real-time analytics

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: From data gathering to competitive strategy: The evolution of big data

Real-time analytics is the use of, or the capacity to use, data and related resources as soon as the data enters the system.  Real-time analytics is also known as dynamic analysis, real-time analysis, real-time data integration and real-time intelligence.

Technologies that support real-time analytics include:

  • Processing in memory (PIM) --  a chip architecture in which the processor is integrated into a memory chip to reduce latency. 
  • In-database analytics -- a technology that allows data processing to be conducted within the database by building analytic logic into the database itself. 
  • Data warehouse appliances -- combination hardware and software products designed specifically for analytical processing. An appliance allows the purchaser to deploy a high-performance data warehouse right out of the box. 
  • In-memory analytics -- an approach to querying data when it resides in random access memory (RAM), as opposed to querying data that is stored on physical disks.
  • Massively parallel programming (MPP) -- the coordinated processing of a program by multiple processors that work on different parts of the program, with each processor using its own operating system and memory.

Applications of real-time analytics
In CRM (customer relations management), real-time analytics can provide up-to-the-minute information about an enterprise's customers and present it so that better and quicker business decisions can be made -- perhaps even within the time span of a customer interaction. Real-time analytics can support instant refreshes to corporate dashboards to reflect business changes throughout the day. In a data warehouse context, real-time analytics supports unpredictable, ad hoc queries against large data sets. Another application is in scientific analysis such as the tracking of a hurricane's path, intensity, and wind field, with the intent of predicting these parameters hours or days in advance. 

The adjective real-time refers to a level of computer responsiveness that a user senses as immediate or nearly immediate, or that enables a computer to keep up with some external process (for example, to present visualizations of Web site activity as it constantly changes).

See also: real-time business intelligence, operational business intelligence, data mining, business analyticsad-hoc analysis

This was last updated in January 2011

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