Real-time data. It’s a term that is often used in the world of customer service, but one that is rarely defined. When it comes to running a successful business of any size, keeping your customers happy is an obvious priority. In today’s tech-driven world, this can actually be achieved in ways we never before imagined: using real-time data.

By definition, real-time data (RTD) is information that is delivered immediately after collection. There is no delay in the timeliness of the information provided. In other words, you are seeing things happen as they happen. An example of this might include watching photos come in via a contest you shared on your website. Another example includes searching for a particular hash tag on the social media platform Twitter. Trending hash tags, especially, provide excellent real time data.
Many people feel that collecting real-time data is enough to keep their business afloat. This is only half true. According to an article in Forbes, “Success in real time means collecting, assessing and acting on real-time customer data. You can collect volumes and volumes of real-time data, but they won’t do you any good if you can’t act on it just as immediately. Conversely, you can be fully prepared to act on data, with decision management and other technology-based tools arrayed at your disposal, but they’re useless without the right data coming in.”
Let’s look at an example of real-time data in action. One of my favorite (and most widely known) examples is the Oreo Dunk in the Dark campaign. This campaign was the perfect example of not just collecting real-time data but using quick thinking to act upon that data in a meaningful way. The year was 2013. The power went out in the Superbowl showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Oreo jumped on the opportunity, and tweeted the now infamous line “You can Still Dunk in the Dark” during the thirty-four minute hiatus. The tweet was retweeted over 10,000 in a single hour. Some experts have even said that they payout of this (totally free) advertisement proved to be a better budgetary spend than money spent on an actual Superbowl commercial that year.
I understand that Oreo is a huge company and that they had a “panic room” gathered during the Superbowl, ready to jump on any opportunities that arose. I also realize that as a small or even medium business you may not have those sorts of resources at your disposal. That being said, you can still act upon real-time data in a meaningful way. You just have to remain aware and be prepared to seize opportunities. That’s what running a business is all about in today’s world.