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Channeling Your Inner Data Wrangler

July 2, 2015

The technology world is guaranteed to always be interesting. And right now is an especially exciting time for tech, because of the emergence of powerful new tools that allow people to work with data in ways that were never previously possible; at least not possible without a lot of time and the ability to write code.

Most people are by now familiar with how a new breed of Big Data tools are turning the voluminous output from mobile phones, web sites, “Internet of Things” sensors and a multitude of other sources, into actionable information. These technologies are changing how people work across all industries, in job functions spanning everything from direct marketing to pharmaceutical research.

The reason I am especially excited about Trifacta is because of the way the company is democratizing access to data of all shapes and sizes that was previously out of reach for most individuals or organizations. Now, not just programmers or data scientists, but every front line manager who needs to use data to make an informed decision about a pressing business issue, can directly interact with and explore their data to uncover previously hidden insights.

That’s because Trifacta helps solve what is arguably the biggest obstacle to the analysis of Big Data: getting the data into a form that allows users to interactively explore their data and ask intelligent questions of it. Most of the information encountered in Big Data doesn’t come in the tidy rows and columns of a spreadsheet, nor the structured tables of a relational database. It comes in all shapes and sizes; for example, a stream of clicks from a consumer’s Web site visit, or the JSON structure of Twitter data, or log files from any number of systems. To find out what secrets those clicks, tweets or logs might contain, they first need to be cleaned up and formatted, and potentially augmented with other data sources; the process we call “data wrangling.”

Until now, wrangling was a job for experts; in the Big Data world, usually those with training in programming languages like Java or Python. And because the work is complex, time consuming, and often carried out by a person other than the one who ultimately wants to work with the data; the process can be slow, and require multiple iterations, before the ultimate user of the data actually gets to the point of being able to be productive with the data, and work to uncover those valuable insights.

Trifacta’s technology changes all that. It automates the often tedious, technical morass of data wrangling, using the latest advancements in human computer interaction, machine learning and data visualization, to present the data to users in an intuitive, visually engaging manner, allowing the user to find the not-so-obvious patterns and insights in a messy expanse of raw data.

There is a lot of deeply embedded technology behind Trifacta. The company’s core technology is based on groundbreaking work done by Joe Hellerstein, Jeffrey Heer and Sean Kandel as part of a collaborative research initiative between UC Berkeley and Stanford. These academic roots led to the commercial venture that is Trifacta and backing from legendary VCs Greylock Partners, Accel Partners and Ignition Partners, all with a track record for funding companies with game-changing technologies.

By putting powerful data tools into the hands of the people who need them the most, Trifacta will help open up new frontiers for how organizations and individuals interact with and use data.. For example, imagine digital experiences dynamically redesigned in response to the sorts of subtle changes in Web behavior that this technology can now tease out; or empowering a wider breadth of scientists to work with the complex data of genetic research, leading to the creation of successful gene therapy. That sort of rapid flexibility once required a group of PhDs. Now, with Trifacta, it can be all in a business analyst’s day’s work.

Throughout my career, I have experienced first hand the challenges of working with data, and also the incredible opportunity and value there is to gain from successfully leveraging data. My passions for technology and data led me to Trifacta, and what I am confident will be a new era in data technology. By enabling everyone who regularly works with data to become data wranglers, we’re empowering people from all disciplines to harness the power of data, and to tap into their ability to channel their inner data wrangler. Are you ready to wrangle? See the power of predictive transformation first hand with the free Trifacta Wrangler.