The demands and expectations of customers today are very real. Just take the fact that ordering a taxi through an app is now the preferred option to calling or hailing a cab. Buying online has transformed how we shop, and gone are the days when we stood in a line for the bank.
These changes have been triggered by the digital-first paradigm we now live in. The issue comes with how well brands can successfully transition themselves to match these customer expectations and stay competitive. The prize is clear. Gartner states that customer experience drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming price and brand combined, and The World Economic Forum suggests that the value of digital transformation could be as high as $100 trillion over the next decade.
What we have to remember is that businesses will only truly match the expectations of this modern consumer by delivering a frictionless experience every time. And that relies on data, or more specifically, real-time data and automation. But where do businesses and enterprises even start when it comes to looking at how to get real-time data and insights to feed that instant connection customers want from brands? Here are four critical factors you need to understand.
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The value of legacy systems
Traditional data centers with mainframes or aging architectures are struggling to support the demands of modern business, including providing the scale and speed required to meet new customer and regulatory demands. Often, these legacy architectures have significant constraints, preventing businesses from scaling quickly across geographies or ensuring services are flexible and agile enough to cope with changes.
However, one key thing to remember is that many legacy systems and the data centers hosting the infrastructure supporting these systems have had many years of investment and are often core to supporting critical business processes. The legacy cannot simply be dismissed. A rip and replace, or complete modernization is often not an option, as many organizations embarking on these initiatives have discovered. Any transformation impacting core systems that have been around for many years is incredibly risky, with potential for significant downtime or even data loss. In fact, research from Micro Focus found nearly half (45 percent) of enterprises ripping and replacing their application software were dissatisfied with the result.
Investing and modernizing, not ripping and replacing
Instead of adopting a rip and replace approach when it comes to the technology running the business, enterprises should utilize what they already have and retain the core elements of existing architecture. They should look to the route of IT modernization to ensure they can continuously transform the business over a period of time. While conducting this IT modernization, it is vital that they take the step of adding a data layer to allow the unrestricted flow of data across the business.
Creating a data platform work working with data in motion
What businesses do need is a new way to handle data – one that supports collecting a continuous flow of data from across the business, between apps, databases, SaaS layers and cloud providers. They need something that links modern services and valuable legacy ones together in real-time without impacting aging infrastructure. Ultimately, data needs to flow efficiently and effectively between modern and heritage applications.
In a similar way to the central nervous system in the body, digital processes must be able to rely on a data in motion platform to handle the multitude of different operations happening in different places and geographies. There should be no need to remove legacy technology simply because it works in a different way to cloud-based offerings.
Yet currently, for most businesses, data remains stuck in static databases - systems designed to handle data at rest and not data in motion. Implementing a platform and layer to allow data to move fluidly will link all data points together in real-time, no matter where it resides in an organization’s IT infrastructure – from the cloud to on-premise environments. This will enable businesses to cut across infrastructure silos, allowing systems to continually react, respond and adapt to an ever-evolving business in real-time.
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As we head fast into 2022, businesses and enterprises now understand they have no choice when it comes to ensuring they respond to changing customer expectations, and they cannot afford to risk lagging behind. It’s a make-or-break situation and this means having to innovate and automate. However, this doesn’t mean starting from scratch, it means using what you have as the foundation, and then modernizing with a platform and layer that allows you to move data around freely in real-time.
Take the retail industry for example. As a business, you would want to ensure you provide customers who are searching or buying on your website, with the right personalized item suggestions at the right time automatically. This requires a real-time view of inventory that spans stores and distribution centers and has full visibility into the status of every order, in rich feedback loops of powerful recommendations, which requires data to move freely.
It is exactly that kind of real-time view that Confluent customer Boden required when it needed to respond in real-time after the Duchess of Cambridge was spotted wearing one of its dresses. It had to ensure it could respond rapidly to increased interest and a potential surge in demand, and fortunately, it had the infrastructure required to do it.
Right now, time is of the essence for brands and enterprises to stay ahead of their competition, sustain customer loyalty and generate revenue. And a core part of achieving this success is driving that IT modernization forward with the central nervous system at its core.
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Lyndon Hedderly, director of customer solutions, Confluent