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By Thomas Been, DataStax
By Thomas Been, DataStax
Winning enterprises take data, process it, and use it to deliver in-the-moment experiences to customers. Starbucks, Netflix, The Home Depot, and countless other organizations large and small have built great success based on this understanding. But what does that success look like, and what are the challenges faced by organizations that use real-time data?
Released today, The State of the Data Race 2022 is a summary of important new research based on an in-depth survey of more than 500 technology leaders and practitioners across a variety of industries about their data strategies. The survey was developed to explore how organizations use real-time data – the data that powers in-the-moment use cases such as recommendations, personalization, always-up-to-date inventory, and logistics. The results show that real-time data pays off in some very important ways: higher revenue growth and increased developer productivity.
Let’s take a closer look at three surprising findings that surfaced in the report.
Real-time data drives revenue growth
Speed is everything when it comes to staying competitive. Fortunately, technology has evolved to the point where it can support the need for speed – now companies of all sizes have the ability to build data architectures that can leverage data for powerful, in-the-moment user experiences.
And, according to the survey results, that’s exactly what they are doing – and they’re driving real results with it.
When looking specifically at responses from the top users of real-time data – organizations that excel at leveraging data to create new products and revenue streams – there is a strong strategic focus on real-time data. More than half of these organizations (52%) say their corporate strategy is focused on building organization-wide value with real-time data.
Of these organizations, 42% say that real-time data has a “transformative impact” on revenue growth. But perhaps even more significant is a finding that applies to all the organizations involved in the survey (not just the data leaders); it shows a strong correlation between building a real-time data strategy and revenue growth. Overall, 71% of all respondents agree (either completely or somewhat) that they can tie their revenue growth directly to real-time data.
In other words, an organization-wide focus on leveraging real-time data is a proven path to accelerate revenue growth.
To quote Greg Sly, senior vice president of infrastructure and platform services at Verizon: “Real-time data is air. If you don’t have real-time data, you’re back in 1985.”
Developer productivity improves with access to real-time data
There’s another significant advantage that real-time data brings to the organizations that make it a priority: it helps developers, the people responsible for building instantaneous experiences, do their jobs better.
When asked how the use of real-time data has impacted developers’ jobs, a majority (66%) of real-time-data-focused organizations agree that developer productivity has improved.
It should come as no surprise that developers are the ones with the tightest relationship with real-time data. The largest percentage of all organizations (27%) agreed that developer teams were the groups that worked most extensively with real-time data (this percentage was just a bit higher at 32%, for organizations that hold real-time data as core to their strategy).
Coupled with the finding that developer teams are the ones who work the most with real-time data, the importance of ensuring that developers have fast and ready access to real-time data becomes particularly significant. For these teams, it’s all about ease of building and time to market. The complexity and siloed technologies that plague many organizations’ data estates can be a serious detriment; developers shouldn’t have to grapple with figuring out where the data they need resides, or how to access it. This is particularly important in light of how real-time data impacts how developers get work done.
Yet it’s not just about enabling access to the data. It’s also about reorienting how organizations operateto make developers more productive.
Compared to organizations with less aggressive commitments to real-time data, those who have an organization-wide strategy for creating value with it are more likely to:
Have clear product owners (43% versus 32%)
Have business unit accountability of data (42% versus 30%)
Have line-of-business staff, developers, and data scientists working together in cross-functional teams (45% versus 32%)
This organizational pattern lines up every role behind one overarching goal on the way to creating value: shipping an application.
Until an application ships, all the good ideas in the world won’t impact the customer experience – or the bottom line. Organizations that make a strategic commitment to creating value with real-time data are making the changes that focus attention, align incentives, and drive prioritization around the fact that everyone will sink, or swim together based on developers’ productivity.
Real-time data challenges are organizational
Across all the organizations polled in the survey, the top three challenges they face when trying to leverage real-time data are complexity, costs, and accessibility (39%, 32%, and 30%, respectively, identified these as their top hurdles).
These hurdles stem in part from the fact that over time, many enterprises have invested in a variety of point technology solutions, resulting in data that’s locked in a variety of silos across the organization, making it difficult and often costly for developers to access the data they need to build applications.
These particular challenges, however, don’t rank as highly for data leaders. And the reason why has a lot to do with the progress these organizations have made in building real-time data architectures. The top issue for the most accomplished real-time data organizations is the availability of the necessary skills in their business units to leverage real-time data. The largest percentage (35%) identify this as their leading challenge.
This finding indicates the successful trail data leaders have blazed with their real-time data architectures. They’ve built the technology foundation to successfully leverage real-time data, and now they’re working on the next step. They understand that the right place to focus on building data products and the revenue they generate isn’t in IT, it’s within the business units.
Everyone can get real
The findings in The State of the Data Race 2022 reinforce the fact that the value of apps that use data to drive smart actions in real time is tangible and measurable in dollars and cents. The technology is ready, waiting, and openly available for organizations of all sizes. At DataStax we’ve worked to remove the barriers to mobilizing real-time data by offering an open data stack that enables enterprises to quickly build the smart, highly scalable applications required to be a data-driven business.
An organization’s commitment, imagination, and drive are all that’s needed to join the ranks of companies that leverage real-time data for revenue growth and productivity.
Thomas leads marketing at DataStax. He has helped businesses transform with data and technology for more than 20 years, in sales and marketing leadership roles at Sybase (acquired by SAP), TIBCO, and Druva.