In a world where speed and agility are essential to success, most organizations still operate slowly and deliberately, cementing each step months in advance, responding to new developments with careful but time-consuming processes.

The Internet has fundamentally changed the pace of business, compressing time and rewarding speed.

Real-time means news breaks over minutes, not days. It means ideas percolate and then suddenly and unpredictably go viral to a global audience. Real-time is when companies develop (or refine) products or services instantly, based on feedback from customers or events in the marketplace. And it's when businesses see an opportunity and are the first to act on it.

My first job was on a Wall Street trading desk in the 1980s. I witnessed real-time technology transforming financial trading into a game where instant information informs split-second decisions worth millions of dollars.

It has taken a quarter century. But in the case of marketing and public relations (PR), all industries are finally feeling the impact of the real-time revolution.

We can all react instantly to what's happening in the news, just like a bond trader. We can engage members of the media on their timetable, precisely when they are writing a story.

But we've got to develop a business culture that encourages speed over sloth. The MBA-style approach of working off spreadsheets that predict what to do months into the future is no help when news is breaking in your industry today.

As financial market players know, advantage comes from reacting to news first. The same thing is true for all companies.

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image of David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist, entrepreneur, and partner in the sonic branding studio Signature Tones. He is the author of 10 books, including The New Rules of Marketing and PR, now in its 6th edition, with 350,000+ copies sold in English and available in 29 languages.

Twitter: @dmscott

LinkedIn: David Meerman Scott