Batch vs real-time processing: Which data processing method is right for your business?

Gibson Toombs

June 8, 2022

6 min read

From customer service, to inventory management, to sales and marketing, the average business handles a wide range of critical data—and there are different approaches to collecting, entering, and processing this data. Some areas of business benefit from the simplicity and efficiency of batch processing, while others require the speed and accessibility of real-time data.

Here at Codal, we recently helped our client in the eCommerce grocery space migrate its order processing system from batch to real time—resulting in a more effective system for fulfilling online orders, and ultimately a better online shopping experience. In this case, the move from batch to real-time processing was necessary for streamlining internal workflows and meeting customer expectations. However, there are many situations where a batch processing approach is more effective.

In this article, we explore the differences between batch and real-time processing, along with the various use cases and pros and cons of each.

Batch processing

With batch processing, a large volume of data is collected over a defined period of time, then processed all at once. This “batch” of data goes through three stages: input, processing, and output—each of which is executed automatically by a different software program.

Payroll and billing systems often use batch processing, since it’s the most straightforward approach, and there’s rarely a need for real-time data in these domains. For example, at a company where employees get paid every other Friday, the payroll system can be programmed to automatically execute paychecks in two-week intervals.

Let’s quickly summarize the pros and cons of batch processing:

Batch Processing Pros & Cons

Real-time processing

Real-time processing is faster and more responsive than batch processing, but it’s also more complex. Systems that require an immediate output of data—following an action by a user—are entirely dependent on real-time processing.

A good example of this is a bank ATM withdrawal—where the user enters their credentials, and the machine has to automatically collect, approve, and process the transaction in a matter of seconds. Another common example is a website customer service app—where the user types an inquiry into a chat box, and the system proceeds to interpret the text, determine a solution, then provide a response. In both of these cases, any delay between the data getting collected and processed would ultimately defeat the purpose of that user experience.

Here are the key pros and cons of real-time processing:

Real-Time Processing Pros & Cons

Implementing data processing systems for your business

Whether it be for order fulfillment, payroll, or sales and marketing, implementing the most optimal data processing system will play a significant role in the success of your growing business. But determining the right approach, integrating the necessary technologies, and effectively updating internal procedures doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a team of business and technical experts who understand your company, its customers, and its technological ecosystem.

As mentioned earlier, Codal recently implemented a real-time data processing system for our client in the eCommerce grocery space. We also build custom solutions for organizations in healthcare, agriculture, legal, finance, and a wide range of other niches. With years of experience designing, developing, testing, launching, and managing highly complex and innovative data systems, our team is always up for a new challenge.

Are you looking to modernize your business’ existing technology stack to cut costs, streamline internal processes, and enhance the customer experience? Reach out to Codal today!

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