Payments startup Stripe is always on the lookout for ways it can help its users make better use of its APIs, and occasionally builds new products to solve common problems they face. A good example of that is Sigma, a new data analytics tool the company is rolling out today.
Sigma is a fully customizable SQL tool that will be available as part of all Stripe accounts. The idea behind it is to eliminate the need for Stripe customers to build their own data analytics tooling. That would usually mean building a data pipeline and data warehouse where users would pull information from Stripe before analyzing it.
Instead, Sigma makes data analytics available directly in the Stripe dashboard. Companies running Stripe will have access to real-time information with no setup work or ongoing maintenance necessary. It allows anyone in a business (with permission) to now be able to write simple queries that will give them deeper insights into their business.
Queries can be written in SQL, and shared or saved by users, allowing them to track how different metrics change over time. Sigma provides a series of templates that will allow businesses to easily figure out which customers might have unpaid invoices this month, what their recurring revenue is in a certain time period or what their average revenue per user might be.
“Because Sigma is a query editor, you can express any question or query or analysis of your business data,” Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison told me in a phone interview this week. “It has immense flexibility built right into it. Rather than providing specific reports or pre-packaged data, we’re creating maximally flexible tools.”
Collison likened the development of Sigma to its launch of Radar, a fraud prevention machine learning tool that Stripe launched last fall. In both cases, Stripe is tackling a common problem many of its users face, while taking advantage of the resources and data it has internally.
“We’re always looking at common challenges our users are facing,” Collison said. “With Sigma, we heard from a lot of businesses that they had various analytics needs. We wanted to eliminate as much duplicative work across the platform and give them a flexible query interface. We believe all of these different needs and different use cases can be solved across a common set of tools.”
The company is launching Sigma today at Stripe Sessions, its first-ever conference for hundreds of Stripe users. Collison said it wasn’t exactly Dreamforce, but Sessions would be an opportunity to get some of its large and diverse user base together and get feedback from them.
“Stripe has always been very developer-driven and we’ve done very little in terms of informing people what we’re doing instead of just publishing things on our website,” he said. “We’re trying to evolve how we engage with our users… and we hope this will be a valuable way for them to learn more about Stripe.”