Most organizations understand the profound impact that data is having on modern business. In Foundry\u2019s 2022 Data & Analytics Study, 88% of IT decision-makers agree that data collection and analysis have the potential to fundamentally change their business models over the next three years.\n\nThe ability to pivot quickly to address rapidly changing customer or market demands is driving the need for real-time data. But poor data quality, siloed data, entrenched processes, and cultural resistance often present roadblocks to using data to speed up decision making and innovation.\n\nWe asked the CIO Experts Network, a community of IT professionals, industry analysts, and other influencers, why real-time data is so important for today\u2019s business and how data helps organizations make better, faster decisions. Based on their responses, here are four recommendations for improving your ability to make data-driven decisions. \n\nUse real-time data for business agility, efficient operations, and more\n\nBusiness and IT leaders must keep pace with customer demands while dealing with ever-shifting market forces. Gathering and processing data quickly enables organizations to assess options and take action faster, leading to a variety of benefits, said Elitsa Krumova (@Eli_Krumova), a digital consultant, thought leader and technology influencer.\n\n\u201cThe enormous potential of real-time data not only gives businesses agility, increased productivity, optimized decision-making, and valuable insights, but also provides beneficial forecasts, customer insights, potential risks, and opportunities,\u201d said Krumova.\n\nOther experts agree that access to real-time data provides a variety of benefits, including competitive advantage, improved customer experiences, more efficient operations, and confidence amid uncertain market forces:\n\nBuild a foundation for continuous improvement\n\nThe experts offered several practical examples of how real-time data can help deliver continuous improvement in a variety of areas across the business, with the help of automation, which is a key capability for making data actionable.\n\n\u201cIn the process of digital transformation, businesses are moving from human-dependent to digital business processes,\u201d said Nikolay Ganyushkin (nikolaygan), CEO and Co-founder of Acure. \u201cThis means that all changes, all transitions, are instantaneous. The control of key parameters and business indicators should also be based on real-time data, otherwise such control will not keep up with the processes.\u201d\n\nReal-time data and automated processes present a powerful combination for improving cybersecurity and resiliency.\n\n\u201cWhen I was coming up in InfoSec, we could only do vulnerability scanning between midnight and 6 am. We never got good results because systems were either off, or there was just nothing going on at those hours,\u201d said George Gerchow (@georgegerchow), CSO and SVP of IT, Sumo Logic. \u201cToday, we do them at the height of business traffic and can clearly see trends of potential service outages or security incidents.\u201d\n\nWill Kelly (@willkelly), an analyst and writer focused on the cloud and DevOps, said that harnessing real-time data is critical \u201cin a world where delaying business and security decisions can prove even more costly than just a couple of years ago. Tapping into real-time data provides decision-makers with immediate access to actionable intelligence, whether a security alert on an attack in-progress or data on a supply chain issue as it happens.\u201d\n\nReal-time data facilitates timely, relevant, and insightful decisions down to the business unit level, said Gene De Libero (@GeneDeLibero), Chief Strategy Officer at GeekHive.com. Those decisions can have a direct impact on customers. \u201cCompanies can uncover and respond to changes in consumer behavior to promote faster and more efficient personalization and customization of customer experiences,\u201d he said.\n\nDeploy an end-to-end approach to storing, accessing, and analyzing data\n\nTo access data in real time \u2014 and ensure that it provides actionable insights for all stakeholders \u2014 organizations should invest in the foundational components that enable more efficient, scalable, and secure data collection, processing, and analysis. These components, including cloud-based databases, data lakes, and data warehouses, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI\/ML) tools, analytics, and internet of things capabilities, must be part of a holistic, end-to-end strategy across the enterprise:\n\nAs your data increases, expand your data-driven capabilities\n\nThe volume and types of data organizations collect will continue to increase. Forward-thinking leadership teams will continue to expand their ability to leverage that data in new and different ways to improve business outcomes.\n\n\u201cThe power of real-time data is amplified when your organization can enrich data with additional intelligence gathered from the organization,\u201d said Nichol. \u201cAdvanced analytics can enhance events with scoring models, expanded business rules, or even new data.\u201d\n\nNichol offered the example of combining a customer\u2019s call \u2014 using an interactive voice response system \u2014 with their prior account history to enrich the interaction. \u201cBy joining events, we can build intelligent experiences for our customers, all in real time,\u201d he said.\n\nIt\u2019s one of the many ways that new technologies are increasing the opportunities to use real-time data to fundamentally change how businesses operate, now and in the future.\n\n\u201cAs businesses become increasingly digitalized, the amount of data they have available is only going to increase,\u201d said Iyengar. \u201cWe can expect real-time data to have a more significant impact on decision-making processes within leading, forward-thinking organizations as we head deeper into our data-centric future.\u201d\n\nLearn more about ways to put your data to work on the most scalable, trusted, and secure cloud.