Thought Leadership

Building Real-time Infrastructure: Best Practices

How to lay the foundations for effective real-time engagement 

Engaging customers with hyper-targeted interactions in real time is not a new priority for businesses. In fact, 90% of leaders now recognize the importance of using real-time insights to guide real-time decisions. But, just how many businesses are doing real time right? 

In theory, connecting with customers at the right time sounds achievable. Yet, in reality, doing so is a challenge that few companies manage successfully. Often, you’ll find poorly defined objectives at the root of these inefficiencies.  


Defining your real-time interaction objectives 

For me, an organization’s real-time interaction goals should sit within a roadmap that can be navigated one use case at a time. Implementing real-time infrastructure is not an overnight process, and it’s only once you’ve identified your highest value use cases that you can get started.  

In the context of insurance, a high-value use case could be the ability to target travel insurance customers with relevant communications, such as policy updates, as soon as they’ve reached their destination. By doing so, insurance providers can improve the customer’s overall experience and even encourage them to purchase policy add-ons throughout their trip.  

Once you’ve identified commercial outcomes like this for your organization, you can begin to develop the infrastructure needed to realize them. 



Overcoming the limitations of your current data ecosystem 

You probably already have an existing data landscape that a new solution, such as a customer data platform (CDP), will need to integrate into. To meet the needs of your real-time data project, you’ll first need to address the limitations of your current solution.  

Let’s look at an example. Perhaps you’ve got an execution channel, whether it’s a mail delivery service or marketing automation system, that can only report on customer feedback to messages at an audience level. To deliver meaningful interactions in real time, being able to measure engagement on an individual basis is a must. 

Ultimately, the key to building out an infrastructure for effective real-time marketing is to adapt your current system gradually. By implementing valuable use cases one by one, you can develop a solution that evolves as your project does. 


Building out your real-time data infrastructure  

When it comes to analyzing the limitations of your current marketing system and implementing the infrastructure you need for real-time success, there are multiple factors to consider. 

First, you’ll need to identify the data sets that hold real value for your business use cases and determine how to source them in real time. In some circumstances, reusing customer insights may be helpful. Nevertheless, you’ll also want to develop a solution that enables you to integrate new data sources on the fly. 

Prioritizing real-time data processing capabilities is also imperative. Of course, not all data sources provide real-time updates. However, where it’s needed for your specific use case, being able to aggregate incoming data in real time is crucial to delivering communications based on customers’ individual needs. 

Bear in mind that customer interactions must be contextually relevant, and this doesn’t always mean conversing in real time. Here, intelligent decision-making capabilities are needed to determine when, where and how outbound communications are most relevant to get maximum engagement.  

If inbound communication is required, based on a customer’s historic and current insights, rapid response times of 50-150 milliseconds are expected. Nevertheless, trigger-based outbound communications don’t always need to be delivered immediately. Due to the asynchronous nature of such communications, some delays are acceptable.  

The key to orchestrating meaningful inbound and outbound communications is knowing what your customer needs and when, remembering to always focus on the individual for mutually beneficial relationships.  

Ultimately, the key to building out an infrastructure for effective real-time marketing is to adapt your current system gradually. By implementing valuable use cases one by one, you can develop a solution that evolves as your project does.   

Navigating real-time challenges with the Intelligent Engagement Platform 

I see many organizations struggle to navigate data silos when delivering real-time interactions. The challenge is to access, analyze and act on customer data efficiently while trying to connect multiple processes and platforms.  

With a customer data platform as advanced as NGDATA’s Intelligent Engagement Platform, marketers can build out an infrastructure that allows them to implement use cases, gain real commercial value, and scale up their real-time marketing capabilities.   

By integrating our Intelligent Engagement Platform into your existing data ecosystem, you can decouple your data collection from your decision-making functionalities and determine the next best action at exactly the right time, based on an always evolving Customer DNA™.   

To learn more about implementing the infrastructure you need to achieve your real-time engagement goals, check out our white paper, video series and handy checklist developed in partnership with the Customer Data Platform Institute’s David Raab.  

Alternatively, get in touch to further discuss how NGDATA’s Intelligent Engagement Platform combines historical and current insights to guide personalized interactions in real time. 

Read our white paper ‘Real-time Done Right: From Customer Insight to Customer Engagement’

Learn more on our ‘Real-time Interaction Management’ page