Do you need real-time data?

Real-time dashboards. Real-time data collection. Real-time alerts and reporting.

If data can help us make better decisions, then does real-time data help us even more than data collected less frequently?

The short answer: I think it only makes sense to collect it in real-time if you are able to act upon it in near-real time. 

My longer answer:

How often you refresh data has some impacts to consider. 

Real-time data has the benefit of giving you the most up-do-date information available.

The impact of this is that you will need to transmit and store a lot more data. 

You may end up dealing with orders of magnitude bigger data-sets that require different infrastructure to manage and different tools to analyse.

More frequent data can add a lot of noise, so it’s not always giving you a clearer picture for making decisions. 

My rule of thumb is to match the cadence of data collection with the time-frame you are able to act upon it. 

If you can act immediately, then real-time data is good. 

If you will only make a decision in 3 months time, then quarterly data collection is probably ok. 

And if things are very volatile, then real-time data might hamper your ability to make a decision. Rather smooth it out by collecting fewer datapoints and use rolling-averages. 

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