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What are Data Platforms?

4 November 2022      
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What are Data Platforms?

Every day, the world produces 5 exabytes of data*. In slightly more digestible terms that’s 2.5 billion gigabytes. By 2025, that figure is set to reach 463 exabytes per day.

In theory, this data can be used to improve services, build new products, and drive commercial efficiency - but that’s easier said than done. As a result, organisations are currently awash with data without the ability to organise or analyse it.

Data platforms gather all that information in one place. Making it easy to unlock the valuable insights that big data can provide.

Why is data such a big deal?

Modern businesses thrive off data. It helps them better understand customers, highlight the strengths and weaknesses of processes, and recognise changing market conditions.

When businesses have full visibility of their data, they’re able to make informed decisions about:

  • Where to find new customers
  • How to increase customer retention
  • Effectiveness of marketing campaigns
  • What’s impacting sales trends
  • How to improve customer service
  • How they can innovate more effectively

However, data management is complex, resource-intensive and time-consuming. Especially when faced with challenges like unifying disparate data types housed in various silos, third-party data sources and on-premise servers.

What are data platforms?

A modern data platform unleashes the collective power of multiple data sources, driving greater efficiencies, lower costs, and a wealth of actionable insight.

Replacing the traditional model of discrete databases - which each collect data from a different source for a different purpose - a data platform seamlessly integrates all sources for analysis and helps build a 3-dimensional picture of how your organisation operates.

While there are purpose-built applications that manage one or two aspects of the data puzzle effectively, a true data platform provides end-to-end data management. These cloud-based solutions can store and analyse huge volumes of information that range from transaction data to geotags.

Watch our Data Platforms Jargon Buster video

How do they work?

Data platforms connect to a range of sources and channels by using built-in connectors, SDKs, webhooks, and APIs. They ingest and integrate from multiple locations including real-time interaction data (behavioural and transactional), campaign data, product data, and customer support data.

At this point, data platforms built for user engagement purposes - known as customer data platforms (CDPs) - organise the information to create unified customer profiles. Those profiles are enriched with second and third-party data sources to fill in missing attributes and the latest information available. CDPs might also incorporate journey orchestration to help marketers analyse interactions throughout the entire customer journey - helping them deliver the right messages at the right time on the right channels.

More advanced data platforms can even be used to train machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) software for predictive analytics, audience segmentation, and other deep learning tasks.

Types of data in a data platform

By getting to know the different types of data, your organisation can make the most of the information available to it.

Structured and unstructured

Data platforms allow businesses to combine structured (highly organised and typically quantitative) with unstructured data (usually qualitative and difficult to deconstruct and analyse). That means structured data from your CRM can be evaluated alongside unstructured data such as text, video and audio files, mobile activity, social media posts, and satellite imagery. If analysed correctly, this level of detail provides a deeper understanding of customer behaviour and intent.

First-party

This refers to data that your organisation has collected directly from your audience (customer feedback surveys, CRM data, and marketing campaign data). First-party data is especially valuable because you know exactly how, when, where, and why you collected it. That’s important when it comes to evaluating data accuracy.

First-party data typically makes up the bulk of what data platforms use to function. Data platforms will utilise first-party information in a process called customer data integration which combines information and identifiers from your separate databases into a more digestible form for greater analysis.

Second-party

This is data that your company didn’t collect itself. It's shared between trusted partners who rely on each other’s audience insights when it’s mutually beneficial.

Third-party

Third-party data is information that companies purchase rather than collect. Organisations that don’t have the in-house resources to acquire their own use third-party data to bolster advertising and retargeting campaigns.

Elements of a data platform

Migrating to a data platform often involves a review of your existing infrastructure. As data platforms are cloud-native, the process might involve uncoupling legacy dependencies and finding a more suitable storage solution. Often, that will either be a data lake or a data warehouse designed to flex and scale according to your needs and objectives.

Data Warehouse

This is a structured and non-volatile single source of data truth for an organisation. Once data is added, it can’t be changed or deleted. That’s why these repositories of structured data are used to store valuable customer, sales, and employee data.

As your business grows and the need to work with unstructured data increases, it can be difficult to incorporate that kind of “difficult to deconstruct” information into your warehouse - that’s where data lakes come into play.

Data Lake

These storage solutions organise and accept large volumes of structured and unstructured data in their initial format. When the right sources are identified, data can be replicated into a data lake with little to no structural, organisational, or formatting changes.

Machine learning and data science can tap directly into this raw data to identify new understanding about your business and customer base.

The benefits of using a data platform

Data platforms bring your data sources together into a single repository. They’re great for enabling data access, governance, delivery, and security.

Declutter your data

By keeping your company and customer information in one place, data platforms allow you to eliminate any replicated data. This will make your data more organised and easier to read for analysts and end users.

Clearer insights

Data platforms provide you with high-quality, organised data that can be used to generate valuable insights. They harness real-time analytics, data visualisation, and dashboards to uncover new revenue opportunities, improve customer experiences, and drive efficiency across your organisation.

More effective personalisation

Providing a tailored experience to your customers leads to deeper engagement. The most practical way to achieve this is through organised, accessible data.

Increased efficiency and agility

Data platforms unify data sources to form a comprehensive 360-degree view of the information your business has to offer. With data platforms, you can continue to develop a future-proof tech stack that adapts to changing market demands.

Data protection and privacy

With the ongoing threat of data breaches, building and maintaining user trust has never been more important. Data platforms centralise data and create up-to-date customer profiles that are available in real-time. This keeps information secure and makes it easier to carry out audits.

Why choose Nasstar?

Our team of experts can design and build platforms that bring all your siloed data together into an easy-to-navigate repository. Nasstar’s data platforms provide storage, governance, and security - and they’re optimised for cloud environments.

With over 10 years of experience deploying transformative AWS and Azure projects, whatever the stage of your journey we’ll help you unlock a wealth of actionable insights.

Find out more about data platforms at Nasstar,

or speak to one of our experts today.

*Accenture