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Getting Value from Big Data: A Q&A with Rich Ghiossi and Suzanne Hoffman

Originally published January 3, 2014

This BeyeNETWORK spotlight features Ron Powell’s interview with Rich Ghiossi, vice president of marketing for Treasure Data, and Suzanne Hoffman, head of analyst relations at Tableau. Rich, Suzanne and Ron discuss their joint approach to simplifying and transforming the way companies derive value from big data.
Suzanne or Rich – both Tableau and Treasure Data focus on agility and simplicity. This partnership that you’ve recently announced, how does that help?

Rich Ghiossi: I think it’s a great question, Ron. Both of our companies are focused on agility and simplicity. At a macro level, those are really important, but it’s mostly about providing value to customers. In this age of big data and information, the faster companies can take advantage of information, the better off they are. The better they’re going to be, and the more they’re going to be ahead in their markets. Frankly, empowering the business community with data really quickly—and in a fashion that’s really simple for them to get the data, visualize the data and act on that data—is really important. The combination of our two technologies is doing that today.

Rich, can you give us a little background on Treasure Data?

Rich Ghiossi:
Treasure Data is a new entrant in the market, and we’re really excited because we feel we’re really going to transform the way big data can be used. Our premise is to figure out how to acquire, store and analyze this data in a managed cloud service that's implemented literally in a few days. We don’t require a lot of support staff inside of an organization. We’ll do all that for you. So think about being able to connect up to your big data source, flow that data into a managed service in the cloud, and be able to start using that data in a matter of hours—many times we have folks in production in less than 14 days.

Suzanne, tell us a little about Tableau.

Suzanne Hoffman: Well, first let me add to what Rich just said. We do share a vision. I think it’s important to understand that in the simplifying and transforming the way that companies drive value, it’s really important to be able to support the innovative business strategies that businesses have today. That’s why when we identified Treasure Data as a potential partner—actually our customers did it for us—we identified them as a leader in the market with the services to address each phase of the data pipeline. With the unprecedented scale of data, adding simplicity to the end-to-end evolution of the consumption of the data, we’re together helping a customer at each stage of the process and then, of course, Tableau on top with our simple-to-use, easy-to-understand visualization layer.

At Tableau we simply help people see and understand data. We have more than 15,000 organizations around the globe that are focused on being able to answer the hard business questions. It’s not just your traditional users of business intelligence. It’s all decision makers throughout an organization, including the tactical decision maker. Whether they’re working on premises or working in the cloud with software as a service like Treasure Data, or they’re working in a free environment that we have with Tableau Public. That’s where we address the market. We think this is a great strategy moving forward between the two companies.

When I look at Tableau and innovation, Tableau has really changed the face of business intelligence. You really brought it up to the business level.

Suzanne Hoffman: We have. We’re somewhat of a disruptor, but we’ve returned the capability of decision making to the masses. It’s a democratization of data. It’s a democratization of decision making. We’re really seeing businesses, our joint customers, gain the agility that you already mentioned—the  ability to make cogent business decisions in real time that are going to impact their companies.

Rich, talk about disruptive technology and what you’re doing in the cloud. You’re really taking big data to a whole new level.

Rich Ghiossi: Yes, we are. I love what Suzanne says because what they’ve done in terms of providing the visualization and that delivery and the ability to create value very quickly to the business community is what we’re doing on the back end. We’re able to provide that same user, that same kind of profile of person, the ability to collect their data, store their data and prepare it for analysis—all in a really short period of time—so that time from creation of data to use of data is minimized. Therefore, time to value becomes really important. I think that’s a common value proposition between us.

Scale from a visualization perspective is really one of the hallmarks of Tableau.

Suzanne Hoffman: It really is. No data left unturned, so to speak. If you have the data available to you, let’s uncover the story that the data has trapped within. We really want to understand all the nuances of all the data and how that might affect a business decision.  It may not even be a business decision. We talk about this as being focused on business, but there are decisions being made at all levels of an organization that impact not only the business and the operations, but their customers, their investment portfolios, their investors and the common community around them. We need to address those as well.  That just takes the data and explodes it out into the trillions of rows, multi-terabytes or even zetabytes that are available.

Rich Ghiossi:  It’s exactly right. I think one of the things that we collectively can do through these kinds of combinations of possibilities is to open up a whole new set of applications of data that many times has not been looked at before or hasn’t even been created, partly because it’s new data or partly because it hasn’t been cost-effective. I think we’ve broken through some of those barriers now to where anybody in the organization can now benefit from this kind of information and really change the way they’re making decisions inside their organizations.

What about scalability, Rich?

Rich Ghiossi: That’s one nice thing about working in the cloud. If somebody needs more resources, we can just provision more resources. The neat thing is they don’t even have to ask us. We see what's needed and we can do it for them. We can do it behind the scenes. We can make sure that we’re doing what is needed to make our customers successful. We’ve seen phenomenal growth. One of the things we did a few weeks ago was put out a press release talking about the growth that we’ve had in the service. We’ve had 50% growth quarter over quarter. We’re going to pass 100 customers here at the end of 2013, and we’re going to pass through three trillion rows imported into our service. If we were to talk about the data that we’re collecting—we don’t store all of it raw because we compress and filter it—but if you look at the raw data that we were actually drawing from, that’s equivalent to about three petabytes. This is the kind of growth we’ve seen over this last year. So we can handle scale.

Sure, the new “T” is not terabytes anymore – it’s now trillions. Can you cite for us a specific customer example where both of you are involved?

Rich Ghiossi: Yes, it’s interesting. We have a number of examples, but to back up to what Suzanne says, I think this is a really interesting relationship because it was stimulated by customers—customers who saw both products in the marketplace, saw the simplicity, saw the value they were getting in the combined solution and said, “We have to use these products together.” We started to see that and Tableau started to see that, and we came together and said, “We should figure out how to make a relationship out of this.” So a number of customers have already started. We’ve accelerated that process, but GetJar, a mobile advertising network is a customer that’s been very vocal about the fact that they have created tons of value out of their solution by optimizing their ads and understanding exactly what impressions are being delivered on what device and to what communities. And they have created some awesome visualizations in Tableau's environment on the back of the data they’ve collected in our service. They’ll say their business is being driven by the information that they’re getting out of the environment, but especially the ability to easily look at that information by using Tableau.

Suzanne Hoffman: And I think, Rich, too it’s that they get the actual agility they need in the marketplace. This is an organization that is involved with the mobile advertising community. It’s a real-time environment. There is no laggard. There is no sense that we can stop for a moment and go back and analyze. Everything has to be done in real time, as of the moment. With the volume of data, historically we could never together envision something like a solution that would dramatically improve the bottom line. And here’s GetJar saying, “It does. This is exactly what we need. This is exactly how we’re going to create value for our customers.” It’s not just the revenue that they get. It’s the trickle-down effect they have on their customers and being able to provide value. You really see this waterfall effect of this combination of technologies helping all the way down the food chain. And that’s a really important thing to remember.

Rich Ghiossi: Yes, and I think that’s a common characteristic of all of the customers that we’re working with together—this need for agility and being able to adapt on the fly in real time to what they’re actually seeing and what the business is demanding.

We’ve talked a lot about big data over the last few years, and this is proof that there is actually value coming from big data.

Rich Ghiossi: Yes, and I love the change that together we’re putting in the marketplace because so much of the dialog in the marketplace has been around technology. Technology is a means to the end. Let’s put technology in the back room where it belongs. We create a black box, and let’s put data into the black box and have it visually coming out with something like Tableau on the other end. That’s what we need to do. That’s where we’re going, and I think that’s where the value of big data is going to happen over the next couple of years.

Perfect. Thank you Rich and Suzanne for sharing how Tableau and Treasure Data together provide the combination that’s helping companies unlock the value of big data.

  • Ron PowellRon Powell
    Ron is an independent analyst, consultant and editorial expert with extensive knowledge and experience in business intelligence, big data, analytics and data warehousing. Currently president of Powell Interactive Media, which specializes in consulting and podcast services, he is also Executive Producer of The World Transformed Fast Forward series. In 2004, Ron founded the BeyeNETWORK, which was acquired by Tech Target in 2010.  Prior to the founding of the BeyeNETWORK, Ron was cofounder, publisher and editorial director of DM Review (now Information Management). He maintains an expert channel and blog on the BeyeNETWORK and may be contacted by email at rpowell@powellinteractivemedia.com. 

    More articles and Ron's blog can be found in his BeyeNETWORK expert channel.

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