PYMNTS MonitorEdge May 2024

Making Sense of How Firms Are Leveraging Real-Time Data

real-time data

An uncertain operating environment calls for controlling what is controllable. And with Mastercard’s reshuffling of its executive team on Tuesday (April 9) to add a data team, real-time visibility into operations — and transactions — is top of mind for businesses.

After all, data is the new oil. But with recent advances in computing power and mathematical modeling, combined with the ongoing artificial intelligence (AI) revolution, access to real-time data is increasingly helping businesses make better, faster decisions.

That’s because, against the backdrop of today’s ever-shifting landscape, businesses are finding that traditional operating models are no longer sufficient to maintain competitive advantage. The key to unlocking future success lies in embracing agile decision-making and leveraging the ability to adapt and innovate based on right-now information. Embedding real-time data analytics into every decision, interaction and process plays a pivotal role in this transformation.

This is all occurring as data literacy among businesses and their employees is on the rise, creating a perfect storm of opportunity for organizations to optimize nearly every aspect of their operations.

Still, capturing the benefits of real-time data and surfacing their insights requires systems and tools to produce, consolidate and structure them; as well as the appropriate systems and tools to leverage them.

At the end of the day, having all the data in the world doesn’t mean much without the ability to use it.

Read moreB2B Businesses Tap Embedded Analytics to Unlock Legacy Data Silos

Data Is the Core of Process and System Modernization

Analytics and insights drawn from real-time data can help show an objective view of what’s happening inside a business, and the intelligence that firms can capture is crucial to getting the capabilities in place that allow them stay ahead of the curve. That data is also fundamental to creating a common language around KPIs and business metrics.

“What businesses want is certainty, understanding what the future might look like,” Alek Koenig, CEO and founder of Settle, told PYMNTS in an interview posted on Thursday (April 11). “Anything that can help business understand what, say, 13 weeks later, things might look like or what inventory might be available is very helpful from a planning perspective. For businesses that deal with inventory, and specifically procuring inventory, there’s a big time gap from making decisions to turning that into revenue.”

That’s why investing in robust data governance frameworks, advanced analytics capabilities and secure data management systems is crucial for organizations to thrive in the digital age. PYMNTS Intelligence found that organizations relying exclusively on legacy processes and tools may find themselves vulnerable to modern attacks. 

“The data that exists within companies is at the heart of everything that drives better decision-making. Historically, and very commonly, companies do not have a data strategy or data governance models to harness that data and to be able to layer on the tech that’s available to drive better decision-making,” Emburse CFO Adriana Carpenter said in a 2022 interview with PYMNTS. 

Echoing that sentiment, Taylor Lowe, CEO and co-founder at Metal, explained to PYMNTS: “If you think about a typical organization, one that’s been in business for 10-plus years, and consider all the data that they have amassed, particularly unstructured data — until recently, this data was generally produced and then shelved.”

Read more: The Power of Precision: Driving Revenue From B2B Customer Data

Embracing Clear Visibility

Real-time data fuels data analytics and machine learning algorithms, enabling businesses to gain valuable insights into market trends, customer behavior and operational performance. These insights can inform strategic decisions, drive innovation and uncover new opportunities for growth by allowing companies to capitalize on emerging opportunities or mitigate in-the-moment risks.

“Technology helps us to be proactive in our approach rather than reactive or a lagging indicator of what’s happening. And with leading indicators, it allows us as a business to pivot, or course correct, or double down when necessary,” Amy Wang, CFO at Procurify, told PYMNTS. 

As just one example, and as reported by PYMNTS, this Monday (April 8), and as announced Wednesday (April 10)The Clearing House’s CHIPS (Clearing House Interbank Payment System) network migrated to the ISO 20022 messaging format — joining a network built atop a common payment processing language that provides participants with real-time information to transaction data.

The benefits of real-time transaction data within payments are difficult to overstate. 

In a conversation with Richard Dzina, senior vice president at The Clearing House, Dzina offered up the analogy of the sea change that came to global commerce with the advent of the shipping container in the middle of the 20th century. Those containers enabled intermodal transport to take place across waterways, rails and roads, increasing efficiency as those containers could be stacked in all kinds of configurations. The rise of computers in the ’60s and ’70s led to improved traceability and tracking of those containers, accelerating the science of inventory management. 

The same principles can be applied to data, its transmission and tracking — and those principles will transform the world of payments, he said.