Splunk dives into business analytics

Business analytics, particularly customer-facing applications, is a growing segment for Splunk and it is looking to capitalize on the momentum by targeting specific verticals such as healthcare and e-commerce.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Splunk may be content with providing tools to better manage one's IT infrastructure and secure it against online attacks, but the company's customers are prodding it toward investing more in business analytics particularly customer-facing applications.

Speaking to ZDNet Asia Thursday, Steve Sommer, chief marketing officer at Splunk, said the San Francisco-based software company generates most of its business from infrastructure management, security, and application development. As long as people know Splunk for these lines of business, his "job is done", he stated.

That said, some 10 percent of its business is coming from Web and business analytics, and it is a growing market for the big data and business intelligence service provider. Customer analytics, in particular, is a "big component" of this growth and it is looking to capitalize on specific industry verticals to drive business, Sommer stated.

CEO and President Godfrey Sullivan previously said Web analytics will be the company's focus area in 2012, and business analytics will be 2013's. He said for Splunk to offer a compelling business analytics product, it would need to work on tweaking the software's user interface and adapting to the languages enterprise data analysts use, such as SQL, to search for and mine information.

To better serve customers in this area, Sommer said it is "hiring quite a few people" with relevant industry expertise. This is to better understand the respective industry's needs and create industry-specific application, he explained.

Partnerships also help Splunk expand its capabilities. He said its SplunkLive event is being held simultaneously in Singapore, London and Dubai today, and in the U.K., DataSift is announcing it will use Splunk technology for its social media analytics. It will also publish its app on Splunk's app platform--Splunkbase--to be used by others, he said.   

There are over 350 applications created by Splunk partners on the app platform, and its growth is testament to the company's effort to move away from being simply a tool developer to a platform operator, he added. It had introduced six different SDKs (software development kits) to help developers create technologies powered by Splunk's machine data mining capabilities.

No truth in acquisition rumors

The software vendor is also riding high following its successful initial public offering (IPO) last April. In its fourth quarter earnings report released in March, the company posted a better-than-expected net loss of US$5.9 million on revenue of US$65.2 million.

Sommer said since the IPO, the company is now "cash-flow positive" and it plans to invest in research and development as well as recruitment. In South Asia--which refers to Southeast Asia markets and India--for example, the company plans to increase its present headcount of 10, although there is no clear target for 2013, the executive said. There are 780 employees worldwide currently and 280 of these were hired in 2012 alone, he added.

He also noted the software developer is investing "all over Asia". Singapore and Hong Kong are its strongholds, while South Korea and Japan has been growing quickly in recent times. China, too, is starting to grow as the company increases its channel partner and localization activities in the country, he revealed.

As for rumors the company was a target for acquisition by IT bigwigs such as IBM, Sommer dismissed the notion. "Our CEO doesn't want to work for anyone," he stated.

Bloomberg reported in January this year IBM was one of many companies preparing a bid to take over Splunk.

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