The world of business moves in real time—data should too

Real-time data streaming and processing provide the key insights businesses need to answer today’s most pressing questions.

Data storage has long been the key focus for IT leaders. But in this real-time era, companies need to move beyond storage and ensure they have the right infrastructures to handle data in motion—not just data at rest. This shift is crucial for data-driven enterprises to gather the immediate insights needed to deliver the rich, digital experiences today’s customers have come to expect.

“Having the right data, in the right place, at the right time is becoming increasingly critical to making smart business decisions,” explains Chad Verbowski, senior vice president of engineering for leading data streaming platform provider Confluent.

By 2025, worldwide data usage is expected to spike to a staggering 61% to reach 175 zettabytes of information, according to market research firm International Data Corporation—most of which will reside in the cloud. But relying on the cloud and distributed systems often leaves stored data scattered, and processing that information can take days or even weeks. Similarly, older systems like traditional databases work on batches, where data is collected over a periods of hours or days and then analyzed. But, businesses now require these answers in seconds—as the data arrives.

Real-time data streams allow businesses to manage data as it’s received, so that teams can take immediate, meaningful action on insights. Today, data-streaming technology powers more than 80% of Fortune 100 companies. Many of those companies rely on Confluent’s full-scale data-streaming platform to integrate historical and new data into one central source of information. For instance, retail stores use platforms like Confluent’s to offer customers the speedy modern experience they expect across online and in-person transactions. Confluent provides behind-the-scenes technology to help retailers with complex data-analytics needs, allowing businesses to optimize inventories, staffing levels, and workflows to maximize productivity and performance. Financial institutions are also leveraging these tools to see where consumers are spending and determine which products and services most resonate with them, plus maximizing cash flows on the back end.

“It’s about reducing complexity and speeding up the delivery of relevant information,” says Verbowski. “We reduce background steps, simplify firms’ abilities to get access to answers, and ensure that companies have the insights they need to adapt and evolve right when they need them.”

What to know about data streaming platforms

Confluent’s cloud-native platform further helps companies avoid data challenges by connecting apps, networks, and systems by linking real-time data flows and processing at scale. Organizations can push data where it’s needed, on-demand, and deliver more contextualized, personalized experiences. After all, within a data streaming platform, reliability and accuracy are paramount for ensuring businesses operate effectively—this requires “exactly once semantics” (ensuring each message is delivered precisely once), 99.99%+ availability, and automatic scaling to handle extreme spikes in traffic.

“In the real world, things change unexpectedly; humans make mistakes, and infrastructure breaks down,” says Verbowski. “As a business, between software environment and equipment-related concerns, it’s a very difficult problem to guarantee all critical data was received and processed by your business exactly once. It’s vitally important to guarantee that this information isn’t lost and is processed in a predictable and timely manner. But doing so is often challenging and expensive.”

While data streaming technology helps address business’ real-time data needs, not all data streaming technology is the same, Verbowski notes. He advises organizations to think about how they can simplify their IT infrastructures, minimize the need for manual maintenance and upkeep, and employ solutions to deliver insights and information with a minimum of difficulty and action steps.

“Going forward, businesses need to be able to react to problems and opportunities quickly—and have access to the insights needed to do so on-demand,” notes Verbowski. “Confluent really serves as a central nervous system for collecting information from different places and leveraging it, so you’re able to make faster decisions and avoid flying blind.”

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