improved statistical modeling capabilities, visualisation to help drive quick decisions and compelling interactive automated dashboards. M&A has also created a lens on food (and soon to be clothing) supplier performance, seeing an internal view on performance across all suppliers and can drill down into a particular supplier’s operational and
financial performance.

India beckons
India is changing quickly, says Vivek, with technology at the centre of the change. “I had the good fortune to have dinner with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was in New York in September. Frankly, I was very impressed with the new Prime Minister—he is a man with a vision and values, he is action-oriented and can simplify the message down to the common man. Given the huge divide between rural and urban India and the digital haves and have-nots, I believe that the Prime Minister’s Digital India programme is a master stroke in using technology as the great leveller for the citizens of India,” he says.

The Digital India programme envisages providing digital infrastructure as a utility to every individual, delivering governance and services on demand and enabling the digital empowerment of citizens. According to Vivek, the Prime Minister’s smart cities initiative has garnered maximum attention from the technology sector as this project will rely heavily on ICT. “We believe there is a huge opportunity for the tech industry to partner with the government in the Digital India programme.”

Likewise, India is going to be a huge opportunity for Tibco Software. “Our Fast Data platform is very applicable in terms of putting all the processes and platforms that makes a country efficient, reduces waste and increases responsiveness. I know there is a lot of excitement sweeping India in terms of the future,” he summarises.

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