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Big Data Is Good, But Fast Big Data Is Much Better

While the press and many companies continue to marvel at the sheer volume of data being generated and captured in the internet era, forward-leaning corporations have already recognized that big data's transformative potential to generate value in both the digital and physical realms will go largely unrealized unless it's complemented by speed. Fast data can unlock the value-creating power of big (and small) data.

Put another way, with fast data, companies can engage in—and win—time-based competition. Time-based competition, of course, is nothing new. As The Boston Consulting Group has emphasized since the late 1980s, the classic formula for business success—Sell a product or service that delivers the most value at the lowest price—has been amended to read, Sell a product or service that delivers the most value at the lowest price, in the least amount of time. Japanese manufacturers, among the first to recognize the need for speed in business, raised just-in-time manufacturing to a high art, using tightly synchronized processes to propel Japan into a period of commercial dominance in automobiles, electronics, and other manufacturing.

One reason that speed creates a competitive advantage is that, as George Stalk and Thomas M. Hout wrote in their 1990 book, Competing Against Time, “Time-based competitors create more information and share it more spontaneously... The cycles of creating information, then acting and acting again, are the heart of business, and time-based companies push hard so that everything they do...will be geared toward collapsing these cycles... [T]he competitor who acts on information faster is in the best position to win.”

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Keywords: supply chain management, supply chain IT, supply chain solutions, business intelligence

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