The web is a vast, mostly useless, wasteland with bits of information held in random silos scattered about. Cyfeon Solutions’ Answer Factory attempts to unite these locations in the spirit of increased productivity.
As I was told by founder Brandon Smith, its goal is to provide business users a solution that allows them to make better business decisions by pulling in data from multiple sources from across the web.
Smith was joined on the Disrupt NYC 2012 stage by Rod Taylor, EVP of sales at Cyfeon Solutions, to present Answer Factory for the first time. As they explained, Answer Factory acts as a single access point for the end user (most likely a business type) with access to big data and broad support for databases, .txt/.csv files, and popular APIs like Twitter and Google Docs — even weather data can be pulled in as need to help lay out travel plans. Answer Factory federates the data, models it, and then pushes it to the users, all in real time.
The idea is to give the business users a single access point for the various data and information sources needed for their job. Answer Factory is a Java-based software component that sits on top of the data source, which also allows for predictive answering. Say there’s a question concerning personnel. Currently, as Smith explained, a user would have to consult several sources — LinkedIn, Facebook, Skype and others — for the answer. This is where Answer Factory comes in — once the data sources have been added to the back-end, the user will have access to all the information.
It’s not a perfect solution yet. The interface isn’t the most consumer friendly — Smith and Taylor clearly state that this is an enterprise solution, targeting business professionals, but the UI could use some work nevertheless. Selling a database management tool is hard enough but selling a cumbersome database management tool is incomparably harder.
Q: What’s your elevator pitch?
A: We provide a way for companies to use all the data inside or outside the company at any time to help improve their decisions
Q: It sounds like answer quality is what you’re getting after. Do you have any metrics to prove that your answers are better?
A: I don’t have specific answers since just launching today, but I can talk about our skill set. A lot of our folks have enterprise app experience, and we couple that with strong data science ability, so we return some unique answers.
Q: Who are you targeting?
A: Business users, we’re not targeting technical side of the house. Think sales and operations teams.
Q: If a potential customer finds you on Google, what would their search query be?
A: What are solutions that allow me to make better decisions within my company, and specifically a way that takes advantage of internal and external data.
Q: How do you access the company’s private data? Do you copy it? Do you get on their servers?
A: We have about 20 out-of-the-box adapters that can plug into many different databases.