Real-Time Revolution

Transforming Your Organization to Value Customer Time


The Real-Time Revolution – Transforming Your Organization to Value Customer Time


Jerry Power and Tom Ferratt 

From Berrett-Koehler Publishing 


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Time is becoming the dominant customer currency.  Customers want to spend their scarce time well.  For example, when ordering a product, the ideal ordering process would take virtually no time and would be completed effectively.  The order would be accurate and complete.  Real time is the actual time that placing an order (or any event) takes; however, “real time” has popularly come to mean instantaneous.  Instantaneous may not always be possible, but it is an ideal to strive to achieve.  So, ideal customer experiences are events that are completed instantaneously and effectively. 

Organizations striving to provide ideal customer experiences are real-time organizations.  They are the core of the Real-Time Revolution.  These organizations are demonstrating that they value customer time.  Organizations that come closer to the ideal than their competitors are valuing customer time more effectively.  They are becoming more real-time than their competitors.  Companies that do not strive to provide customers with ideal customer experiences have not joined the Real-Time Revolution and are in real-time denial.  Their survival is threatened by organizations that join the Real-Time Revolution.

To survive and thrive, leaders must transform their organizations to value customer time more effectively than competitors do.  Supporting real-time transformation are three related guidelines:

  1. The real-time organization must be agile enough to detect and respond to changing customer expectations regarding time better than competitors do. 
  2. The real-time organization must engage customers throughout the life of its products and services such that customers view the organization as valuing their time and, thus, meeting their needs more than competitors do.    
  3. The real-time organization will be transformed to value customer time through these core organizational levers:  products and services, processes, data, and people.

Blogging About the Real-Time Revolution


"The Real-Time Revolution and What You Can Do" by Tom Ferratt

July 2019

A new reality is driving a revolution in business:  time is becoming the dominant customer currency.  This new reality requires a revolutionary shift in how your organization operates for it to survive and you to maintain your livelihood.  Let’s examine this revolution, which Jerry Power and I call the “Real-Time Revolution,” [1] and what you can do in your organization.

Under the new reality, we, as customers, want to spend our scarce time well.  Ideally, when we place orders or seek to address problems we are having with organizations, we want our interactions with these organizations to occur instantaneously.  Of course, we also want the interaction to be completed effectively.  Thus, we want the order to be completed correctly or the problem to be solved completely so that we do not need to spend more time correcting errors or incomplete orders or having to wait or search for further answers to problems.  

For many products and services, minimizing the expenditure of customer time while assuring that customer experiences are effective should be the goal.  However, there are also examples of customer experiences that are enjoyable, productive, or otherwise satisfying because of what the customer obtains.  Improving the quality of time spent should be the goal of the organization for these customer experiences.  Minimizing customer time in a movie theater is not the goal of a movie maker; rather, it is to enhance the entertainment value of the customer’s time spent.  For the customer who wants a higher quality dining establishment, the main dining experience creates the most customer value.  The quality of that experience needs to be maintained and improved.  Nevertheless, the customer may perceive that faster subsidiary activities, such as making a reservation, getting seated, and paying the bill, enhance the main dining experience.

The essential implication arising from the new reality regarding time as our dominant currency is that we will patronize organizations that demonstrate they value our time better than other organizations, and we will avoid those that do not value our time as well.  A fundamental shift is occurring in organizations that embrace this new reality.  Not only are they following traditional business practices, such as seeking to use their resources efficiently, thereby valuing the time of their employees and other productive assets, but they are also valuing customer time.  Indeed, valuing customer time is becoming a central focus of their decision making, their operations, and their interactions with their customers.  This fundamental shift is the essence of the real-time revolution.

Consider this example from Dyson [2].  Before leaving home for the day, people often groom themselves. When rushing to make a scheduled appointment, time can become a critical concern. Dyson created an innovative hair dryer that has been engineered to protect hair from extreme heat damage, with fast drying and controlled styling.  When asked to evaluate Dyson’s hair dryer, one customer reported, “I’ve been using Dyson’s Supersonic hair dryer for a year, and I swear by it . . . I have thick hair, but it only takes me 10 minutes to get it completely dry with this dryer—it’s a major time-saver in the morning.”  The Dyson hair dryer demonstrates a respect for customer time by allowing for rapid grooming while at the same time reducing the risk associated with a rushed grooming process; a rushed process can cause damage that needs to be repaired, resulting in a missed appointment. Alternatively, it could cause a bad impression, undermining the quality of the appointment time.

Although the actual time to dry hair, e.g., 10 minutes in the Dyson example, is the real time it takes to use the hair dryer, “real time” has come to mean instantaneous.   Given customers’ desire to spend as little of their scarce time as possible on many of their customer experiences, they have come to expect such customer experiences to be instantaneous and effective.  Organizations that are striving to meet these expectations or, at least, provide experiences that are better than the competition provides, are driving the real-time revolution.

To ensure survival, organizational leaders and members must innovate to value customer time more effectively than competitors do.  When they succeed, they can celebrate.  However, they must be wary of their competition outdoing them.  Such is the nature of the real-time revolution.

The basis for competitive success and failure is changing.  Organizations that fail to focus on the importance of customer time are in real-time denial.  They risk having their customers abandon them for real-time competitors.  Compare the differing fortunes of Netflix and Blockbuster Video.

So, what can you do to help your organization focus on valuing customer time?  To adapt to this new focus, your organization must be able to monitor and respond to changing customer time expectations.  Monitoring includes collecting data on the time and effectiveness of customer experiences over the life of a product or service.  Besides how well you are doing with your customers, you also want to monitor how well your competitors are doing.  Responding to customer expectations and what competitors are doing includes looking for innovations.  Various levers provide places to look.  Levers include changes in the design of products or services as in the Dyson example, changes in processes (e.g., ordering, producing, servicing), changes in the data used to complete steps or monitor customer experiences, and changes in the people involved.

What happens if your organization develops an ability to monitor and respond to changing customer time expectations, including innovating to value customer time better?  Your organization is more likely to survive and thrive.  If your organization does not develop this ability, its survival is threatened. 

The challenge to you is to help your organization focus on valuing customer time.  Becoming a more real-time organization involves an ongoing cycle of monitoring and innovating.  It is not a one-time action.  You must engage others in your organization, as well as those in your supply chain and other stakeholders, in adopting this revolutionary focus on the new reality that time is becoming the dominant customer currency.  Avoid real-time denial.  Join the real-time revolution!


[1] Jerry Power and Tom Ferratt, The Real-Time Revolution – Transforming Your Organization to Value Customer Time, Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, forthcoming September 2019. 

[2] “Dyson Supersonic™ Hair Dryer,” Dyson, 2018. Accessed August 27, 2018 at  Also, Kelsey Mulvey, “11 Things That Help Us Get Ready in the Morning Faster,” Insider Picks, Business Insider, July 17, 2017. Accessed August 27, 2018 at

Real-Time Revolution Endorsements

The value of time is directly attributable to customer satisfaction and thereof any company's ultimate success. In an industry where quality-of-experience and quality-of-service are metrics for key progress indicators, Power and Ferratt highlight the criticality of transforming to a real-time company to meet and anticipate the needs of the customer. As we anticipate the fourth industrial revolution and the fusion of technologies, the books focus on real-time is opportune and an invaluable doctrine of the importance of time as a key market differentiator.”

Ralf Jacob,
Verizon Digital Media Services

One of the time-tested aphorisms in the business world speaks to the "time value of money." In Jerry Power and Tom Ferratt’s The Real-Time Revolution, the focus is more on "the money value of time.” In today’s hyper-accelerating world, engagement, agility, and transformation become the key forces for change, while products and services, business processes, data, and people are the currency upon which those forces are unleashed. Time may be money, but speed is profit: Digital Transformation is here, and the sooner companies embrace its inexorable impact, the sooner they will reap the benefits, as laid out in The Real-Time Revolution

Dr. Steven Shepard,
Shepard Communications Group

Technology advancements are pushing the envelope of time management. As our digital world continues to rapidly advance, this book is essential for anyone in the technology space, or those that use it!

Steve Garske,
Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer,
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

What is the most valuable thing that you could give to a friend, a colleague, or a customer?  For many, the answer to that question is TIME.  Is the gift of time possible?  Can the gift of time be a bond for friendships and colleagues?  Could competitive advantage be gained through the gift of time to customers?  If you are seeking a path to competitive advantage that does not require economic compromise, you must read this book.  Your investment of the few hours of your time you will spend with this book could yield tremendous value to you and your organization as you gain competitive advantage by offering time to your customers.

Randall B. Dunham,
Emeritus Professor of Management and International Business, and Faculty Director, Executive Global Learning Experiences,
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Time is of the essence is a saying that has held true for many years. The Real Time Revolution highlights the urgent need to value our customer's time.  Highly relevant and action oriented it is a must read for all leaders striving to stay competitive in today's market place.

Lynn Mangan,

As firms look to digitally transform their experience, Power and Ferratt provide a fascinating new lens to think about transformation - the role of time. I am sure their book will be highly influential.

Munir Mandviwalla,
Executive Director of the Institute for Business and Information Technology,
Temple University

If you are a business owner, or a leader who has been baffled with how to differentiate in today’s digital world, this may be the book that unpacks the mystery. The one thing that we are learning in the digital revolution is that customers are looking for faster and easier. “Real-Time Revolution: Transforming Your Organization to Value Customer Time” is about process, but more importantly about culture. It bridges the dilemma that many organizations face related to responsiveness and personalization with speed. Yes, we need to be fast, but we also need to recognize the individual needs and preferences of those customers. “Real-Time Revolution brings a grounded but practical approach to valuing your customers’ most important resource…time, recognizing that responsiveness, and “real-time” expectations continue to evolve. This book will challenge your thinking and provide you a playbook for moving your organization toward a more Real-Time solution for your customer and potential customers, and differentiating yourself in your market. 

Mary Marcus, PhD,
Founder and Chief Innovator,
OrganizationDynamic Inc.

If you are a business leader seeking to keep up with the transformational power of technology to cope with the increasing demands of the environment and build an enterprise that can cope with rapid change, I urge you to read this book.  This book will show you how to engage your customers and empower your employees so that you can join and lead the real-time revolution.  A must read!

Andrew H. Schwarz,
Professor, Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship & Information Systems,
Louisiana State University

In an age where time has become the currency of our lives, Power and Ferratt explore time as a customer-centric value for businesses. They persuasively argue – with real-world, real-time case studies across industries - that, in our increasingly fast-paced lives, valuing customers’ time becomes the key battleground and marketplace differentiator.  In addition, they provide a new framework for real-time organisations – those that value time from the perspective of the customer – which will deliver a better customer experience, higher customer satisfaction, and ultimately greater success.

Heidi Taylor,
Managing Director,
Heidi Taylor Marketing

Tom Ferratt and Jerry Power have come up with a perspective on time and how it is viewed by customers that can raise useful questions relative to one's own products and services.  Their perspective emphasizes both the value of shortening duration as well as adding valued engagement while structuring interactions between organization and customer.  I found it stimulating to apply these concepts to the enterprises where I am a participant.

Fred Niederman,
Shaughnessy Endowed Professor,
St. Louis University

The Real-Time Revolution is both progressive and practical.  Innovation is no longer enough.  In a digital age with countless choices, organizations must compete for consumer time and align their operations to do so.  This book is a playbook for Digital 2.0.

Ted Ross,
Chief Information Officer,
City of Los Angeles

In this book Power and Ferratt have transformed the currency of companies from economics to time.  By relentlessly focusing on the importance of time, the authors provide an elegant prose, with copious illustrations that can help companies rethink their provision of customer experiences.  This eminently readable book offers a useful framework in the form of a set of levers that can help leaders make the transformation happen!

Varun Grover,
Distinguished Professor and David D. Glass Endowed Chair in Information Systems,
University of Arkansas 

This book explains very well a paradigm shift that is going on and processes needed to transform new age customer experience for real time methodologies to implement across boundaries within and outside of an organization. The RTMR process defined provides a good tool that could provide benefits using technologies like IoT. I would highly recommend this book.

Vivek Chhabra,
21iQLabs Founder,
former Vice President and GM, Mobile and Cellular IoT Business at Marvell

In an era in which real-time response capabilities are increasingly essential for organizations‘ digital transformation, this book is required reading for leaders who want to understand the levers that help organizations fully embrace the value of customer time.

Alexander Benlian,
Professor and Dean,
Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany

In this very original and important work Jerry Power and Tom Ferratt explain the profound significance of firms now being able to leverage ongoing real-time relationships with customers and thereby improve the quality of customer time. This is not just a matter of being fast or better coding. In a nuanced and practical fashion—armed with diverse illustrations—the book identifies a diverse set of competencies required for capturing real-time advantage, including speedy decision making, sophisticated analytics, re-engineered processes, innovative technology, agile strategy, adaptive organization, switched-on cultures, and talented people.

Mel Horwitch,
Former Professor and Dean Central European University Business School,
Central European University

Great read! Valuable insights and advice on how organizations can be designed and managed in order to be effective in today’s rapidly changing highly competitive world.

Edward E. Lawler III,
Director of the Center for Effective Organizations and Distinguished Professor,
University of Southern California

"Customer Experience is Key to Strategic Planning"  by William E. Hammer, Jr.

August 2019

Excellent exposition that leaders of companies and organizations will find to be an important resource in strategic planning. The new competitive environment driven by the need to provide customers with the best real-time experience is presented in a clear and comprehensive way. The imperative for companies to value customer time, and continuously work to minimize the time customers expend in interacting with their products and/or services is identified as the key to business success. The authors further detail the levers a company can use to become a real-time leader and gain competitive advantage.

William E. Hammer, Jr., Hammer Management Consulting and former Director of Information Systems of the Duriron Company, Inc. (now Flowserve Corporation), Fellow of the Institute of Industrial and systems Engineers.


Jerry Power Bio

Jerry Power is the Executive Director of The Institute for Communication Technology Management (CTM) at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.  CTM is actively engaged in identifying, understanding, and leveraging emerging trends driven by the rapid evolution of digital communications technologies and services. Through CTMs research and educational programs, the Institute explores the new opportunities and challenges in the age of digital transformations. CTM embraces our increasingly dynamic market and harnesses the thought leadership of the University and the CTM community to find new ways to thrive in this evolving business climate.  

Jerry is also a founding member of the I3 Consortium.  I3 is working to create an open source Internet-of-Things data governance tool that allows communities of independent IOT device owners to work together as active members of the expanding data ecosystem.  The consortium recognizes the importance and the personalized nature of privacy, trust, and incentives as key enablers of a sustainable, managed, and networked IOT infrastructure that supports collaborative IOT environments where data must transcend organization boundaries.   


Tom Ferratt Bio

Tom Ferratt is professor emeritus at the University of Dayton. He is a nationally recognized academic, researcher, and consultant. The Advanced Practices Council (APC) of the Society for Information Management (SIM), a professional network for information technology (IT) leadership, sponsored his work with Ritu Agarwal on developing and retaining a world-class IT staff.   That work led to their book, Coping with Labor Scarcity in Information Technology: Strategies and Practices for Effective Recruitment and Retention.  Other work with Chief Information Officers (CIOs) includes developing a community health information network with hospitals in the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association to share patient information across emergency rooms.  Tom’s research has been published and featured in leading publications, including MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Academy of Management Journal, Communications of the ACM, and Computerworld.  He has been on the editorial boards of internationally recognized IT journals.  He holds a PhD from Ohio State University.