Weighing Cost vs. Benefit of Near Time vs. Real Time Data Integration


When the pace of business accelerates from a few orders a week to a few a day, or even an hour, having accurate data becomes increasingly critical.  While automation is the typical route – upgrading your ERP for example – how much speed is really necessary?  You probably wouldn’t buy a new Hummer to make local deliveries, and you might not need expensive real-time communications either.

At Appterra, we look at how a customer’s business communicates with both sides of its supply chain.  While our goal is to help customers seamlessly exchange information with both suppliers and end users, we also realize that sometimes “real time” isn’t worth the cost and complicated implementations.

Oftentimes for small and mid-size businesses, Appterra recommends using FTP or File Transfer Protocol to transfer data from one host to another over the internet or other network.  For example, sharing files between a supplier and your distribution manager, or a customers placing an order and your account receivable employees.  For FTP set up with a 3-minute rhythm, these connections are close enough to real time that most users don’t see a difference.  Even better, FTP is  low cost, easy to install, easy to support, and easy to maintain.  Additionally, through the use of data encryption and the use of system logins, the data can be very secure.

Obviously, this system has its limits:  if you are selling rare materials, or working with very low inventory levels, real-time data might be critical. But, then the time and expense of setting up a real time system would be justified.  Anything less than that, though, and FTP should at least be a consideration when planning communication systems.

Not sure whether real time data is right for you?  Let Appterra help you determine the best way to seamlessly communicate with your trading partners.  Contact us to learn how you can make your business communication network better.

Charlie Alsmiller

Throughout his career, Charlie Alsmiller has focused on customer problems in difficult industries such as Energy and Telecommunications. Prior to starting Appterra in 2005, Alsmiller was VP of Global Operations for Allegro Development, a leading provider of software for the energy sector. He has also served as president of OmniSpace Technologies, a leading SaaS provider that he founded in 1999. He spent over 10 years in the consulting world with Price Waterhouse and Deloitte Consulting, where he participated in a wide variety of projects for very high profile clients. Mr. Alsmiller holds a BBA from Baylor University in Management and Information Systems and a MBA from the University of Dallas in International Business. Specialties: Technology ventures, Enterprise Software, Contract Negotiation, International Operations, Private Equity, Product Management, Strategic Alliances, Software Implementation, Software Development

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