Data in Motion Offers the Winning Formula — in Sport and Business

By Fred Crehan, Area Vice President, Emerging Markets, Confluent.

When you’re watching Formula 1 drivers speeding around the track at Silverstone or Monaco, data is probably one of the last things to come to mind. However, without it, not even the best drivers in the very best cars would make it down the home straight in first place.

In fact, a huge amount of every Formula 1 race revolves around data. From lap times and engine performance, to tyre wear and driver fatigue — the driving teams need all of this information at their disposal to give them the best chance at sneaking an advantage over their opponents. Of course, this can be big changes made from lessons learned in the previous race, but more often, it’s the smaller in-race changes that make all the difference.

The systems to gather this data are available now — they have been for years. However, while collecting, processing and analysing data is relatively straightforward, the challenge comes when you need to do that in real-time to make those reactive in-race tweaks count.

Just imagine how F1 teams need to have confidence that race data is completely free of errors across the whole process — from the compilation and analysis to the transmission. Or coaches in football and rugby being confident that the GPS tracker under player’s shirts are up to date so they can make decisions based on facts about fitness levels and performance.

And that is where the notion of data in motion comes into play. Teams of all shapes and sizes, as well as businesses, need 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. Ultimately, data needs to flow efficiently and effectively between all modern and heritage applications.

The base line

Putting it simply, many businesses get their data via traditional batch systems, which typically run nightly to process the data accumulated throughout the day. For a connected business attempting to stay up to date, safe and in line with its competition can’t wait for daily batch cycles to analyse and react to data. It needs to offer a well-integrated experience for its customers that siloed applications and databases simply can’t offer.

Data in motion works entirely differently. Instead of passively storing data to access later, it allows for real-time, always-on, available-now data in any system as soon as it is generated.

Such real-time data flow and processing is important because it is the foundation of so much — whether you’re managing the success of an F1 team or just using modern digital services, to book a taxi or access online banking.

Operating as a whole

Another way of thinking about it is to consider the central nervous system in any living thing. While our bodies all have independent parts that function alone, the nervous system ties them all together to operate as a coherent whole that can react and respond intelligently in real time.

Data in motion creates the “nervous system” in any business, enabling the kinds of customer experience and intelligent operational systems that are required to stay relevant and competitive in the world today. The real-time continuous processing that it offers gives businesses the ability to react and respond immediately, so they can offer the kind of service that their customers expect.

There’s also an organisational benefit to be had from using data in motion. Let’s look back to sport again and to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to see how. Such a big event comes with plenty of organisational complexities, but with 1.5 million visitors — half of the country’s population —expected in the Gulf State over the competition’s duration, it will require a whole set of different capabilities and technologies to keep the experience a good one.

It'll place new requirements on the country’s infrastructure, security and systems that it won’t be used to, which could otherwise be a recipe for disaster. But by using data in motion, the event organisers can plan the event with assurance that it will run smoothly.

This includes having the data to prevent bottlenecks and overcrowding, hiring the right amount of stadium security to keep the event secure, knowing when to lay on additional mass transport at busy times, and being able to offer efficient ticketing. It doesn’t just mean organisation at the event either — they also need to ensure fans have somewhere to stay and that food supply chains remain fully stocked for the duration. All of this requires data.

Of course, these things aren’t a one-time data piece either. They all need to be managed in a real-time, ongoing manner during the tournament to ensure organisational success. When you need data fast to keep a business or event running smoothly, data in motion offers the winning formula no matter the situation.

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