Data powers your business, but to turn data into your superpower, you need to inject, analyze, and draw on the right data at the right time. Ideally, you want it all in real-time. Let’s explore what makes real-time data sharing so challenging, and better, let’s consider the individual elements of a real-time data sharing solution that can overcome legacy challenges.
Once your organization and IT architecture reach a certain size, your data lives in multiple places across multiple departments, organizations, applications, geographies, and even clouds. Not only do these “canyons” need to be crossed to bring data together, but once you start combining data from different sources, the data needs to be evaluated and processed. You must ensure it’s in the right format for the next step (and the next, next step) in your processes. You also need to resolve any conflicting information in the data.
Historically, to process data most cost-efficiently, data has been processed in batches. But the longer these batches are queued, and the more infrequently APIs push data from one side of a canyon to the other, the more outdated the data is upon arrival. Real-time data sharing closes this time gap. But getting all the right pieces moving at the right time, in a coordinated fashion, and while still being cost-effective…that’s a challenge that’s been hard to solve.
But solving for real-time data sharing across canyons is not impossible.
As its most basic characteristic, a real-time data sharing solution feeds your application with data that is always up to date and in agreement with your disparate systems—no matter where the source data exists. The APIs and data storage elements need to come together in a synchronized, timely fashion to deliver the right data at the right time to all data consumption endpoints.
However, on top of the traffic controlling elements, an effective real-time solution should not be a black box without visibility and transparency to what takes or has taken place. That means data changes and updates should be logged with the ability to view and review. The system needs to be able to manage access levels for any application, entity, or person who needs to be able to read or write the data within the system. In other words, the solution needs to offer transparency, visibility, and control.
In short, a real-time data sharing solution needs to be:
- Capable of orchestrating data delivery promptly across disparate entities
- Transparent and logging changes as they happen
- Controlling who has access to what, when, and how
Those are the essential pieces of a real-time data sharing solution. But an enterprise-grade solution demands more.
An ideal real-time data-sharing solution must simultaneously offer the following elements as table stakes:
Company data lives in a multitude of places as every department tends to have its specialized system of record (think ERP or CRM). It’s common for each system to store data in different clouds or geographies. For the data to be most valuable or to unlock new data drivers, the data will need to pool into a single location as a single source of truth (SSOT). This is a relatively easy problem to solve within your company, where most SaaS offerings offer various integrations in the form of API pipelines sending data back and forth.
Here’s where it can get complicated:
- You need the data in real-time: While many SaaS platforms offer integrations, you’re still at the mercy of their speed and data volume limitations. That affects performance, timing, and, thus, the value of your data.
- The data exists in different clouds, geographies, and across different companies: Not all SaaS platforms make it easy to integrate data across organizations owned by different entities since it requires another level of coordination, orchestration, security, and transparency.
If both real-time and sharing across multiple companies are important to you, you need to pay close attention when evaluating your solution, as few vendors offer the ability to do both.
As you evaluate real-time data sharing solutions for your enterprise, make sure you select one that has a cloud-native design. With cloud-native design, you get better, more cost-effective performance.
With the advances in cloud computing (e.g., serverless computing), the performance and scale of cloud platforms usually far outweigh anything you or a vendor can build in-house. In addition, you will want to make sure the architecture is event-based, fault-tolerant, and automatically scales to meet demand. You also want to avoid designing around peak requirements (and keeping the architecture there at all times, even when it’s not needed). Most of these benefits come with cloud-native solutions, but you should check to be sure since they’ll substantially impact performance, utilization, cost, and the environment.
Requirements to protect data and user information are increasing in complexity and will continue on the same trendline. Any solution that shares or stores data will need to be set up to meet existing and future requirements, especially when sharing data across organizations. You can look for the obvious check boxes (.e.g, SOC2 and PII compliance and documentation around how General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is followed). But you should also evaluate the ability to set up fine-grained access controls for specific users and what data can be accessed by whom. This control includes ensuring the solution has built the necessary monitoring, reporting, and managing capabilities to ensure ongoing compliance across certification and regulatory frameworks.
Ideally, your data sharing solution vendor should handle anything your company or regulating bodies require for compliance. But they should do so in a way that doesn’t expand your company’s infrastructure footprint. Otherwise, you’ll incur direct and indirect costs (and staffing bloat). Make compliance the vendor’s problem, not yours.
If you are looking for a performant real-time data sharing solution, you must think of data storage and transition in unison. Most systems use some combination of the many API and database offerings, but the best systems take a more holistic approach. It is not enough to just share data: Your solution needs to be able to share and store an unlimited amount of information for an unlimited amount of time—and it needs to do so for multiple types of data and files.
When multiple organizations contribute to the data stored, you will also need to ensure the system keeps a log of all data changes, including what new data was shared and stored, and what it replaced when.
Real-time data sharing solutions apply to many scenarios, but the most value is unlocked when multiple businesses partner in a value chain. When multi-party data sharing happens, organizations come together in a data alliance and share their pieces of a treasure map with other alliance members in a deliberate, controlled manner.
In a data alliance, when every member brings a piece of a treasure map, all the data comes together in one place. Partners get the full data picture and can identify new opportunities they’d never have uncovered on their own. From new revenue streams to process optimizations and cost savings, canyon-spanning solutions open up new possibilities.
The foundation for a successful data alliance is a single, shared source of truth (that treasure map, if you will). Every partner can access the map and contribute new data to it. And, as in any good collaboration, partners will be able to trust the single source of truth.
Vendia has made it easy to create and manage data alliances with multiple partners. Our real-time data sharing solution, Vendia Share, is built on an enterprise-grade blockchain as a data exchange platform that gives every partner in your permission network access. Vendia Share delivers a single source of truth that is secure and transparent by design.
The platform gives every participant an access point (a node) to read, write, and view every transaction, data point, or file made available to them by other data alliance partners. You can even travel back in time and transparently audit past data (even if it’s been updated since). As new data is stored, it’s replicated at high speed for everyone to see in real time, and the built-in consensus mechanism ensures the data is accurate by resolving potential conflicts. The platform scales up and down to meet demand from alliance partners. It’s built in the cloud and based on fault-tolerant serverless technology with built-in security and privacy management and zero infrastructure maintenance. That way, data alliances can focus on the benefits of exchanging data and let Vendia manage the data sharing and storage infrastructure.
Do you work closely with business partners where your customers or business could benefit from securely exchanging data in real time? Do you wish you had a live view of your value chain from start to end? Are you looking to learn more about what real-time data sharing solutions are out there?