Datameer at BBBT: The Chasm and the Niche

Datameer showed up at the BBBT last Friday and it was interesting. The presenters were Stefan Groschupf, CEO, and Azita Martin, CMO. Stefan worked on Nutch project out of which Hadoop was born and he had a refreshingly non-open standard addicted viewpoint of the industry. He very clearly pointed out that Hadoop was big, slow and great for analyzing gathered information but not for speed. He also pointed out that RDBMS’s aren’t going anywhere. The most accurate and humorous thing I’ve heard for a while in a presentation is “hadumping,” Groschupf’s term for getting information into Hadoop.

On the UI front, they’ve picked and stuck with a very spreadsheet oriented view of the data, pointing out that’s what everyone knows so it’s easier to leverage the technology into companies and departments who have been using spreadsheets for years. Yet later he knocked SQL with Hadoop without realizing that’s the same thing. Even worse, he’d already pointed out just how expensive Hadoop programmers are to hire and seemed to miss that hire a few of them and then more affordable SQL workers, of whom there are many more than Hadoop experts, for the high level analytics might make sense.

Meanwhile, while the spreadsheets are familiar, modern BI is providing graphics. The interface they showed is very simplistic and needs work. While the individual graphics weren’t impressive, I did like that they provide a much more naturally looking dashboard paradigm that doesn’t lock in images and allows people to visualize context far more. That was showed in the demo and I didn’t get a good screen shot, but it’s a nice differentiator.

The slide that most impressed me, coming from a small company, was in Azita Martin’s section and presented the customer journey from Datameer’s perspective.

Datameer Customer Journey slide

Datameer – Customer Journey

It shows that management is thinking about the customer not just “how do I find somebody to fit the cool thing I’ve built?” They’re a small company thinking strategically. The question is: How strategically?

You were wondering when I’d mention the Chasm?

Stefan Groschupf mentioned Moore’s Chasm and that the industry is moving across it. However, given his admission of Hadoop’s message, I’m not sure that he has enough of a market for it to do the same.

Datameer is focused on analyzing large data sets to find relationships for things that have happened. You might get predictive information out of it. In fact, you hope to do so. However, this is not real-time analytics and isn’t meant to be. I think they have a good product for what they’re marketing. However, as big as that market is, it’s a niche. The growth in BI is moving towards meshing backwards looking, historical data with real-time information (regardless of the wide differences in the meaning of that word within difference industries and user parameters) and providing predictive analytics that can impact decisions that have immediate impact.

While BI is crossing the chasm, I think that analyzing large datasets will have a product life cycle and not a market life cycle. People will continue to want it but they’ll want it as part of a larger solution.

For instance, they briefly talked about enhancing operational analytics but much of what that market is doing, whether in hospitals, the transportation industry, oil fields or elsewhere is demanding faster analytics to find problems before they happen and take proactive actions. Slower analytics will help, but as a subset.

So what’s that mean for Datameer?

Summary

Datameer management has a great understanding of Hadoop’s strengths and weaknesses and they’ve done a good job of focusing on the strengths to create a company with a great short term future. Looking at the larger market, however, makes me think of two words: Acquisition bait.

Many founders think that success is only in terms of making it to IPO. Many others, thankfully, have a more open view to other exit strategies. Acquisition is nothing to be ashamed of and another great sign of success. If Datameer keeps focusing on their niche they’re going to build a strong customer base with a good technology that will fit somebody’s needs for enhancing an overall BI portfolio. There’s nothing wrong with that.

If you’re looking for a company to help you better understand large and diverse datasets, you should be talking with Datameer.

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