An end of the year view into what’s happening in the Big Data ecosystem with Eldad Farkash, a veteran of the Business Intelligence world.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with introducing our audience to yourself as well as to Sisense.
Eldad Farkash: I’m the CTO and Founder of Sisense. Sisense is a Big Data analytics company that bridges the gap between complex models and Big Data clusters with simple business users’ unique needs. The company itself is around 130 people. We have raised around $50 million. We have offices in Tel Aviv and New York. Our R&D team operates from Tel Aviv and sales and management operates in New York. We have 700 customers ranging from huge Internet web companies to government agencies and startups.
Sramana Mitra: What about target customer? Specifically, how do you segment the market and where are you focusing?
Eldad Farkash: The Business Intelligence and Big Data landscape is pretty huge. You’ve got massive amounts of companies trying to solve basically the same problem. The biggest difference between Sisense and many of them is that Sisense looks at the problem from the business user’s perspective – the tool that the user uses needs to have all the stack coming from the data crunching up to the dashboarding.
Users usually apply our tools to solve complex data problems. They have access to data. They’re usually from IT and they have their own know-how and resources there. They need to stitch together a BI solution. They like the product because it enables them to do this very quickly without having to go through many vendors and draw the BI picture from multiple BI layers. It’s one tool that does everything. In many ways, it’s similar to Tableau but with the scale of getting to billions of records.
Sramana Mitra: Is your value proposition more on the visualization layer like Tableau or do you do more of the stack besides visualization?
Eldad Farkash: I would say we do data mash-ups extremely well and dashboarding really well. Sisense is not a visualization versus data company. It’s a company that combines both. The database can work with a UI layer very well. It’s open so you can connect and combine different sources and different visualizations. At the end of the day, most customers need those two parts working very well together.
Sramana Let’s take a few customer use cases and drill down into what’s unique. Let’s use these use cases to illustrate what you’re able to do that others cannot.
Eldad Farkash: With data, it’s all about how fast you can get from raw data to an answer. I can give you a few use cases that are, at first glance, seem to be very different. Sisense usually starts at the bottom. Even companies like eBay, they start by going to the site and downloading the product in trying to solve a basic dashboarding need. They need to tap into an Excel file or a Hadoop data source. Then they start pushing it up instead of down.
If you look at eBay for example, they started with a very specific use case around shipping analytics. They wanted to figure out how different products from different vendors behave across time depending on seasonality and different nationalities. They wanted to get one big view of this dashboard. It wasn’t something that the user can solve. It was something that the IT team should solve.
The problem was data was sitting across three or four continents. It was very hard to centralize everything. What eBay discovered with the tool was the group who’s responsible for the business analytics do the mash up themselves. Those guys have the access to all the data. They managed to build the solution themselves. They call it agile Big Data dashboarding. They build vertical dashboards that gives the executives a unified view of certain business scenarios.