At its most basic, the goal of log file monitoring is finding things which otherwise would have been missed, such as trends, anomalies, changes, risks, and opportunities. For some firms, log files exist to meet compliance requirements or because software already in use generates them automatically. But for others, analyzing log files – even in real time, as they are created – is incredibly valuable.
In many industries, the speed with which analysis is performed is immaterial. For a personnel-heavy division, for example, looking at employee logs weekly or monthly might provide enough information.
For others, though, the difference between detecting an upsell opportunity while a customer is still on their website, compared to 30 seconds later, could make a difference in what’s purchased. For a smaller subset of applications, real-time monitoring can make the difference between catastrophic failures which could cost millions, and routine maintenance solving the problem.
In general, fields where the mean time to recover from failure is high, and cost of downtime expensive, real-time log file monitoring can prevent costly mistakes and open up otherwise missed opportunities.
Let’s look at two fields that are rapidly adopting real-time analytics: manufacturing and financial services.
Banking & Financial Services
Real-time analysis of log files presents three major opportunities to financial services firms.
First, it allows them the opportunity to make trades faster. Real-time log file monitoring can find network issues and unwanted latency, ensuring that trades are committed when they’re ordered – not later, when the opportunity for arbitrage is entirely passed.
Second, real-time analysis of customer interactions (with ATMs, electronic banking, or even service representatives) provides the opportunity to increase customer satisfaction and even upsell opportunities by noticing trends in behavior as they happen.
Third, real-time analysis of log files is a tremendous boon to security. In a world reliant on technology to support delicate financial systems, real-time analysis may catch network intruders before they can commit crimes. Legacy analysis would find only traces and lost money.
For manufacturers, especially heavily automated ones, uptime can be critical. Any time that a factory isn’t running because something has gone wrong, it could be losing money both for the company directly, and for any clients downstream who might rely on it to produce intermediate goods.
In these circumstances, real-time monitoring can alleviate risks. Analyzing logs daily, or even every half-hour, wouldn’t notice a machine malfunctioning until potentially too late. On the other hand, real-time analysis can detect failure before it spreads from one machine into the next part of an assembly line.
Real-time analysis can also provide opportunities for manufacturers to streamline operations. In cases where factory equipment is heavily specialized, for example, repair parts can take days or weeks to arrive, all of which is downtime.
Weekly log analysis likely wouldn’t detect parts beginning to wear down until it’s too late. Real-time analysis, on the other hand, allows factory operators to purchase replacement parts preemptively, thereby minimizing or eliminating downtime.
Additionally, real-time log file monitoring in the manufacturing sector can allow companies to keep smaller quantities of inventory or intermediate products on hand. This can help to lower costs and streamline operations.
Ultimately, not every company or business unit will gain tremendous value from real-time analysis. Most, however, will find far more value in under-utilized log files than they expect.
As costs come down and real-time analysis proliferates, it would be prudent for companies to make sure they’re ahead of the curve, or at least tracking it as it evolves.