Big data has emerged as a big trend over the last several years, but as an area it has remained ill-defined and focused for the most part on data scientists, while ignoring business users. Adatao wants to change that by offering a solution that has something for both parties and a collaboration environment that lets them work together in one tool -and they got $13M in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from Lightspeed Ventures and Bloomberg Beta to give it a shot.
As part of the deal, Peter Levine from Andreessen Horowitz will sit on the Adatao board and Marc Andreessen will be a board advisor.
Adatao CEO and co-founder Christopher Nguyen says Adatao is actually made up of two tools, one for the geeks and one for the regular people who just want information. The geek layer is called pAnalytics and is built on Apache Spark. It’s designed to be a comfortable working environment for data scientists and engineers, who can work in familiar tools such R, Python, SQL and Java.
The whole idea in the analytics layer is to provide an API where data scientists and engineers can work with the data and build applications on top of the data that expose it to the business users in a more friendly way. Once business folks have access to this data, they can make better use of it and build charts and graphs on the fly in real time to suit their needs.
To that end, the business layer called pInsights lets end users query the data using natural language queries. What’s more, the system learns from the data what types of data users are likely to ask about, and even learns as users query to provide an as you type drop-down capability with likely queries as you would get in Google search as you enter a search term.
Nguyen reports when he demoed this for the first time at Andreessen Horowitz, Marc Andreessen got so excited about it, he stopped the demo and pointed out just how significant it was. He called it Facebook search for big data. Ultimately his company backed them.
What’s more, Nguyen said they pulled these two layers together into a collaboration environment that includes word processing and communications tools, allowing collaboration between the two layers in real time. Business users can ask the data scientists questions within this environment creating a true collaborative layer. What’s more, they can save reports providing a full service system that doesn’t require anyone to use a third party tool to do their work.
Peter Levine from Andreessen Horowitz points out that we are in the very early days of big data, but people are out there working with it today. They are just looking for better tools. “This is a huge new market with lots of opportunity right now,” Levine told me.
He added, “There are a lot of companies using [big data tools], but we are in the early innings, not at the top of maturity curve and there is a lot of interesting innovation, a lot of projects to build on top of that,” he said.
He says the key is to find ways to make use of the data in real time in a business context and he believes that’s what Adatao is doing. The next step says Levine is surfacing information you don’t know you have, the Holy Grail of big data, and that’s the ultimate goal of any big data company, to build in enough intelligence and ease of use, that it shows you stuff, you didn’t know was there and you didn’t know you were looking for.
“To the extent it becomes radically easier [over time] to get information from massive amounts of data, there will be use cases we can’t imagine,” he said. For now, he believes that Adatao is at least a piece of the puzzle in terms of pushing the industry forward.
Nguyen tries to frame his company in terms of the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. In Web 1.0, it was highly technical and required experts to build websites. By Web 2.0, the tools were easier to use and business users could add content without help from IT. While the analogy doesn’t completely hold together, it is a useful way to think about this as Adatao and other companies try to bring big data to the masses.
PHOTO CREDIT: (c) Can Stock Photo