Dale Skeen is CTO and co-founder of Vitria Technology Inc. He has a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and was chief scientist for TIBCO Software prior to founding Vitria. Today, Dale is considered by many of his colleagues in the industry as the pioneer in real-time business process analysis. In this interview he talks about the application of big data as an infrastructure as compared to a service, and he points out the various opportunities for entrepreneurs in the market of big data analysis.
Sramana Mitra: Dale, let’s start with context about you and about Vitria. I have known of Vitria for a very long time, having been in the industry for a while, but I suppose that it has evolved considerably. What could you tell us about the current direction of Vitria and the implications for big data on the company?
Dale Skeen: I am CTO and co-founder of Vitria. Vitria has been around for a while. We were founded in 1994, and our first mission was to focus on business process management. We were the pioneers in this sector and were successful in bringing [management capabilities] to the marketplace. In 1999 we made an IPO. Since that time, as a company, we have seen new opportunities. I think what is relevant to this series is that we always found Vitria to be a company where innovation was in our DNA. We continued to reinvent the company. We also invented the types of technologies we brought to the market to serve the customer better.
In our first chapter, we saw the [consequences of the] lack of being able to manage business transactions and business flows. Then we saw a great opportunity to bring business process management to the enterprise and to be able to systematically manage those flows. At the same time, we were able to empower a new class of business users – we would call these the process owners – to control their own destinies and to be able to define the business processes, which they were supposed to control and own, for the first time.
Recently we saw a new opportunity: Once you provide the enterprise with the capability to control its business processes, it needs to manage and optimize them and be able to adapt in a dynamic way. There was also increasing awareness of the notion of big data. Here we saw infrastructure technology come along for the first time. This would allow enterprises to make use of all these new sources of data. There was sensor data, for example, for telecommunications. Other enterprises wanted to be socially aware, and they cared about what the social media were saying about them or their industry.
We saw the opportunity to marry this type of big data and big data analysis to what the enterprises needed to do, which was running their operations better and smarter. We had the vision to bring big data into companies’ own business processes to analyze and change their business processes. With that, we decided to write chapter two. We focused on using big data in corporations to make companies smarter and better, being able to optimize [management processes]. This is what we do today.