Though the concept of events has been around since the dawn of computing, new technologies are here that make it much easier to manage events as single instances or in complex combinations that have complexity humans could never follow.
Combine that with the enormous changes happening in the marketplace and in our personal lives and you have the formula for the next great leap forward. While that may sound like hyperbole, it really isn’t.
An overview of some of the recent changes in our world:
- Info sources and audiences expanded rapidly with a proliferation of smart devices to the developed and developing world
- Information became mobile, adding location, direction, speed and other factors
- Social put nearly everyone in the game and creates an enormous and increasing number of events
- Event actors are human and machine and anything and everything can send out information about itself
Growing spider web
- The Internet connects everything into an enormous ‘event backbone’ that spans the planet and the lion’s share of its 7 billion inhabitants
- System integrations create hierarchies of events. Hospitals pull together diagnostic device, operations and patient information. Logistics companies (UPS’ We Love Logistics campaign) combine source information like location and inventory with recipient information like address and delivery status. Systems that talk to each other create new hierarchies of events that present increasing value to business.
Moving past the database
- We moved beyond structured data (rows and columns) that were a vestige of paper and pencil accounting into unstructured data linked by concepts and not keys
- Computing became easier and cheaper with distributed storage and processing, making inexpensive, commodity hardware highly efficient
- Cloud computing made expansion and contraction of storage (of things like events) fast and inexpensive
- Data moved to grid, or in-memory storage that is 10,000 times faster than a database, allowing information to be distributed yet come together nearly instantly, regardless of volume and velocity
- Analytics arrived at the end user with remarkably easy interfaces and visualization of even the most complex situations. Analytics are made much more powerful and faster by the in-memory storage mentioned above
- Detection of meaningful patterns through rapid inspection of large amounts of information became possible. Often called Big Data, this is just one part of the events equation.
- Each progressive generation of processors continue to follow Moore’s Law of exponential change (even after fifty years). The continuation of this increase is tied to eliminating other bottlenecks in processing like data access (thus the case for in-memory again).
What was invisible and unknowable is now discoverable and actionable. What was in the hands of very few is now accessible to everyone. It is an amazing convergence of humanity and automation.
These changes are unprecedented in human history and the next 5 to 10 years will bring about more opportunity and disruption than we can currently see. To survive, a business needs to approach business events as the focal concept to build out infrastructure, process and skills. Doing so will enable not only an awareness of current conditions but also an ability to predict the future. These two factors are critical to increasing revenue, lowering cost and avoiding risk. They allow an organization to make a move before a competitor.
Some of the wisest companies are well down this path and well positioned to be dominant. Others will become the next Kodak, Xerox and Sears. What will truly surprise us will be the speed of this change.