by Thor Olavsrud

DataStax sets sights on customer experience

News Analysis
Mar 20, 2017
AnalyticsBig DataData Mining

With companies increasingly making customer experience projects top priorities, DataStax is marshaling its resources in a move to help its customers build the data infrastructures to support them.

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Enterprises are increasingly seeing the need for their data to generate real-time, contextually aware insights in milliseconds or even microseconds — providing personalized responsiveness every time a customer taps a screen, changes lanes in a car and so on.

Responding to this need to support what it describes as the “right-now economy,” DataStax, a specialist in database software for cloud applications built on the open source foundations of Apache Cassandra and Apache TinkerPop, last week announced its adoption of a comprehensive strategy to help enterprises design and implement Customer Experience (CX) applications.

While organizations have been recognizing the need for CX initiatives, which include customer 360 projects, for some time, they’ve proved difficult to implement, says Billy Bosworth, CEO of DataStax. Bosworth says that the data infrastructures required to provide these real-time, contextually aware insights have been siloed in various functions or stuck in legacy technology that can’t meet availability and performance needs. A new data infrastructure that breaks down the data silos and cuts through the technical limitations of legacy database technologies is required.

Customers want great service and they want it ‘now’

“People expect great service in the moment of ‘right now’ and they are demanding a seamlessly integrated experience in both their personal and business interactions,” Bosworth says. “With our new strategy and solutions, we are providing a data management layer built specifically to meet those demands, and also showing enterprises the best way to design and use that data in all of their CX projects.”

According to a soon-to-be-published Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper commissioned by DataStax, Forrester found the following:

  • 75 percent of executives consider improving CX through personalization to be a top or high priority.
  • 85 percent of executives say gaining a competitive edge by better understanding customers is a top or high priority.
  • 83 percent of executives believe using data better to make CX decisions is a top or high priority.
  • 64 percent of executives cited an inability to gain real-time value from customer data as a barrier to implementing an effective CX solution.

“This survey affirms both the importance of CX initiatives to enterprises and the extreme difficulty many of them are facing with data challenges in their CX projects,” Bosworth says.

Mix in consulting and training

Bosworth says the company’s DataStax Enterprise data platform as key to helping customers get their arms around CX initiatives — it released an update, DataStax Enterprise 5.1, just last week — but believes consulting services and expert training must be part of the mix.

“If you get that first foundational step wrong as you build your data architecture, everything down the road gets more difficult,” Bosworth says. “We have done some of the largest real0time data management systems in the world with our experts. Our consultation and training is aimed, in a prescriptive manner, at helping you build the correct architecture in the right way — not just to build your first project, but to very quickly build subsequent projects.”

Bosworth believes this support will help organizations sidestep the common mistakes that companies make over and over again. Many organizations, he says, believe that what has worked for them in the past will work for them in the future, that their CX projects can rely on the way they’ve always thought about data modeling and data workloads, just maybe a little faster.

“That is a big problem,” he says. “This problem requires you to pivot to a new digital DNA that thinks in terms of scale out, highly distributed, very real-time in nature, but designed with this always-on concept in mind.”

DataStax calls its combination of consulting and training with the DataStax Enterprise data platform the DataStax CX Data Solution. It says that by aligning its data technology with CX application design expertise, DataStax customers can accelerate their time-to-market while reducing risk and increasing the flexibility of their CX initiatives.

Cloud scalability and analytics

Meanwhile, the new version of DataStax Enterprise focuses on making cloud applications easier to scale. DataStax says it offers three times faster operational analytics over applications that rely on Apache Cassandra and Apache Spark without the DataStax Enterprise component. It also offers simplified management for multi-tenant software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and a unified development environment for DataStax Enterprise Graph and Apache Cassandra.

“Cloud applications present a whole new set of challenges that organizations must meet in order to be successful,” Robin Schumacher, senior vice president and chief product officer, DataStax, said in a statement last week. “The need to be contextual, personalized and always-on with real-time responsiveness for a distributed user base can be tough requirements to meet. DataStax Enterprise 5.1 is designed to make it simpler for anyone to build applications that are always-on, deliver effortless scale and are driven by real-time, data-driven moments that users demand.”

DataStax Enterprise 5.1 enhancements include the following:

  • Three times increase in read performance in DataStax Enterprise and Spark for analytical queries, improving Spark interactive/ad hoc use cases.
  • Simplified and tighter integration for mixed workloads including expanded capabilities of the new distributed file system made available in v5.0: DataStax Enterprise File System (DSEFS) is distributed, scalable, fault tolerant with no single point of failure and fully compatible with HDFS, for operational database support.
  • Production certified Spark 2.0 providing customers with trusted and enhanced operational analytics for production systems.
  • Row-Level Access Control (RLAC) providing granular security management for Cassandra making it easy to protect sensitive data and greatly reduces management overhead and development time for multi-tenancy deployments.
  • Production certification for Solr 6.0, including faster search as well as simplified search development and management.
  • Simplified developer coding and accuracy validation in DSE Graph with new fluent API, improved graph analytics via integration with Spark GraphFrames, full DSE Search integration, and improved monitoring and tuning of DSE Graph within DataStax OpsCenter.
  • Production certified Apache Cassandra 3.11.1.