In a recent Inc. magazine article, 6 Easily Adaptable Habits of Highly Effective Managers, Attivio CEO Stephen Baker discussed constant coaching as key to his leadership role.

I followed Inc.’s lead and interviewed Stephen, but instead of discussing management, I asked about what’s happening in Attivio’s market space and the role we are playing.

6 Easily Adaptable Habits of Highly Effective Managers, Inc. Magazine

It’s clear that the convergence of BI, Big Data and Enterprise Search (search-based data discovery) is fueling the future of this industry. Can you expand on this idea, and tell us about your vision for Attivio in this space?

I think it’s important we stop talking about Big Data as a standalone project. Your data is only as good as your ability to find it and derive insights from it when needed.

You can integrate datasets into a BI tool using intuitive visual-based tools very easily when you have a homogeneous or structured dataset. But when you start introducing unstructured data or qualitative data (e.g., correlating weather data with well production data in an oil field), it gets messy. It’s difficult to visualize a qualitative and a quantitative dataset and derive insights.

Gartner’s latest Hype Cycle for Business Intelligence and Analytics identifies search-based data discovery as something that will challenge data visualization companies and increase adoption of data-driven solutions.

Search-based data discovery is an interesting and exciting concept. With search-based data discovery, you would simply type a question in your natural language like you do when you perform a search in Google and get an answer. This type of search doesn’t require a visualization tool.

So, for example, you could ask a question like “tell me what type of weather conditions which exist most of the time when I see a reduction in productivity in my oil wells.” The answer that comes back, such as “snow,” or “sleet,” gives you insights into how weather patterns affect productivity.

Right now, search can’t infer what a question means. They match the words in a query, or keywords, with words in a document. But Gartner says that there is an increasing importance for an interface in BI tools that extend BI content creation, analysis and data discovery to non-skilled users. You don’t need to be familiar with the data or be a business analyst or data scientist. You can be anyone and simply ask a question in your words and have the search engine deliver the relevant set of documents. 

There is a lot of innovation happening right now that puts Attivio and other companies on a path to deliver against this use case. This is the convergence of BI, Big Data, and Enterprise Search – applying Search to a BI use case. Gartner says it could be one of the most disruptive trends in the data discovery space.

Attivio is The Data Dexterity Company. What is Data Dexterity, from your perspective?

Data dexterity is the ability to find and use data in a timely fashion to get the insights you need to drive competitive advantage.

You know about the concept of agile BI – which is essentially the incorporation of agile software development methodologies to accelerate BI projects and get insights into the business quicker. Here’s the trick: to have truly agile BI, you need to have agility with your data and content sources. Finding the right data is a fundamental challenge for BI projects - the ability to find all the relevant data, get access to it and move it into a BI application.

We talk about the idea of dark data – data that’s locked away in silos within the organization. It’s estimated that organizations only use about 10% of the data they have.

With the explosive growth of data volume and variety, the potential to have this inaccessible dark data is extremely high. It makes the process of finding relevant information a mostly manual and time-consuming process. 

Smart organizations understand that data is a strategic asset. They also understand that BI projects can help create competitive advantage, so they need to get more dexterous and get people the data they need in a timely fashion.

Our engineers come from a unique mash up of search, database, and BI companies and have developed some of the industry’s leading IP for profiling, identifying, and unifying data and content. That’s why we are experts in data discovery and integration agility, and we enable our customers to become experts at extracting maximum value from all their data. 

What sets Attivio apart from competitors in the data discovery space?

Attivio has a mature, agile enterprise platform that has been evolving to address the needs of the market since 2008. We are extremely well positioned for the data discovery space. There are 3 key factors that set us apart from the competition today:

  1. The ability to profile data sources from across the organization and give immediate visibility into all data.
  2. The ability to derive structure from unstructured data, with content analytics.
  3. Our self-service approach that enables non-technical users to search for and find the data they need, quickly and easily.

As I mentioned in a previous post about the Attivio 5 launch, closing the data discovery gap is critically important for any company that wants to compete on analytics. At Attivio, we want to help companies do just that.


Gartner Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines 2019
Attivio was recognized for our completeness in vision and ability to execute.