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Guest Post – Living in Data

February 11, 2016

The following guest blog post is from Trifacta investor and board member Frank Artale. Frank has been a managing partner at Ignition Partners since 2011, where he focuses on enterprise software investments including products related to big data and cloud. His career in software began in 1984 where he has since been VP of business development at Citrix, founder and CEO of Consera Software, executive at VERITAS Software, and general manager of Windows 2000 at Microsoft

Today, we live in data – data in many shapes and forms. Whether it’s email, voice communications or device signals, this growing variety of data is inherently valuable, helping us form opinions and make decisions. More than 30 years ago, I saw how the introduction of the PC-based spreadsheet changed the way that people interacted with data. But back then we were dealing with simple data, or at least what we’d consider simple today. In the past few years, a number of factors have caused the scale and complexity of data to change dramatically. There is an enormous amount of structured and unstructured data that should be applied to our day-to-day workflow, but it’s hard to wrangle it into a coherent form for communication or decision-making. The answers or supporting arguments are in the data, they just need to be uncovered. The dots are there but they need to be found first before they can then be connected. Only then, can new forms of analysis occur, delivering revelations that have massive impacts on businesses of all sizes and the people who strive to make them great.

The explosion of new data being created in the world today has been well documented. Seeing as 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in the last two years, it’s no secret that the organizations that are able to drive value and innovation from this data will succeed. However, companies large and small struggle to utilize the complexity and scale of today’s data. In fact, the research that led to the founding of Trifacta unveiled that the process of converting raw data into a format that is usable for analysis takes up to 80 percent of any analytics process. And the challenge of preparing the growing volume and variety of data for different types of analysis is not going to get easier—it’s only going to grow more difficult and more pervasive. As witnessed by Trifacta’s growth over the past year, there is a tremendous market opportunity for software that helps everyday business people (not unicorn data scientists) more effectively unlock the potential of this data.

At Ignition Partners, we identify and invest in leading startup organizations in emerging market spaces. The enormous growth of the big data industry has been a particular focus of ours, having previously invested in industry leaders such as Splunk and Cloudera in their early days. This involvement has given our team a front row seat to watch the fast-growing big data industry take shape over the years, while also providing us with a unique vantage point to spot areas of unmet need in the market.

One of the biggest industry changes has been the emergence of big data platforms like Hadoop, which have enabled organizations with far greater flexibility in the types of data they are able to store and process. Yet, given the scale and complexity of the data landing in the platform, it’s nearly impossible for business stakeholders—the individuals with the greatest context for the data—to directly explore and interact with this data to drive operational efficiencies or uncover new sources of value. By focusing on enabling everyday business individuals, to efficiently work with this data and drive value from it, Trifacta is filling a critical gap every organization investing in big data faces.

I still remember the first time I met with Trifacta’s founders Joe, Jeff and Sean and they walked me through a demo of the product. It immediately clicked. In that quick demo, I saw how they made some of the most painful, laborious, and time-consuming tasks involved in preparing data for analysis, completely intuitive and even enjoyable. It was at that moment I knew I needed to get involved. As I’ve watched the company grow and continue to innovate, I am constantly amazed at how Trifacta’s solutions make incredibly complex processes, elegantly simple for users. With over 700 percent growth in the past year alone and the addition of name brand customers like Kaiser Permanente, PepsiCo and Royal Bank of Scotland, it’s also clear that the market has seen the same value in the company’s technology.

Trifacta’s future is bright and I look forward to watching the company continue to grow, innovate and meet the demands of modern enterprises globally.

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