86% of IT leaders say data streaming is a priority for IT investment in 2024

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: 86% of IT leaders say data streaming is a priority for IT investment in 2024.

Confluent, Inc. has unveiled its 2024 Data Streaming Report: Breaking Down the Barriers to Business Agility & Innovation.

The report dives into how organisations use data streaming to innovate, accelerate AI adoption, improve business agility, power customer experiences, and overcome data accessibility and management challenges. Based on a survey of 4,110 IT leaders across 12 countries, the report shows the pivotal role data streaming plays in helping businesses maximise the full potential of their data.

Responsiveness is the key to success in today’s dynamic business landscape - slow, inconsistent, outdated, or ungoverned data is detrimental to success because it’s unreliable and can lead to bad decision-making. It's imperative to leverage continuously streaming data to discover customer learnings, improve business operations, and find insights so organisations can act efficiently and quickly. In fact, 86% of respondents cite data streaming as a strategic or important priority in IT investments this year.

“Many organisations have data siloed away in different systems and applications, making it impossible to find and benefit from one of their most critical business assets - their data,” said Shaun Clowes, Chief Product Officer at Confluent. “Data streaming acts as the central nervous system for businesses by connecting systems and applications so real-time data can be easily accessed for decision making and improving business processes and customer experiences.”

Key takeaways from the report include:

Data Streaming Platforms Power Faster AI Adoption 

GenAI is top of mind for many companies, but for AI models to generate accurate and relevant results, the data must be trustworthy, in the right format, and as real-time as possible. Retrieval augmented generation (RAG) has emerged as a common pattern for building GenAI-enabled applications by connecting general-purpose LLM models to domain-specific data while allowing granular access controls and minimising hallucinations.

Data streaming enriches RAG-enabled workloads with trustworthy and contextual data by tapping into a continuous stream of real-time data from systems that power the business. Data streaming can efficiently transform data into the right format to be used by vector databases for AI applications. 

  • 74% state investments in GenAI will trend up in the coming two years.
  • 63% cite data streaming platforms extensively or significantly fuel AI progress by building the real-time data foundation needed to propel these initiatives. 
  • 90% note data streaming platforms keep track of data fed into models for governance purposes.

Data Streaming Simplifies the Development of Data Products and Encourages Reusability and Cost Savings

As organisations look to broaden and simplify data access and reusability, more are thinking about organising their data into data products. Data products are live, refined, fully governed, and ready-to-use data assets that are instantly discoverable, contextualised, trustworthy, and reusable for many use cases. Data products allow organisations to reuse data across a variety of use cases to save costs and time.

  • 91% of IT leaders are investing in data streaming platforms to drive their data goals, which include data product creation.
  • 72% cite significant benefits from embracing a data product approach. 
  • Notable benefits of data products are:
    • 98% cite data products as compelling or worthwhile in enabling more confident data sharing across business units.
    • 91% note more meaningful cost allocation or charging based on usage metrics.
    • 90% state more robust risk management. 

Data Streaming Platforms Prevent Data Silos and Solve Data Accessibility Challenges

Tackling data access and management challenges head-on is crucial for businesses to maximise success in a data-driven world. The 2024 Data Streaming Report shows that data streaming platforms help organisations address many data accessibility challenges, including uncovering siloed data, that hinder real-time, data-driven operations. As the central nervous system for businesses, data streaming platforms connect applications and systems to ensure data is available in real-time, everywhere it’s needed. This allows companies to focus on accelerating innovation instead of navigating the maze of point-to-point connections. 

  • 76% of IT leaders cite five or more data-related challenges impacting their organisations, including siloed data and governance-related problems. 
  • The most common problems data streaming can solve include:
    • 93% say data streaming helps break down data silos in most or many situations
    • 88% note data streaming helps to access existing data 
    • 86% cite data streaming helps discover existing data
    • 84% state data streaming helps address governance-related problems

Data Streaming Delivers Significant Benefits for Business Investments

As businesses learn to do more with less, proving the ROI of tech investments has become even more critical. This report shows that data streaming pays off across every industry and that organisations of all sizes are achieving value, despite limited resources. 

  • 84% of IT leaders cite 2x to 10x return on data streaming investments.
  • 95% stated that data streaming improved or is expected to improve cybersecurity and data-driven operations.
  • 90% improved or expected to improve product and service innovation when using AI/ML.

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