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Gartner: Real-time's time is nigh

If you want your business to keep up with demanding customers and stiff competition, you better get real –- as in real-time. Gartner analysts say the technology is on top-five investment lists for many CIOs this year. But here's a real-time reality check: few managers think they can make it work anytime soon.

SAN DIEGO – Do you really know what real-time is? Maybe it's really time to find out.

Gartner Inc. analysts announced last week that more than 20% of Global 2000 CIOs will put real-time enterprise technology near the top of their priority lists by the end of 2003.

The Stamford, Conn.-based firm, which wrapped up its Symposium/ITxpo last week, surveyed IT managers from more than 100 firms across the globe (using a trusty old piece of real-time technology –- the phone) to see how interested they were in real-time and to find out whether any of them had a good grasp on what it is.

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A Gartner analyst says there are advantages to speeding up business processes, but don't ignore the impact on the network. To become a real-time enterprise, a company may need to adopt new packet-shaping, prioritization and queuing methods. Just more stuff to worry about! Click here for that story.

Most of the IT managers on the other end of the line said that they're sure they'll be able to take advantage of the technology -- which should speed up the pace of management -- within the next five years. But right now, many of them can't really tell you what real-time means, and they're not too sure their systems will be able to digest it.

But if they're going to get with the real-time times, they'd better do it right, according to Gartner research director Mark Raskino. He said that real-time is rising in importance as businesses feel pressured to rush to meet the needs of demanding and fickle customers during these overcast economic times.

"A general intent to do everything a bit quicker will not only be a poor substitute, it will be damaging," he said. "Companies can't afford to waste precious IT resources on generalizations."

Raskino recommends that firms look at several technologies, like instant messaging, mobile, and real-time analytics to help trim time spent on the business processes. The trick is to look at a variety of technologies while staying focused on the ones that dovetail and will deliver on business initiatives.

By 2007, Gartner predicts, successful players in business will either have gotten to the top of their fields or buffed up their market muscle, thanks to their success with real-time technology.

Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp. are two of the major IT players jockeying for a spot in the real-time market. Microsoft's "Greenwich" technology is already in beta testing and will be released later this spring as part of the Windows Server 2003 platform. Third-party vendors, like Boston-based IMLogic Inc., have been shipping software that helps manage instant messaging within an enterprise.

A separate survey in February found that more and more CEOs and CFOs are leaning on the CIO for instant information on financial or operational matters, so that their firms can react more quickly to any change in the business climate. That's all the more reason CIOs are having real-time revelations.


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Definition of "real-time", according to

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