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Data streaming more important than data alone as businesses eye ROI gains

Richard Timperlake Profile picture for user Richard Timperlake May 25, 2023
Data alone isn't enough - Richard Timperlake shares the findings from Confluent's latest report on the value of data streaming.

Big data and cybersecurity. Data stream. Global database and artificial intelligence. Bright, colorful background with bokeh effec © Yurchanka Siarhei - Shutterstock
( © Yurchanka Siarhei - Shutterstock)

Real-time data streaming has become the cornerstone of the digital economy. With data volumes rocketing ever skywards, businesses are now acutely aware that their success or failure depends on their ability to operate, react and respond at speed. Or in other words, today’s most successful organizations are those that are the fastest at turning data into action.

Of course, it hasn’t always been that way. Until relatively recently, it was data itself that was deemed to provide a competitive advantage. Today, though, forward-thinking businesses realise that it is data streaming that is now pivotal to success.

More than four in ten IT leaders (44%) are using data streaming to improve cybersecurity, while 43% are using it to enable more effective IT monitoring and management. Beyond keeping systems safe, data streaming is also driving more innovation, with 36% using it to create rich customer experiences and 36% for data-driven business decisions and opportunities.

These are just some of the stand-out insights from Confluent’s new 2023 Data Streaming Report: Moving Up the Maturity Curve, published in May 2023, which taps into the experience of 2,250 IT leaders from enterprises in seven countries, including the US and UK.

What’s clear is that data streaming has become critical — because it drives business value and a return on investment (ROI) that is impossible to ignore.

Data streaming drives strong ROI

According to the report, data streaming ROI grows as the adoption and breadth of activity becomes more widespread and integrated.

For example, 64% of companies at the early stages of their data streaming journey said they are achieving — or expect to achieve — 2x to 5x ROI. A similar proportion (63%) of businesses that already have several data streaming projects underway report between 5x to 10x ROI.

What’s apparent is an unequivocal correlation between data streaming and ROI in what’s described in the report as the Data Streaming Maturity Curve. And that’s crucial because the curve charts how data streaming can tackle business challenges head-on by delivering greater efficiencies across an organization.

Data streaming — a top priority for IT spending

According to the survey, 76% of IT leaders are already seeing significant — or emerging — benefits of data streaming in terms of increased business and IT efficiency. More than seven in ten (73%) also reported that it led to increased profit.

How they achieve those bottom line results speaks volumes for the versatility of data streaming and the way it’s used to deliver results.

For example, financial services companies are using data streaming for fraud detection, manufacturing industries for up-to-the-minute inventory management, and retailers to provide a unified customer experience.

And when it comes to prioritising investment, financial services (FinServ) is leading the charge with 93% of IT leaders citing data streaming as one of their top strategic priorities or a key area of investment, closely followed by technology (92%) and construction industries (90%).

But there are challenges too — not least in terms of a fragmented approach to projects and a shortfall in people with the right skills to make data streaming a reality.

When pressed, 74% of IT leaders said that fragmented projects and uncoordinated teams and budgets can impede data streaming plans. While 87% said training and recruitment to bolster skills is a priority as they continue to invest in data streaming over the next 12 months.

Actionable advice for those starting their data streaming journey

What emerges time and time again from the report is how data streaming is being used by companies and how it delivers results.

For those businesses and organizations beginning their data streaming journey, the advice is simple. Start small but with an end goal in mind.

According to the report, it’s important to build on the excitement of early adopters and embrace their enthusiasm for data streaming. One way to do this is to build a community around data streaming — one that opens doors to training programmes, certifications, and peers outside your company.

Being able to articulate data streaming’s business value early on will help build a bench of executive champions.

For those already wedded to the idea of data streaming, the goal is the roll-out of a data streaming platform that acts as a central nervous system across your entire business. Not only does it deliver significant ROI, it allows organizations to react, respond, and process their information in real time, making data a product that is discoverable, trustworthy, secure and accessible.

Download your copy of 2023 Data Streaming Report: Moving Up the Maturity Curve.

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