In the digital-first era, data streaming has emerged as a game-changer, revolutionizing the way businesses operate and engage with customers. By harnessing the power of continuous real-time data streams and enabling real-time stream processing, organizations are unlocking new levels of efficiency and delivering unparalleled customer experiences. Data streaming provides a continuous flow of valuable insights, allowing companies to make informed decisions based on up-to-the-minute information. Rubal Sahni, area VP and country manager, India, Confluent sheds more light on the same.
DQ: How does data streaming contribute to running a more efficient and competitive business in the digital-first era?
Rubal Sahni: Data streaming plays a crucial role in running a more efficient and competitive business in the digital-first era. By providing a continuous flow of real-time data streams and enabling real-time stream processing, data streaming empowers organizations to leverage data-driven backend operations and deliver rich front-end customer experiences. This continuous movement of data, known as data in motion, offers several benefits that contribute to the success of modern businesses.
First and foremost, data in motion facilitates the generation of real-time insights. By collecting and processing real-time data streams from various sources, companies can gain a deeper understanding of their customers and operations. This enables them to make informed decisions based on up-to-date information while responding quickly and effectively to changing market conditions. For example, businesses can monitor customer behavior in real-time and adapt their marketing strategies accordingly, improving customer targeting and engagement.
Moreover, data in motion enables transformative user experiences. By harnessing the power of real-time data streams, companies can create personalized and dynamic interactions with their customers. They can deliver customized content, recommendations, and offers based on real-time insights, enhancing the customer experience and fostering customer loyalty. For instance, streaming platforms can provide tailored content recommendations based on users’ viewing habits and preferences, improving user satisfaction and engagement.
Furthermore, data in motion contributes to streamlined efficiencies. By providing instant access to the most up-to-date information, businesses can optimize their operations. Real-time data streams enable faster decision-making, allowing companies to identify and address inefficiencies promptly. For example, supply chain management systems can use real-time data to track inventory levels, anticipate demand, optimize logistics, minimize wastage and improve resource utilization.
Data streaming and the continuous movement of data contribute significantly to running a more efficient and competitive business in the digital-first era. Embracing data in motion enables companies to stay ahead in the dynamic and fast-paced digital landscape, making informed decisions and providing exceptional customer experiences.
DQ: What size of enterprises were represented in the survey and what insights were gained about their use of data streaming?
Rubal Sahni: The survey encompassed a diverse range of enterprises, including midsize to large organizations across various industries. Responses collected from 2,250 IT leaders, with 300 from India, provided valuable insights into the use of data streaming in these businesses.
The insights gained from the survey emphasized that data streaming has emerged as a crucial technology for organizations. The widespread use demonstrates incredible trust and confidence in the technology along with the growing need for real-time data streams across the most important parts of a business. Also, a majority of organizations that are early in their data streaming journeys are already seeing or expecting to see 2-5x return on investment. The findings of the survey shed light on the significance of data streaming for running a more efficient, responsive, and competitive business in the current digital-first era.
DQ: What are the challenges or obstacles to data streaming adoption?
Rubal Sahni: While data streaming has been identified as a critical business enabler, it presents similar challenges with most major technology-led changes like skills gaps, team silos and budget constraints. Based on our survey findings, this is true for more than 72% of IT leaders in India. Adoption tends to be disjointed and fragmented, especially within organizations that have no common operating model established. In many cases, the lack of standardization is a result of fragmented projects and uncoordinated teams, which can make issues around silos worse.
To overcome this, organizations need to foster collaboration and coordination among different teams working on data streaming initiatives. A significant number of IT leaders have prioritized the need for training and recruitment to bolster skills in data streaming – an indication of the steps businesses are taking to address the challenge.
Companies are also choosing to offload the complexity and burden of managing the infrastructure themselves. Apna, India’s largest hiring platform, opted for a fully managed cloud service to avoid the obstacles of learning, implementing and managing a new technology. The result was an increased efficiency and productivity of their developers, and a two times’ increase in speed of time to market for its business solutions.
DQ: What are the future predictions or trends in data streaming?
Rubal Sahni: The wide adoption of UPI payments have compelled many private banks in India to adopt data streaming to secure their real-time payments and operate it at scale. A number of leading online businesses like e-commerce and food delivery companies use Confluent as their central nervous system for real-time information exchange. Some of the biggest sporting events leverage us to stream content and enable analytics in a heartbeat to better engage viewers. As the pioneer of data streaming, we are humbled and amazed by the possibilities realized for companies as they modernize their data architecture and move up the data streaming maturity curve. It is almost impossible to name an industry that cannot benefit from the technology.
The future of data streaming is expected to see several key trends and predictions. Firstly, there is a shift from “digital transformation” to “data transformation.” Data is now recognized as a crucial asset, and organizations are focusing on making data shareable, processed through streaming rather than batch processing, and easily accessible through self-service capabilities. This shift enables teams to concentrate on delivering business value rather than managing infrastructure.
Furthermore, treating data as a first-class citizen is crucial for maximizing its potential. This means treating data as a valuable product that is consistently available and used across the organization. Governance and tracking data lineage are essential for maintaining data quality and ensuring its accessibility.
Trust is another critical aspect of data streaming. Establishing trust in data is vital, and organizations are working towards building the infrastructure required to ensure data is trusted and broadly accessible. Trusting platforms for streaming governance play a key role in achieving this.
Legacy data pipelines are struggling to handle real-time data demands. As businesses require both real-time and historical data, traditional pipelines face challenges such as lack of real-time capabilities, centralization, inadequate governance, and inflexibility. Building better pipelines is necessary to alleviate these issues and free up time for higher-level work.
Finally, there is a growing recognition that time is a valuable asset, and businesses should focus on driving innovation rather than managing infrastructure. By leveraging data streaming and reducing the burden of pipeline management, organizations can unlock the true potential of their data and gain a competitive edge.
DQ: Can you elaborate on Confluent’s cloud-native approach to data streaming?
Rubal Sahni: Deploying software on cloud infrastructure isn’t the same as building software for the cloud. At Confluent, we reimagined the Kafka experience for the cloud – a serverless offering with elastic scaling capabilities, infinite storage, 99.99% availability and flexible networking. We are a fully managed, truly cloud-native kafka service with reduced TCO, allowing customers to focus on their core objectives.
But we don’t stop at Kafka. Our connector ecosystem enables seamless integration with various data sources and destinations, making it easy for customers to tap into their diverse data ecosystem. Alongside, we provide a comprehensive set of tools which empower developers to build streaming data pipelines rapidly, reliably, and securely.
We prioritize being wherever our customers need us to be, seamlessly connecting data and applications across different environments. Our cloud-first approach ensures interoperability among systems, applications, and data stores. By leveraging a serverless model, our service is cost-effective, easily deployable within minutes, and efficiently managed end-to-end. We take care of security updates and ensure a secure setup, relieving customers of any upgrade concerns. Moreover, our cloud design fosters a pay-as-you-go experience, allowing customers to optimize their costs based on their usage.
DQ: What were the key findings of the Confluent survey on data streaming for India?
Rubal Sahni: Data Streaming Drives Business Value and Strong ROI: 78% of IT leaders reported that their organizations are experiencing significant or emerging benefits from data streaming. These include faster strategic decision-making and improved customer acquisition and retention. Additionally, 80% of organizations reported a faster time-to-market for their products or services.
Data Streaming Is a Top Priority for IT Investments: 95% of respondents consider investments in data streaming to be important, with 62% indicating data streaming as a top strategic priority for their overall IT investments. Furthermore, 71% of IT leaders use data streaming to power critical applications, and 61% stated that five or more of their organization’s critical systems rely on data streaming technology.
Data Streaming’s Biggest Challenges: The first is the existence of silos and fragmented projects, along with uncoordinated teams and budgets. 72% of IT leaders identified this as a challenge or a significant hurdle to advancing data streaming within their organizations. The second is the lack of relevant skills, expertise, and experience, which was cited by 78% of IT leaders.
Focus on Training and Recruitment for Skill Enhancement: Respondents recognized the need for enhancing skills related to data streaming. 95% identified training and recruitment to bolster skills as a high or medium priority over the next 12 months.
The Confluent survey conducted in India indicates that data streaming has the potential to generate business value and deliver a substantial return on investment. A significant majority of organizations regard data streaming as a top priority for their IT investments. However, to fully harness the benefits of data streaming, it is crucial to tackle challenges such as silos, fragmented projects, and skill gaps. Recognizing the significance of skill enhancement, organizations emphasize the importance of training and recruitment in this domain. They also plan to increase their investment in data streaming to maintain competitiveness in the market.