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Data in motion is extremely important for building rich customer experiences: Srinivasulu Grandhi, VP-Engineering, Confluent

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Confluent, a data streaming platform for setting data in motion, recently announced 100 additional new jobs to be created over the rest of the year in India – a 50% increase in the current workforce – along with the opening of a new office in Bangalore, India. The move affirms the company’s commitment to driving high growth in 2022 by building its global presence and offering a differentiated model for cloud-native, complete and fully-managed data in motion in India.The new office and engineering hub comes amid surging demand for data streaming as companies modernise data processes across all industries including retail, automotive, manufacturing, and financial services sectors.

Srinivasulu Grandhi, Vice President of Engineering and Site Leader at Confluent, shares with us, the importance of data in motion, and how companies can use it to better connect with their customers by understanding their preferences.

Some edited excerpts:

Tell us about the company and the services that your company offers?
Founded in 2014 by the original creators of Apache Kafka, Confluent is a data streaming platform that helps set data in motion. Confluent’s cloud-native platform is designed to be the intelligent connective tissue enabling real-time data streaming from multiple sources across an organization. Acting as a central nervous system, companies are able to react and respond intelligently to everything that happens in their business.

Confluent’s platform also provides virtually infinite storage and elastic scalability, meaning that it is fully equipped to meet the needs of businesses as they expand, without disrupting or completely overhauling existing technological infrastructure. Confluent also offers an extensive portfolio of pre-built Kafka connectors, enabling businesses to modernize entire data architecture even faster with powerful integrations on any scale.

Has the pandemic impacted your business and how?
Key trends that emerged from the pandemic included new business models, the reprioritization of technology advancement, and most notably, a push toward real-time event streaming in the cloud as a core enabler for innovation. In order to survive, companies quickly deployed real-time digital capabilities to drive cost reduction and real-time customer experiences in key business processes like intelligent automation, supply chain analytics, risk, and fraud.

COVID-19 has elevated the importance of real-time, event-driven decisions making but organizations continue to face challenges in implementing the necessary technology. The biggest barrier was legacy systems already in place, which slowed the analysis of real-time events and in turn delayed responses as well. Manual steps also prevented employees like IT and developers from working on innovative products.

In order to overcome these challenges, organizations turned to cloud-based, fully managed event streaming platforms like ours to provide reliable ecosystem management and secure deployment of infrastructure. In addition, making use of cloud integration helps companies reap benefits such as cost-effectiveness and the elasticity to scale when required. Organizations are now able to save on resources while enabling innovative business models with intelligent responses to real-time events. By maintaining such flexibility, Confluent was able to meet our customers’ technology demands accelerated by the pandemic.

What role does the Engineering Hub in Bangalore play from a global point of view? What are the solutions and products that this centre will provide?
Bangalore is fast becoming the technology hub of the region, which makes it a natural home for Confluent to deliver its new category of data infrastructure. While Bangalore offers an exceptional pool of technology expertise, our remote-first culture enables us to hire top talent across India and the surrounding region. Our Engineering team is expanding its footprint to deliver end-to-end products for our customer base. We currently have 200 employees and are planning to increase our India workforce by 50% from now till the end of 2022. We’re looking at the majority of the 100-employee headcount to fill in product and engineering roles.

We are seeing strong adoption of our data infrastructure as Digital natives and enterprises are racing to embrace the digital world. It is a great opportunity to collaborate with both India-based and international customers to evolve our global product portfolio.

How is Confluent helping customers to set their data in motion?
The way Confluent helps customers set data in motion is through the use of Apache Kafka open-source technology. Globally, Kafka is one of the most successful open-source projects with approximately 70% of the Fortune 500 deploying its technology.

Being fully managed and cloud-native, Confluent enables our customers to free up precious engineering resources from time-consuming infrastructure management, and instead channel their expertise into helping the business to connect and process data across all sources. The enterprise-grade software helps Confluent’s clients deliver rich, digital front-end customer experiences while transitioning to sophisticated, real-time, software-driven back-end operations.

Objects at rest will remain at rest, but objects in motion will keep moving. The same principle applies to data, but when it is set in motion, it sparks action and henceforth, reaction. In an environment where everything is always evolving, an organization’s customer experiences and business operations must evolve too and this begins with setting data in motion.

The Confluent difference lies in triggering instantaneous reactions across organizations and enabling them to make data-driven decisions in real time.

What are the trends and innovations in ‘Data in Motion’ that you foresee?

Setting data in motion is crucial for businesses to collect, manage and analyze their data in order to garner insights that will help them thrive in a post-pandemic world. While many companies re-examined their digital strategies prior and during the pandemic, most were turning to a one-time digital overhaul, instead of looking at implementing sustainable and compatible systems for the long term. Increasingly more companies have realized the value of real-time insights, and we predict that these organizations will look towards engaging experienced partners to help them achieve their digital strategies.

One such value is better customer engagement. The recent State of Data in Motion report shows that 80% of organizations globally believe data in motion to be very or extremely important when it comes to building rich customer experiences. With consumers expecting the user journey or interactions to be instantaneous and highly personalized, many companies look towards using real-time data streaming to better connect with their customers by understanding their preferences.

Another trend would be the increasing focus placed on successful data integration across various silos. While data in motion has proved to be critical in providing business value, one of the biggest challenges faced by IT leaders globally is integrating multiple data sources. Costs aside, the greater hurdle to overcome is ensuring platform security, reliability across integrated sources, and governance of data, ensuring that they are scalable as and when the situation calls for it. As key factors that must be taken into consideration when companies look to set their data in motion, it comes as no surprise that many will place a higher priority on them.

How has your business evolved over time and how do you think the future will pan out over the next couple of years?
Our business aims to focus on the importance of setting data in motion. We believe that having the right technological infrastructure and cloud-native systems in place helps our customers unleash the power of real-time data. Tapping into these insights will allow our clients to focus on delivering greater business value, and creating more personalized experiences for their customers.

In addition, we are looking to expand our footprint to deliver end-to-end products and services for our customers. As a technological hub, Bangalore is the ideal environment for us to deliver a new generation of data infrastructure. The fast-paced environment and quick advancement in technology make it the perfect testing ground to continuously innovate based on changing customers’ needs and demands.

We believe that the next few years will be extremely agile, fresh, and exciting as we continue deepening and expanding our product portfolio to accelerate our customers’ transformation to become real-time enterprises.

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