Businesses looking to make the most of the information that have available to them not only need to be able to analyze data, but do it quickly enough that they are able to gain instant insight in order to better serve customers.

The emergence of so-called 'fast data' will therefore be the next key stage of the big data market, with firms that are able to leverage real time analytics able to see significant performance advantages over those that do not have these capabilities. This is the view of Tibco Software chief technology officer Matt Quinn, who told Computing magazine that if properly harnessed, this technology can give businesses a "two-second advantage" over its competitors.

"There's two aspects to fast data," he explained. "Yes, it's the blending of real-time information with historical context to make the right decisions. But the important thing is making decisions and acting on it in real time, which pushes it all the way into business operations."

As an example, Mr Quinn highlighted how retailers may be able to use this fast data at the checkout to encourage customers to make an extra sale.

"In order to make a real-time upsale or cross-sale, you have to do it at the moment of interaction, so it pushes big data squarely into real-time operations, enabling decisions that are going to benefit the business versus some sort of offline analysis," he stated.

Businesses may be able to use this by, for instance, gathering information on a customer as they walk around a store, Computer Weekly noted, using Internet of Things connections to each individual. This can then be used to create relevant offers at the point of sale.

Being able to gain this insight and put it into action in real-time is currently one of the biggest challenges facing companies when they embark on big data analytics projects, Mr Quinn said. He noted that while being able to find the "needle in the haystack" is crucial to the success of a project, this is only half the task. What will separate the best-performing data analytics solutions from the rest is how that take these results and put them into action.

How these questions are answered will therefore play a key role in the next stage in the evolution of the big data market, Mr Quinn continued.

"This is the point of inflection where big data becomes real, where people are actually going to interact with it in real time versus just doing some offline analysis."
Some businesses may worry that by pushing hard for instant results, they may not be able to get as complete a picture of the customers as possible, by Tibco stated that this should not be an issue in situation where speed is of the essence.

Computer Weekly reported: "Even if we only have 80 percent of the information about that shopper (but we have it immediately, or in two seconds) then that's better than us having the remaining 20 percent as well later on. The shopper has left the building, the business decision opportunity has gone."