1010data chief Sandy Steier on visualization, UI, and big data

1010data is known for its spreadsheet-ish approach to big data, but the company is increasingly pushing into visualization tools to improve accessibility.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Sandy Steier, CEO of 1010data, has recently launched visualization tools and hired former NPD Group executive Natalie Seidman to build out the company's partner ecosystem. The end game: Bring big data to more executives beyond the analysis wonks.

We caught up with Steier to talk big data, visualization, and industries. 1010data's product line includes data platform as a service, analytics tools, a data sharing and monetization platform, and industry-specific offerings. In a nutshell, 1010data is increasingly being used as an enterprise data warehouse replacement. 

Here's a look at the key points:

Visualization and interface. 1010data's secret sauce in many respects has been to take big data and massive information flows, analyze it and put it into an Excel-like interface that analysts are familiar with. With its last release, 1010data added a bevy of visualization tools. Steier said that 1010data will remain "spreadsheet-ish" but the idea is to also have other interfaces. "In the past, if a customer wanted us to do better visualization they would layer BI (business intelligence) on top of us," said Steier. "We will stay with that approach, but Excel also has visualization built into it. Visualization is an important tool and important part of business intelligence."



A Tableau partnership. 1010data recently inked a partnership with Tableau to integrate with its visualization tools. Is there a conflict with dueling visualization? Steier said there wasn't. "Analysts need to do the analysis and it makes sense to layer Tableau on top of 1010data," he explained. "But Tableau has its own limitations. We have hundreds of billions of records. Tableau is very good at certain types, but can't do logistical analysis." That analysis is ideal for 1010data's spreadsheet-like approach. "The idea is to have advanced analytics and visualization in one place," said Steier.

Visualization as commodity. Steier noted that there is a visualization trend in enterprise software and everyone is in on the act. The main theme: Make big data accessible to a wider range of business people. "Visualization is visualization and everyone kind of looks the same and has been improving over the years," said Steier. "I'm not going to claim our pie charts are better than Tableau's, but most visualization tools have a limit. Our limit is much higher. Our scatter plot with a million points is useful. Scalability is our thing."

User interface matters. Like most enterprise software players, 1010data has been focusing on user interface and experience. "The trend in the market is to have a natural flow of information and present it in a graphical form," said Steier. "A lot of what's going on in big data around user interface is because Hadoop is not acceptable to non-hard core technical people," said Steier. "There needs to be some face on the data to make it digestible."

Verticals. 1010data's sweet spot has been in industries such as consumer product goods and retail. Recently, government has become a key customer, but gaming may be among the most interesting new frontiers for Steier. "Gaming is one of the most analytical industries I've seen," said Steier. "The whole gambling industry is based on math at some level. The industry employees sophisticated analysts and PhDs to go beyond what's happening on the floor with offers to customers, comps, and slot machine operations such as which ones are employed and which one will fail."

Growing wallet share. Steier said that 1010data starts in most industries by showing executives something they couldn't do before. From there, 1010data can grow its wallet share to displace other technologies. That theme is familiar for up-and-coming vendors in the big data space.

Partnerships. 1010data's partnership with Tableau is a beginning and an area "we intend to do more with," said Steier. 1010data wants more partnerships on the data side of the equation so the service becomes more than just a super spreadsheet that can act as a databases. 1010data has data partners in financial services with Equifax, Moody's, S&P and others. Steier ultimately sees more data sources — say economic data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics — being imported.

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