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We have fully transitioned into a remote, hyper-connected society, in which consumers expect services to be digital, instant and frictionless. As part of the new rules of this “now economy,” customer tolerance for latency is extremely low. Any page load that takes longer than usual can result in lost business.
When approaching applications in a world where milliseconds matter, data — more particularly, efficiently managing said data — is the lifeblood of success. Over the decades, digital transformation efforts have left us with several different solutions to data management, including a range of different data models and technologies. In this day and age, in order to stay afloat, organizations need to prioritize data management to ensure data responsiveness is 24-7 and without hiccups.
How consumer expectations have changed the way we manage data
High-value business goals are the driving force behind changes in data infrastructure and responsiveness. While IT-related service level concerns, such as security and availability, are certainly factors in a data management scenario, they rarely prompt transformative efforts. Undoubtedly, the most significant leaps in data management for an organization are seen in projects that positively impact customer and employee relationships.
From a data management perspective, being “customer-centric” is all about delivering lower latency, faster application response times and access to data in near-real-time. Digital transformation is no longer a “nice to have.” Competitive pressure to continuously deliver needed functionality faster, better and cheaper hasn’t changed – in fact, it has been the only consistent KPI objective for IT departments for decades. And the pandemic exposed just how weak the digital backbone was for many companies.
We have predominantly acclimated to a remote-first world: the days of customers needing to do something in-person without a digital option are numbered.
The great decoupling: Liberating data from siloed systems of record
As enterprises expanded their digital services to stay competitive and relevant in today’s “now economy,” IT infrastructure turned into a “spaghetti mix” of applications, APIs and Systems of Record (SoR), all entangled by constraints and dependencies. Adding any new service to this mix requires an ever-growing patchwork of contingencies and time-consuming integration efforts, preventing enterprises from quickly responding to evolving market needs with new digital services. This is a real impediment to innovation and a challenge that enterprises must overcome in order to truly realize their digital transformation vision.
One approach for untangling this messy mix and simplifying the process to scale up digital offerings is by decoupling applications from their respective SoR. Removing this barrier simplifies the process of integrating new digital services to the existing IT architecture, dramatically shortening the launch cycles of new services. This, in turn, enables enterprises to rapidly introduce new real-time mobile services to their customers, meeting and even exceeding their expectations.
Enterprises sit on an untapped goldmine of siloed data. Whether customer data or internal operational data, much of it is stored in disparate databases or SoR, placed either on-prem or on the cloud. Each application is being constantly fed with data that runs its own specific functionalities. As a result, executives lack a unified, holistic view of all of their data. In a sense, data is locked within the boundaries of the applications that were designed to consume it, even while it can be immensely valuable to other systems throughout the enterprise IT infrastructure.
By decoupling applications from SoR and incorporating a digital integration hub, enterprises can liberate their own data from siloed databases and obtain a unified, 360-degree view of their customer, as well as operational and business data. This is the very foundation for delivering an omnichannel experience and creating multiple, fully personalized, customer touchpoints.
Data responsiveness: Preparing for the next wave of data demands
The appetite for new digital services is projected to increase with the introduction of new protocols such as 5G. This growing demand will increase data traffic as well as customer expectations for application performance. The evolution in customer demand won’t be limited to mobile, as a surge of new IoT devices and sensors will be introduced to the commercial market both as stand-alone gadgets and embedded in other devices. This, in turn, will add to the complexity of managing all this data and avoiding service breakdowns.
As enterprises look ahead and plan for this expected surge in digital demand and need for data responsiveness, they should ask themselves some tough questions. Is their current IT architecture prepared to support a massive scale-up of digital services? Are they making effective use of their development and data architect teams in creating innovative new services that drive real value to both customers and to the business? Or are they spending too much time on repetitive data integration tasks? Lastly, are they really leveraging all the data that their organization gathered over the years, or is it just sitting in a siloed database?
Adi Paz is the CEO of GigaSpaces.