How Amazon Kinesis can help you leverage real-time data

Kinesis is a suite of tools that makes it easy to capture, process and analyze real-time streaming data

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This contributed piece has been edited and approved by Network World editors

The more real-time data about customers, processes or competitors you can capture and analyze, the better you’ll be able to react quickly to important events.  Amazon Kinesis is a cloud tool we really like because you can use it to leverage your business’ real-time data without having to worry about having enough storage and server capacity to process all of that data.

Amazon Kinesis is a suite of tools from Amazon Web Services that makes it easy for companies to capture, process and analyze real-time streaming data. Kinesis has three components:

  1. Kinesis Firehose allows you to load streaming data into other AWS components, such as S3 (Simple Storage Service), Redshift (data warehouse), or Elasticsearch Service
  2. Kinesis Streams lets you build custom applications that process and analyze real-time streaming data for specialized needs
  3. Kinesis Analytics facilitates SQL queries on streaming data

Kinesis’ tools allow you to process data in near-real time, the throughput of data streams can be dynamically adjusted, and like other AWS services, there are no upfront or setup costs involved.

Kinesis can be used in many business scenarios where real-time data is involved.  For one of our clients we used Kinesis to collect data on attendee locations at events.  Tracking attendees’ movements through an event is helpful for both event planners and sponsors.

Event planners collect attendee location data via beacons to understand the traffic flow throughout the event building, and can use this information to reroute attendees and alter layouts to avoid bottlenecks and traffic jams.

Booth sponsors want attendees to stop by so they can interact with them and provide information about products and services.  A data-driven analysis of how many attendees walked by, at what times, and how long they hung out in various locations will help sponsors calculate sponsorship ROI and plan for future events.

Amazon Kinesis Firehose can help collect the massive amount of data that events generate.  In this case, we captured attendees’ location data with beacons and sent it to Kinesis Firehose. Firehose continually loads the data directly into Amazon Redshift so our client can analyze it and quickly provide clients with insights.

amazon kinesis firehose Amazon

Amazon Kinesis Firehose

An e-commerce website can also use Kinesis to analyze visitors’ actions, such as product views, page clicks, and purchases, to better understand customer behavior. Amazon Kinesis Streams allows you to build custom applications to facilitate this.

For instance, if you run an online sporting goods store, you can use Kinesis Streams to create a recommendation engine that serves up product suggestions that are similar or related to what a visitor is viewing at the moment. So if someone browses football cleats, your site can suggest a football on sale.

Also, the behavior data that you collect in real time can help continuously improve your recommendation algorithm to generate better product suggestions over time. These kinds of analyses can lead to increased conversion rates and revenue growth.

You can also leverage Kinesis Analytics to analyze all of this streaming data you collect for your business.

Let’s say that you run a food processing business. There is so much data you need to collect - customer information, shipping data, machine uptime statistics, transportation and logistics data, and much more -- and it’s likely that the data lives in siloes and separate databases, making it difficult to wrangle.

In this case, you can use Kinesis Firehose or Streams to capture and process the data and then run standard SQL queries against these data streams using Kinesis Analytics.

You can then take it a step further and deliver this data to other analytics and monitoring tools to create alerts for when product goes out the door, machines break down, or a new customer has been acquired.

Kinesis has made it much easier to leverage data, especially real-time data, to make faster, more informed decisions. This will help you better serve your customers, ensure uptime of your equipment, improve your sales, and grow your business.

Chan is the Chief Marketing Officer of Thorn Technologies, an AWS-certified cloud computing and software development firm.  Thorn excels in the development of cloud architectures, cloud migrations, location-based content management systems, data warehouse and analytics systems, real-time alerting and messaging systems, bulk SMS and MMS marketing platforms, and mobile applications and websites.

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