TIBCO CEO: How Real-Time Computing Will Change the Landscape

Vivek Ranadive is a big proponent of event-driven computing and Enterprise 3.0

Vivek Ranadive is not only the chief executive officer of TIBCO Software, Inc., he's a New York Times bestselling author (of works like The Power of Now, The Power to Predict and the recently released The Two-Second Advantage: How We Succeed by Anticipating the Future -- Just Enough.) As you'd expect from such a literary type, this proponent of event-driven computing and herald of Enterprise 3.0 is handy with a well-turned phrase. He describes your relational database as a "phone that doesn't ring" and his description of what happens when you open a certain software package from rival IBM is likely to stick in your mind. In this latest installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, Ranadive spoke with IDGE Chief Content Officer John Gallant about why your company needs to move to real-time computing and how TIBCO's 'two-second advantage' can change your business.

Let's start by setting the table. Explain for folks what it is that TIBCO does for enterprise customers and what makes the company unique among enterprise software providers? TIBCO provides the platform that allows companies to tie all their systems together and so that you can take advantage of real-time events. In the 20th century, people would react to things after they happened by looking at information in a database. With the TIBCO platform, not only do you save a lot of money because you're able to connect everything through a software bus so you don't have to have lots of back-and-forth interfaces, but you're then able to find things out before they happen. I call this in my new book the 'two-second advantage.' If you have just a little bit of the right information, just a little bit beforehand, it's more valuable than all the information in the world six months after. What's the point of knowing you've lost a customer after the customer leaves or that you've had fraud committed after the money was lost, or that you have a power outage when it's already dark?

Think of Oracle as the platform for transactions, for static data. In that world, data was static and the Oracle database was the building block, ERP was the killer app and business intelligence was the [tool for] business insight. In the TIBCO world, instead of dealing with static data, it's dynamic or moving data. Instead of a database in the middle, you have a service bus that connects everything. And instead of a database-oriented architecture it's a service-oriented architecture. Instead of having to continue buying siloed ERP apps, you do end-to-end business processes as part of BPM [business process management] capability. Instead of having reporting systems for business intelligence, where you're grinding reports out months after things have happened, you have predictive systems that enable you to predict that, say, you're about to lose a customer.

In the past world, the development tool was an app server and in this new world you have event-servers where you are dealing with events. An event is when something happens. It could be when a customer walks past the aisle of a store, it could be when you get on a plane and your bag doesn't, it could be when a call is dropped on your network; all of those are events.

Give me an example of how a company is using this event information to improve their business. A telco in India was adding 5 million customers a month and they were losing a million and a half. In the old world, people were going into a database six months after and trying to make sense out of what was happening. In the event-driven world, we saw that after six dropped calls, you switched. So after the fifth dropped call, we would make you an offer for free SMS minutes if you topped off your prepaid card. So the problem of customer loss was gone.

If you have a power outage, there is a string of events that you can anticipate and you can prevent that outage. Or if there's a weather delay, that causes a forward chain of events that we're able to pick up, connect the dots and adapt the value chain so that pilots aren't showing up, planes aren't sitting, crews aren't waiting, food isn't going to waste and customers are not being left stranded.

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