The art of unlocking data: Kinetica's go-to-market story

Advanced technology company shares how it's exploring the art of the possible when it comes to streaming data

One of the challenges of bringing any advanced technology to market is that it can sometimes be ahead of customers’ ability to use it. That problem is further compounded when the technology is capable of solving problems clients are not yet aware they have.

This has certainly been the case for Kinetica, the 10-year-old US-based maker of a distributed in-memory database management system using graphics processing units to process and analyse billions of rows of data in microseconds.

Kinetica was first adopted by the US military for intelligence operations, and then by the US Postal Service in 2014. Since then, the company’s technology has been implemented by global companies including Porsche and DellEMC, as well as the programmatic ad delivery service, PubMatic.

But with so much capability in the platform, clients can sometimes struggle to imagine how it can be effectively wielded to its full benefit.

“Two years ago, we had a thesis and a technology that had broad applicability to a lot of different industries as they were coming to terms with treating data as an asset and unlocking the value of that data,” says Kinetica’s Australian-born CEO, Paul Appleby. “And it turned out we were 100 per cent correct.

“The tough news is when the art of the possible is so broad, where do you start? That is something I’ve been really focused on.”

Appleby and his team are working with customers to help them identify significant projects they can take on today that will deliver rapid benefits, as a starting point for longer-term engagements.

“We’ve gone into Citigroup in a pretty big way, and as the commercial relationship has unfolded, the company has found 15 large projects teams want to deploy,” Appleby says. “But what we have done is build an engagement to focus on the first two or three and help them prioritise the other 15.”

Another project with a large telecommunications provider commenced with the use of the platform to optimise its 5G network deployment.

“That evolved really quickly to investigating how are they going to monetise that network once it’s built, because it unlocks a whole new series of products and services they could never have delivered before.”

Appleby says this type of implementation is typical of many of Kinetica’s current projects, which start with a test case based on a known problem and then evolve to tackle more speculative ideas.

“Once we prove the value of the tech with the first use case or two, then we suddenly have a flood of use cases coming in, because things they never dreamt were possible are now possible,” Appleby says. “So the art of the possible becomes a big factor.”

One example is Kinetica’s work with the Indonesian conglomerate, Lippo, which owns 30 shopping malls and related assets with a value of more than S$1.8 billion. The company is using the Kinetica platform to ingest streaming data on customer behaviour and locations to power a next-best-offer loyalty program called OVO. Appleby says Lippo has been able to subsequently evolve OVO to become Indonesia’s largest digital payments program.

“We are driving those next best offers in real time based on the location and the event that just occurred,” he says “Now Lippo has gone one step further, and taken this really well-established data platform and set up smart vending machines everywhere. The whole idea of the vending machine is not so much to sell and distribute products, but to test new products and test market reactions and even push products to people.

“Lippo is also leveraging this data platform for a more effective distribution of its FMCG products.”

Appleby says projects such as this demonstrate the power of the Kinetica platform, as they require the ability to ingest and interpret huge volumes of data at high speed in ways that traditional CRM tools are unable to. He says these capabilities are essential for large organisations that wish to gain a true ‘360’ appreciation of their customers.

“That data can’t go into a swamp - we are talking about perishable data,” he says. “When you are disintermediated from the customer, or have mega scale, if you are going to drive customer intimacy you need to be able to ingest that data, interpret that data, learn from it, and respond dynamically.”

For marketers, Appleby says once they begin to embrace what is possible for their organisations and how they use data, they can begin to imagine what is possible for their own careers.

“The CMO has an incredibly important role to play in the digital transformation journey of the company,” Appleby says. “And if they are going to do that, they have to have a data strategy that not only transforms customer engagement, but looks for ways to leverage data to create entirely new products and services.”

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