A conversation with Conor O’Neill about high-performance data architecture

Conor O’Neill, Chief Product Officer at NearForm, recently spoke to the IT Directors Forum in the UK on how a high-performing data architecture can drive overall business performance and value – and what characteristics that architecture most needs. 

Below is a synopsis of the interview.

Data Performance in Organisational Digital Transofrmation

  • The philosophy of embracing performance can be applied to people, processes, and technology. It goes far beyond just code.
  • This philosophy is gaining importance because of the digitalisation across all industries that is transforming the way we manufacture, learn, communicate, work and do business as well as the role of data as a driver of growth.
  • Performance must be at the top of the list in any digital transformation, much like security.

Importance of a high-performing data architecture

  • Businesses can’t be high-performing unless their data architecture is.
  • Data needs to be fast and available to whoever needs it whenever they need it.
  • You should be able to access the data you need immediately and always.

Examples of Data Performance

Improving processes

  • We helped a company turn a commonly-executed business process from a 45 minute task into a 5 minute task.
  • This required everyone involved, both client-side and NearForm side, to agree that this performance metric was the focus.
  • Eventhough all the data the workflow used was computerised a combination of legacy issues and processes contributed to the time-intensity of the task.

Shopping Experience

  • Offering a personalised experience at checkout on modern shopping websites requires pulling in data from various systems.
  • Integrating that data becomes complex if those systems have come into your organisation through companies you’ve acquired, separate business units, or outside partners.
  • The data coming in from all these different sources may be wildly different based on numerous factors.
  • The complexity of getting all the data you need can be a nightmare to implement and cause serious strain on your systems even if the end product appears slick and personalised.
  • Tools like GraphQL help to take out that complexity by wrapping up all of the different APIs and systems and delivering only the data required at a given moment.
  • This makes it much easier for the whole team, including front-end developers, to deliver an excellent and consistent customer experience
  • Fast data delivers a faster experience.

big data

Moving from Big Data to Fast Data

  • In data architecture the move to fast data is happening because it’s all about performance.
  • For example Condé Nast International had both a big data and fast data problem within their data architecture.
  • Focusing on speed and performance helped us realise the best solution.
  • We migrated decades of content from multiple territories into a single CMS in a timely way.
  • This allowed for rapid and accurate transition of the content
  • The solution we developed together allowed them to achieve this much faster and with 99.9% accuracy.
  • This sped up the entire modernisation.
  • Their goal was to deliver their content across devices in a more consistent and reliable manner.
  • The better, high-performance data-architecture translated to more agility.

High-performance Data Architecture and Business Goals

  • A high-performance data architecture unleashes new business opportunities.
  • First, you need the data with context in order to give it value.
  • A high-performance data architecture can help you visualise new concepts for your business as well as new products for customers.
  • In Banking, PSD2 requirements are causing many organisations to modernise access to their customer data.
  • This is creating new ways to acquire customers as well as new services they can offer.
  • Customers want personalisation and speed.
  • The speed part of the equation relies on data that is available in context and real time.
  • A high-performance data architecture is capable of delivering that speed and differentiates the best applications from the rest of the pack

Better-performing data architecture: how to get there

  • Make sure data is understandable to those who are using it.
  • Use visualisations.
  • Know your audience.
  • Understand that simple user experiences are hard to deliver.

Importance of Data Visualisations

  • Data Visualisations that are transformative can be viral.
  • The ability to show actionable insights and value will spread throughout your organisation.

Conor O’Neill is Chief Product Officer at NearForm and is responsible for all productization activities and works closely with NearForm’s Open Source and R&D teams to evolve the web platform. Some of the projects he has responsibility for in NearForm are Clinic.js and the NodeConf EU Digital badge.

Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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