Data Mania Focuses on SaaS Ecosystems
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Data Mania industry event hosted by Informatica. The afternoon event was a nice mix of industry panels with technical and business speakers from companies that included Amazon, Birst, AppDynamics, SalesForce, Marketo, Tableau, Adobe, Informatica, Birst, Dun & Bradstreet and several others.
A main theme of the event that came through with so many small, medium and large SaaS vendors was that everyone is increasingly dependent on being able to integrate data from other solutions and platforms. The second part of this was that customers increasingly expect the data integration requirements to work under the covers so they can focus on the higher level business solutions.
I really thought the four companies presented by Informatica as the winners of their Connect-a-Thon contest were the highlight. Each of these solutions was built by a company and highlighted some great aspects of data integration.
Databricks provides a cloud platform for big data processing. The solution leverages Apache Spark, which is an open source engine for big data processing that has seen a lot of adoption. Spark is the engine for the Databricks Cloud which then adds several enterprise features for visualization, large scale Spark cluster management, workflow and integration with third party applications. Having a big data solution means bringing data in from a lot of SaaS and on premise sources so Databricks built a connector to Informatica Cloud to make it easier to load data into the Databricks Cloud. Again, it’s a great example the ecosystem where higher level solutions can leverage 3rd party.
Thoughspot provides a search based BI solution. The general idea is that a search based interface provides a tool that a much broader group of users can use with little training to access to the power of enterprise business intelligence tools. It reminds me of some other solutions that fall into the enterprise 2.0 area and do everything from expert location to finding structured and unstructured data more easily. They wrote a nice blog post explaining why they built the ThoughtSpot Connector for Informatica Cloud. The main reason they are using Informatica to handle the data integration so they can focus on their own solution, which is the end user facing BI tools. It’s the example of SaaS providers choosing to either roll their own data integration or leveraging other providers as part of their solution.
BigML provides some very interesting machine learning solutions. The simple summary would be they are trying to create beautiful visualization and predicative modeling tools. The solution greatly simplifies the process of model iteration and visualizing models. Their gallery of models has several very good examples. Again, in this case BigML built a connector to Informatica Cloud for the SaaS and on premise integration and also in conjunction with the existing BigML REST API. BigML wrote a great blog post on their connector that goes into more details.
FollowAnalytics had one of the more interesting demonstrations because it was a very different solution than the other three solutions. They have a mobile marketing platform that is used to drive end user engagement and measure that engagement. They also uploaded their Data Mania integration demo here. They mostly are leveraging the data integration to provide access to important data sources that can help drive customer engagement in their platform. Given their end users are more marketing or business analysts they just expect to be able to easily get the data they want and need to drive marketing analysis and engagement.
My takeaway from talking to many of the SaaS vendors was that there is a lot of interest being able to leverage higher level infrastructure, platform and middleware services as they mature to meet the real needs of SaaS vendors so that they can focus on their own solutions. The ecosystem might be more ready in a lot of cases than what is available.