Disrupting Business Analytics

SAP bought Business Objects for $6.78 billion dollars. Oracle bought Hyperion for $3.3 billion dollars. IBM bought Cognos for $4.9 billion dollars.

People were willing to pay a ton for old school business analytics… You’d collect business data with an extract, transform and load (ETL) software, carefully organize and fill a data warehouse, and then run specialized business intelligence (BI) reports against that structured database. Although it was a slow and expensive process, the results were totally worth it—crazy insights that drove revenue, cut costs and put bananas in every aisle in the grocery store!

However, in the world of big data, it looks like the old guard has been caught completely flatfooted. The continued success of super cheap, open source Hadoop has the $35 billion business analytics market scrambling to protect their cash cows in an era of free milk. This week you will see many of the old players rolling out strategies to remain relevant; creating “connectors” and hybrid Hadoop-SQL technologies to place Hadoop one step back in the pipeline behind their stuff. But all they have done is make things more complicated for IT and less accessible for the business user. Where is the promised disruption?

Platfora is launching today as a breakthrough BI product for getting insights from data in Hadoop. Instead of trying to replicate the old school stack, Platfora has reinvented the entire process. The Platfora magic is that it sits next to Hadoop and allows business users to interact with massive datasets to perform simple or complex queries in a sub-second instead of hours or days. No ETL or data warehouse is necessary, period. Platfora eliminates two steps of the old stack and makes businesses way more efficient. That’s disruptive. That changes the business analytics landscape.

The Platfora news is:

  • After 18 months in development, Platfora is unveiling their first-of-a-kind product to the world. Platfora is in full beta with 10 serious enterprise customers and they have the pipeline in place to expand to nearly 100 before GA in early Q1.
  • To build the product, the Platfora development team has amassed an arsenal of top talent in the database and interface design world. This launch is just the beginning and this platform will expand over time.
  • While in stealth, Ben added veteran leaders Peter Schlampp as VP of Products & Marketing and John Schuster as VP of Engineering. I’ve known both these guys for years from IronPort and they have a track record of building huge, successful businesses.

As a board member, I now have over a year of game footage on Ben Werther and John Eshleman as they’ve grown the company and hit all of their milestones. Since we’ve been involved, they’ve built a team of rockstars, engaged with over 150 customers and shipped an amazing product. Their urgency, cadence and customer-centric, methodical march have been absolutely textbook. In fact, I’ve been sending other portfolio companies to Ben to study how they’ve done what they’ve accomplished. As I said in an earlier blog post on Platfora, we have always been excited about Ben’s vision for Platfora and are now even more excited about his execution. Congratulations to Ben and the team!

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