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Leveraging real time data – The next phase of digital transformation

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By Deb Dutta – General Manager, Asia Pacific & Japan, DataStax.

Trying times and tenacious transformation are fast shaping a future that will be written in real-time. A decade ago, all talk was about modernisation – how organisations need to digitalise operations or move to the cloud for better data storage to improve business capabilities.

Deb Dutta

Fast forward to 2022 and “digital transformation” is seen as just another high- point in the annals of technology history. Today, it’s no longer just about adopting technology to improve business processes. The focus and priority have dramatically shifted towards activating data to drive actions in real-time.

After India went into lockdown mode in 2020 and 2021, the customer interaction landscape radically changed, with most going online to make purchases or financial transactions. This triggered the rise of what we now know as “digital-first” customers. Digital-first customers expect nothing less than in-the-moment experiences via omnichannel interactions for products or services. Enterprises that were already at a good level of digitalisation to deliver these kinds of experiences fared reasonably well while those that didn’t, faced numerous challenges.

According to research from EY India’s E-commerce and consumer internet sector report, the shift in consumer behavior has accelerated India’s consumer digital economy, which is expected to become an US$800 billion market by 2030. For enterprises to gain a competitive advantage, delivering real-time customer experiences and capabilities is non-negotiable. Anything less and the prospect of descending into irrelevance becomes a possibility.

Why the struggle with data?
Before charting the course to real-time data success, it’s important for enterprises to understand why activating data in real-time has been tough even when they have endless streams of data at their disposal. Many enterprises are challenged by the complexities of unifying their data owing to fragmentation. Whether it’s due to organisational structures or operational policies, data is often stored in silos and strewn across an organisation in disparate systems.

When these silos don’t interact with one another, data can’t be accessed at speed and scale, preventing enterprises from unlocking the full value of their data. This inevitably creates hurdles in building real-time capabilities and customer experience. Over the last few years, hundreds of companies in India have gone through digital transformation yet many struggles to use their data in new ways and become data-driven enterprises. Much of this is down to continuous reliance on a monolithic data architecture that relies on
relational databases.

These databases are more focused on data storage optimisation rather
than data performance. However, with today’s deluge of data and the heavy pressure of modern workloads to accommodate, traditional models can no longer cope with the complexity and volume of data.

Monolithic data architectures have proven to be slow, extremely tough to scale, and susceptible to frequent failures, which can hamper developer productivity. Enterprises that are currently winning with their data and driving profitable growth are those that have deployed modern data architectures that consolidate and transform vast amounts of data
into real-time insights and compelling in-the-moment digital experiences that customers today expect.

A McKinsey study found that personalisation tends to drive between 10% to 15% growth in revenue, which means greater returns for enterprises that become more adept at applying data to grow customer knowledge and intimacy. In a recent State of the Data Race 2022 survey of more than 500 CIOs and technology practitioners, about 71% of all respondents agree that they can tie their revenue growth directly to real-time data while 78%
acknowledge that real-time data is now a “must-have,” and no longer a “nice to have.”

Winning with data and becoming a data-driven leader There is absolutely no doubt that we are now in the age of data but for many Indian enterprises, data remains their most under-leveraged, high-value asset. Business leaders recognise this yet struggle to make the most of it due to their inability to shatter data silos. Whether it’s stored in public clouds or on-premises, siloed data often has the tendency to become redundant. The key to unlocking the value of this data is the ability to unify it, process it, and swiftly use it to deliver instantaneous experiences to customers.

The concept of real-time data is not new. It can be dated back to the early 2000s but the right technology to drive real-time actions was lacking at that time. This is no longer the case as today we have tech stacks to help enterprises build apps that power user experiences, drive critical processes, and ultimately increase customer satisfaction and revenue. Success, though, hinges on having the right tech stack, which includes NoSQL databases optimised for instant data access and customer context while reducing
complexities and lowering go-to-market costs.

As customer behavior and actions are critical for enterprises to deliver on expectations, a best-of-breed streaming and messaging platform is an equally important part of the stack to connect analytics and storage. This enables enterprises to capture data-in-motion and make it visible to all applications to deliver action when it matters. Enterprises will also need to provide their developers with an API framework that is designed to support multiple development tools and data models — enabling developers to focus on building applications instead of wrestling with data infrastructure.

With the right data stack in place, enterprises in India can embark on a data strategy designed to innovate and grow their business with speed and agility, improving customer experience and gaining a competitive advantage as a data-driven enterprise.

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