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The Future Of Data Is Real Time

Data is the fuel of digital transformation, and this is doubly true in times of economic uncertainty and downturn. But the technology driving real innovation today doesn’t just need information

it needs access to the latest, up-to-the-minute insights in order to help us make decisions that are important now – not yesterday.

Sure, we’ve heard business leaders and technologists talk about “real-time” data for decades. But truthfully, it’s only comparatively recently that technology has been around that lets us really take advantage of it. One thing that’s clear is that now is the time to act – a recent survey conducted by DataStax as part of their annual State of the Data Race report found that 71% of the over 500 technology leaders they questioned believe that they can directly attribute revenue growth to use of real-time data in their organizations.

Some examples of businesses that have been able to harness the power of real-time data include:

●       Amazon, the world’s largest e-commerce platform, leverages machine learning to provide recommendations based on real-time user activity as well as detect fraudulent activity across its services.

●       Mastercard leverages real-time data to determine which of the millions of transactions taking place on its network every day are likely to be fraudulent, as well as reduce the risk of false positives impacting the customer experience of honest users.

●       Global telco Verizon analyzes petabytes of data traveling across its network to do everything from measuring the impact of advertising campaigns to overcoming latency issues in its transmission.

●       Australian financial services company Macquarie Group is using real-time customer behavior data to deliver a more personalized service to their customers.

●       Cloud software and service provider Barracuda Networks monitors real-time data to understand threats and security issues before they can compromise customers’ systems and data.

●       Startup financial social network Common stock lets users monitor trading activity in real-time in order to make up-to-the-minute investing decisions.

●       New York-based Titanium Intelligent Solutions is providing real-time data processing and analytics of IoT data to support the growing IoT industry.

●       The world’s largest eSports network, ESL Gaming, where over the past decade, 11 million players have competed in real-time tournaments in order to win prizes worth more than $7 million.

Monitoring, analyzing, and acting on real-time data means that businesses can take action based on the best possible insights. Traditionally its use has been confined to big companies with the budgets and skills to deploy the most powerful infrastructure and lightning-fast private networks. What’s different today is that technology has advanced to a stage where a new breed of service providers is able to offer real-time data monitoring and analytics through cloud and as-a-service infrastructure models. This means that businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from it.

I recently spoke to Thomas Been, chief marketing officer for DataStax, who told me, “If you go back 20 years, real-time data was confined to certain use cases and verticals … trading floors, telco networks, airlines … that’s changed, the technology has evolved dramatically, and everyone is connected, generating and consuming real-time data.

“It’s something that we as consumers expect … when we are looking for trips on the internet, we want to see proposals … the best trips that correspond to our tastes. We don’t want to get an email three days later.”

There are many potential uses for this data. One of the most valuable is improving customer experience. Gathering real-time data on customers as they interact with services means we can understand what they want and expect from our services right now. This has been put to great use by companies like Netflix and others in the entertainment industry to predict how we want to spend our time and serve precisely the entertainment we are looking for.

Another is to improve operational processes within companies themselves. Real-time data can be used to improve the performance and efficiency of internal operations, reduce waste, and enable predictive maintenance, where problems such as errors and breakdowns can be tackled before they occur.

Of course, it isn’t always as straightforward as this might sound, and there are still some barriers to entry. Firstly, there’s often a certain level of complexity involved with working with real-time data. Network infrastructure must be fast and resilient, and data infrastructure has to be streamlined. Organizations that hold data in silos and aren’t used to making it widely available wherever it might be useful are at a disadvantage, and there may be a need for cultural reform before they are ready to turn real-time data into business growth.

Been tells me, “It’s all about finding the right architecture, then finding a journey to get to this architecture so they can focus on the use cases and applications they want to build.”

To me, it’s clear that real-time data represents the future of business intelligence in today’s landscape of ongoing digital transformation. As cutting-edge technologies like AI become more powerful, whether an organization can or can’t harness the most up-to-the-minute information will become a growing differentiator between leaders and laggards. It’s early days, but for many businesses, now is the time to act if they want to build a competitive advantage in this exciting and fast-moving business arena.

Click here to see my full conversation with Thomas Been, CMO of DataStax, where we discuss several other use cases for real-time data in business today.

Author: Bernard Marr

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