As lives become increasingly interconnected via the Internet, there is a vast pool of data generated with each interaction. This information, obtained via Facebook, tweets, music streaming and random Web searches, is mined by companies for new ways to reach the consumer – and tailor their products to suit the individual's needs.
Whether searching for the best travel deals, monitoring health, playing video games or calling a cab, technology is shaping the world around us. The perpetual stream of so-called "big data" is processed in real time, and lends insight to the mundane activities of every day life.
It's also worth an increasing amount of money that will be worth more than $41 billion in three years, according to estimates from the International Data Corporation. That amount is placing the onus on companies to make better judgments about what to do with the information they collect.
"We believe companies should have access to data and make smart decisions about their customers," says Neha Narkhede in an interview with CNBC.
Narkhede, along with Jay Kreps and Jun Rao, formed the Confluent software company. The trio met as former software engineers at LinkedIn, created an open-source solution called Apache Kafka in 2010, which enhances software that manages lives streams of data from websites, applications and sensors.
"Think of Kafka as an engine of a car," says Kreps. "Most people don't want an engine, they want a whole car, but for businesses to use the engine, they need training to drive the car."