By Chet Kapoor, Chairman and CEO, DataStax\n\nThere is no doubt that this decade will see more data produced than ever before.\n\nBut what\u2019s truly going to transform our lives, define the trajectory of each of our organizations, and reshape industries is not the massive volume of data. It\u2019s the unmatched degree to which this data can now be activated in applications that drive action in real time: minute by minute (or even second by second), across work, play, and commerce. Where technology might have been a constraint in the past, it\u2019s now an enabler.\n\nHere, we\u2019ll take a look at why real-time apps are no longer just the domain of internet giants and discuss three ways that your organization can move toward delivering real-time data.\n\nThe future is here\n\nIDC predicts that by next year there will be more than 500 million new cloud native digital apps and services \u2013 more than the total created over the past 40 years.\n\nWe\u2019re already living in this future. We get turn-by-turn driving directions while listening to an AI-recommended playlist, and then arrive at the exact time our e-commerce order is brought to us curbside \u2013 along with a cup of hot coffee.\n\nThe real-time data powering apps that change industries is no longer just offered by a Google or a Spotify.\n\nCompanies like Target excel at it. The retailer delights customers with an app that shows users what they most want to see, ensures no one ever misses a deal, has a near-perfect record of intelligent substitutions for out-of-stock items, and gets users their orders on their terms (and it might just include a drink from Starbucks, another enterprise that is a real-time app powerhouse).\n\nSmaller businesses are making real-time data core to their offerings, too. Ryzeo offers a marketing platform that leverages real-time data generated by events on its clients\u2019 e-commerce websites. An item that a shopper views or searches for instantly results in an AI-driven recommendation through its \u201csuggested items.\u201d Real-time data \u2013 and the technology that supports it \u2013 is how Ryzeo makes this happen. \n\nInaction isn\u2019t an option\n\nThe door is open to you and your organization, too.\n\nThe best-of-breed technologies that power winning real-time apps are open source and available as a service, on demand to all. There are tons of proven use cases across industries. When you leverage these use cases and technologies, there\u2019s a big payoff \u2013 you increase your organization\u2019s ability to innovate and turn data into delightful customer experiences.\n\nThis will not only transform how your business grows, but how your business works.\n\nAs consumers, we never want to go back to dumb apps that evolve slowly, don\u2019t know our context, and fail to act intelligently on our behalf. In fact, we desire the opposite.\n\nWhen you put the customer's digital experience at the center of agile workflows, make fast decisions, and rapidly iterate, you create a powerful feedback loop. Every win shows the power of a new and more fulfilling way of working. So does every failure \u2013 by providing valuable learnings.\n\nThe one thing you can count on is that inaction is not an option. And at this moment in time, why would we want to wait?\n\nThere is no doubt that real time data can reduce waste, increase safety, help the environment, make people happier and healthier. And we\u2019re only just getting started.\n\nSo how do you get started? You can make three important choices right now to set your organization on a path to excel at delivering real-time data.\n\nStep 1: Pick up the right tools\n\nThe technology to deliver outstanding, data-powered, real-time experiences has arrived \u2013 and we\u2019ve got it in spades. The best of breed tools are open source. They grew out of the \u201cbest of the internet\u201d to solve novel problems about scale and data velocity. Apache Cassandra\u00ae, for example, was developed at Facebook to manage massive amounts of messaging data.\n\nJoining the open source ecosystem means you don\u2019t have to reinvent the wheel. This is important because what sets your organization\u2019s real-time data experiences apart won\u2019t be the infrastructure. It\u2019ll be how you put your domain knowledge to use in new ways that delight your users.\n\nMost of these technologies are available on demand as-a-service to everyone. If you didn\u2019t add them to your data infrastructure yesterday, do it today.\n\nStep 2: Assemble the right teams\n\nWhen every company is a software company, every executive must also be a software executive. This includes your line of business owners, general managers, and functional leaders.\n\nWinning companies reorganize team structures and accountability to match. The days of data scientists experimenting alone in an ivory tower and developers working under requirements that were \u201cthrown over the wall\u201d to IT are over. \u201cThe business\u201d can no longer think of data and technology as \u201cIT\u2019s problem.\u201d\n\nAll of your employees need to be trained to identify and capitalize on opportunities for using data and technology to drive business results. Your line of business owners must be held accountable for making it happen.\n\nTo empower them, assign your developers, data scientists, and technical product managers to cross-functional teams working side-by-side with their business domain colleagues that own customer experiences. This is a ticket out of \u201cpilot purgatory\u201d and a key to democratizing innovation across your company.\n\nStep 3: Ask the right questions\n\nAs you advance on your journey, more and more smart systems will be working every minute of every day to answer your industry\u2019s key questions, like \u201cwhat\u2019s the most compelling personalized offer for this customer?\u201d or \u201cwhat\u2019s the optimal inventory for each store location?\u201d\n\nWhat those systems can\u2019t do is ask questions that only humans can, such as \u201chow do we want to evolve our relationship with our customers?\u201d Or \u201chow can we deploy our digital capabilities in ways that differentiate us from our competitors?\u201d\n\nNo algorithm is going to kick out the brilliant and empathetic idea to \u201cShow Us Your Tarzhay,\u201d which turned what might have otherwise been the unfortunate necessity of having to shop on a limited budget into the opportunity to celebrate and share a distinctive personal style. Similarly, it took human creativity to expand the concept from clothing into a new category (groceries).\n\nIf you take the first two steps listed above, you will start to free up your people\u2019s time to ask creative questions and improve their ability to deliver on the answers using best-of-breed technology. Equip, challenge, and inspire them to think big about where you want to take your customers next, and you\u2019ll get your organization moving in the right direction to provide the benefits of real-time data to your customers.\n\nLearn more about DataStax here.\n\n About Chet Kapoor:\n\nChet is Chairman and CEO of DataStax. He is a proven leader and innovator in the tech industry with more than 20 years in leadership at innovative software and cloud companies, including Google, IBM, BEA Systems, WebMethods, and NeXT. As Chairman and CEO of Apigee, he led company-wide initiatives to build Apigee into a leading technology provider for digital business. Google (Apigee) is the cross-cloud API management platform that operates in a multi- and hybrid-cloud world. Chet successfully took Apigee public before the company was acquired by Google in 2016. Chet earned his B.S. in engineering from Arizona State University.