Concrete example: One of our consulting clients was using a synchronous webservice for their retail store locator. We needed to create a form where store owners could change whether they’re listed in the store locator. When a store owner submits the form, should she have to wait around while our site sends her change to the store locator webservice? We didn’t think so. So we decided to use Drupal’s Queue API, which lets us save up all the store owners’ changes and send them to the webservice in a batch.
Here’s a simple example of adding items to a queue in a form submit handler and processing them in the next cron run.