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In Business, Everything Is An Event

Imagine a simple customer lifecycle:

  • The customer visits your website and browses some products;
  • They download some information about a product;
  • A few days later, they come back and place an order;
  • The order is packed and dispatched;
  • A few days later, the customer logs onto the site and leaves a negative review;

Each of these steps can be thought of as an event, and together they represent an event stream of things that happen over time.

To improve our business or customer experience, often we are looking to understand, react to, or enhance those events in some way. For instance, we may wish to personalise the web experience, alert on late product dispatches, or respond quickly to an uptick in negative reviews.

When we respond to business events promptly and intelligently, there is huge potential to improve the customer experience, identify opportunities for revenue growth, and make real improvements in business efficiency.

A Second Example

To contrast, lets consider a second event stream relating to credit card transactions and fraud detection:

  • The customer orders a low value product in the UK;
  • The next day, the customer orders a low value product in Paris;
  • 3 hours later, the customer orders a high value product in the UK;
  • 3 months later, the customer orders a high value product in China;

Choosing whether to accept or decline the final transaction is an interesting question. The customer usually places low value orders, but has ordered high value items in the past. The fact they are ordering from China is an anomaly, but they do have international transactions too. The time information gives us some interesting information, with the 3 month delay, the value and the location combined perhaps inclining us to reject the transaction.

This is another example of event stream processing, though with higher requirements for latency and possibly more impact on the business if we accept too many fraudulent transactions.

Event Streams

These event streams are everywhere in business, and they have massive amounts of value if we can extract value from them by understanding them and reacting to them.

Unfortunately, most businesses simply do not have this intelligent, real time event stream processing capability today. Instead, they are using traditional business intelligence where data is batch uploaded and then used by humans for strategic decision making.

Event Processing is about moving beyond this, using modern approaches to understand what is happening “right now” across the business, and respond to situations immediately, intelligently and automatically in order to improve business performance.

At Timeflow, we are focussing on helping companies with this journey, moving from traditional batch data processing towards more intelligent, real time approaches based on streaming technologies.

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