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Monday, March 3, 2014

Social Media - Batch or Real Time

In the early days of the computer industry the only way to do computing was in “Batch Mode”. In this mode a “job” was submitted to a computer, often behind a glass wall, the Job was “run” and a result was giving back through the glass wall. If the programmer did not do the job within the parameters of the specific “language” (Cobol, Fortran, etc) the result was often an error message requiring correction and then a rerun of the job. If there was an issue with the operation of the computer, your job was delayed. So what?

As the industry progressed it moved into a “Real Time Mode” often associated with operating a process industry facility, where the process had to move along at a consistent speed. If the job was not sufficiently debugged offline before being placed in service, there were serious production issues to deal with. If there was in issue with the operation of the computer it could be a major hit on the business. Then came Disaster Tolerant computing designed to deal with keeping things up and running all the time.

We can apply this same analogy to Social Media today. One might look at email as a “Batch Mode”. Where the user selects the time to review and respond at his/her discretion. Mobile devices and web sites may be more like the “Real Time Mode” described above, in that they are on-line all the time, and presumed to be always available.

For some businesses “Batch” is fine. Consider a storefront where the store is has certain hours it is open for business. For other businesses “Real Time” is the only answer. Think about a web based business as an example. Some businesses may use both a storefront and web model. Here “Real Time” is the answer.

I offer this analogy as a method of helping you think through your business model and consider the needs for Disaster Tolerance in your planning.

How is your business doing in this area?

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


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