In 2020, businesses were challenged more than ever, with one of the primary lessons being that digitization and cloud adoption are now critical to their survival. Organizations have discovered that to quickly adapt, they must set up old and new systems to be able to react in real-time to changing conditions and exceptional events.
Amidst all of the digital transformation initiatives being undertaken in retail, travel, hospitality, and manufacturing, to name a few, event streaming and management should hold a firm place in their digitization efforts. Event-driven architectures allow companies to share information in real-time and connect diverse systems, devices and people around the world.
In fact, Gartner predicted back in 2018 that by 2022 event notifications will play a key role in over 60% of new digital business solutions and more than 50% of business organizations will participate in event-driven digital business ecosystems. Event streaming is becoming a vital component of business growth and adaptability: Here’s why.
Seamlessly share information across the enterprise
Few things are more important to those who handle and use data in an organization than that data being able to flow freely. Event-driven architectures are invaluable in this sense, as they make it easier to share information across organizations and their ecosystem of partners, in real-time. Companies see fewer siloes and get access to the information they need.
Accessing this data in non event-driven environments often puts additional load on systems, and employees have to spend time on things like creating query offloading databases or other CQRS approaches. These efforts towards increasing data access manually also result in additional costs. And even then, the data is not easily available in real-time as it changes, while developers need to know which systems provide what data and how they can query for them. The larger the organization, the more difficult this is, yet the biggest organizations are ones that reap the most value by easily sharing information. In fact, by sharing data, organizations inherently increase its value.
With event streaming, any changes to the data are automatically distributed to those systems and people that expressed interest in that event, without them having to go out of their way to specifically request it.
Here’s an example. One of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic is air travel. Airlines and airports stand to benefit hugely from the data sharing enabled by event streaming, especially as they continue on their path to recovery after the initial shock of the pandemic. Let’s say the data from boarding pass scanning, i.e. which passengers have had their passes scanned and when, could be available to the airline. Cabin crew could use this to identify when their most loyal customers are about to board and have a welcome gift ready for them, further increasing brand loyalty on the part of that customer.
Another example comes in the realm of HR. Event-driven data sharing could help HR team leaders automatically distribute new employees’ data to all of the necessary systems, such as Slack, ServiceNow, Gmail, and Workday. This strategy of “update in one place, distribute to many” saves huge amounts of time that would otherwise be spent creating all of those accounts individually.
In the first scenario, the airline boosts customer satisfaction. And in the second, the HR team is able to drive efficiency and cut down manual processes: Both key elements of business growth and adaptability going forward.
Data delivered in real-time
Event streaming and management platforms enable information to be delivered in real-time, unlocking teams’ abilities to put the data to use as soon as necessary. Whether it’s data around customers, inventory, ERP, the supply chain, manufacturing quality – real-time data access allows companies to push their operations to new levels of efficiency. All of this data comes in as the event occurs, as opposed to waiting for the end-of-day batch to transfer or for mechanisms like ETL from databases.
When deciding which systems should be event-enabled first, companies should think about their “golden information” – that which people need access to in order to drive innovation, the most important or sought after data in your business. This is the information that should be coming in in real-time.
Going back to the air travel example, real-time data access can enable unprecedented efficiencies. Airlines can monitor the passenger loading rate using events generated when boarding passes are scanned and use this to boost efficiencies elsewhere. ML algorithms receiving the passenger boarding events can then predict the departure rate and issue a new event to other systems to inform them of a new departure time if takeoff will be delayed. This has a number of downstream benefits: Airlines can re-book a new departure time to minimize delay and wasted fuel that would be used up with the airplane sat on the tarmac, the baggage schedule can be updated so baggage management teams are reallocated, and the arrival time is re-calculated so connection flights can be re-booked in advance.
Connect everything, everywhere
The pandemic laid bare the need for increased connectivity, especially in sectors such as supply chain, which faced more challenging conditions than ever before (who can forget the great toilet paper shortage of March 2020?) Whatever the organization, if it has a dispersed network of stakeholders, which could be factories, restaurants, points of service, or fleets of vehicles, it’s vital for these different nodes of the chain to be connected to each other.
Event streaming and management platforms allow for a new level of connectivity between all actors. Event-driven architecture means that organizations don’t just “get” data when they request it, they are “given” it when a change occurs. This means that teams can see all of the relevant events as they happen, which might include information they weren’t originally seeking out.
Let’s look at an example scenario from the retail sector. Many companies in this industry don’t have access to real-time data across their network and are often unable to efficiently line up their supply chain. Because of this, a delivery truck might show up too early and no one is there to receive it as the warehouse or store was unaware as to the vehicle’s location, or if it arrives late, the crew might end up waiting idle to unload it while they could be doing something else.
Down the line, this lack of connectivity would cause delays, extra costs, and unhappy customers – something unacceptable for companies dealing with the current business climate. And the need for this is imminent: This SAP & Oxford Economics 2020 survey found that fewer than half of the supply chain leaders surveyed are able to capture real-time data insights and act on them immediately, and highlights the importance of end-to-end visibility.
Ultimately, the larger the organization, the more it stands to benefit from event-driven architectures. However, that’s not to say that small to medium sized businesses won’t see dramatic improvements in their operations and customer experience by adopting an event streaming platform.
An event portal, which provides the event management component of the platform, can help organizations see all of their event streaming activity in one single place. This will become integral for companies going forward as they leverage event streaming to power further digital transformation across multiple channels, and to manage their real-time insights.
Leveraging event streaming for business growth and adaptability will be essential for any organization looking to thrive – rather than simply survive – the business ecosystem of tomorrow.
About the Author
Shawn McAllister, Chief Technology Officer & Chief Product Officer at Solace, is responsible for the strategy and delivery of the Solace PubSub+ Event Streaming and Management Platform. He leads a team of incredibly talented engineers and architects in this endeavor. McAllister has worked with many of our clients to help them adopt an event-driven architecture and to learn first-hand their needs as input to the innovation built into the PubSub+ Platform. He has participated in the definition of various OASIS messaging protocol standards, including MQTT 3.1.1, MQTT 5.0, and AMQP1.0.
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