Alation Acquires Lyngo Analytics

By Talo Thomson

Published on October 14, 2021

Alation Acquires Lyngo Analytics

Alation is thrilled to announce the acquisition of Lyngo Analytics. As pioneers in the Natural Language Processing (NLP) space, Lyngo has leveled the data playing field with tools that allow anyone to learn from data. Their product empowers users to take a truly data-driven approach for business-critical decisions.

I sat down with Raj Gossain, Chief Product Officer at Alation, to learn why we’re excited about Lyngo, how our new integration will empower business users, and what this means for the future of data intelligence.

Hi Raj, thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. Let’s dive in. What is Lyngo Analytics? What problem do they solve?

Thanks, Talo. It’s a pleasure to speak with you. Simply put, Lyngo Analytics has built an application that empowers people to interact with their business data through natural language. Lyngo’s machine learning algorithms convert business questions into SQL, truly democratizing access to data and insights, giving users answers that previously only technical data analysts could provide.

This lowers the barrier to entry to sophisticated data analysis for non-technical people. You don’t have to know SQL to query your data, and you don’t have to be an analyst to draw data-driven conclusions. We’re confident this will help develop data literacy at all skill levels, but especially for those new to data.

Who is Lyngo’s core audience?

Their core audience is the non-technical or business user. But data scientists, analysts, and the entire business community stands to benefit from this integration.

How will these capabilities improve Alation?

First, this will allow us to better serve non-technical users. We’ve always been the user experience leader in the Data Catalog market and this only extends our leadership in data democratization. The integration of Alation and Lyngo will add a natural language interface to the data analytics functionality in Alation. This means deeper data insights will be available to a broader spectrum of information seekers, helping our customers create a data culture in their organization.

Why should people be excited about this integration?

We all know data is powerful, but not everyone has the skills to leverage it. With this integration, anyone will be able to query data with SQL — not just the SQL-savvy. When the business user can self-serve, and answer their own questions, that frees up a lot of time for data experts to pursue other, innovative projects. And for the experts who do know SQL, they will be able to perform even more complex analyses more quickly.

A lot of startups have tried to solve this problem. Why has this been such a tough nut to crack?

NLP for data and analytics requires understanding the question and retrieving the best answer. But translating business questions into SQL is tremendously difficult. It can take years’ experience — and even with that — loads of trial and error. This is why AI and ML have been integral to solving this challenge.

Where do artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI and ML) come into play with this integration?

Alation was the first company to bring AI and ML into the Data Catalog, building intelligence into the catalog based on our analysis of human behavior: Who knows about the data, what data is most used, popular, and relevant.

We’ve been infusing AI and ML into the backend and the frontend of Alation from the start; this means everything from lexicon and query log processing to our search interface is informed by human behavior (or, to be more clear: the patterns in behavior that AI and ML detect). This is our path to scaling data intelligence. Enhancing the Alation user experience so it’s even easier for business users to get answers to their questions was a bit of a ‘holy grail’ for us, and Lyngo’s AI/ML technology will help us accelerate our efforts there.

It sounds like this is a natural fit. Can you say more about how our two technologies complement each other?

Lyngo will help us broaden the depth and breadth of querying capabilities. Alation’s centralized, collaborative search, annotation, and governance tools allow people to find and contextualize the data sources that they want to query. But this is just step one. Step two is where Lyngo and SQL come in. Lyngo provides an easy, fast, and deep querying capability across a broad spectrum of users for those data sources. It pairs nicely with Alation Compose, our collaborative SQL data exploration app.

The Lyngo technology boasts powerful natural language processing capabilities. As a data catalog, Alation holds both technical metadata, as well as a semantic layer (domains, glossaries, data dictionaries, etc.), which makes it seamless to onboard new data sources that Lyngo’s technology can unlock.

Finally, our mission and vision are in lock step. Like Alation, Lyngo supports innovation through a team-based user interface that makes sharing and reusing analyses easy. From a high level, Lyngo aspires to empower all data people to take a truly data-driven approach for business-critical decisions — something Alation has been focused on since inception.

It sounds like Alation and Lyngo are a natural pairing! Do we have new folks joining our team?

We’re excited to welcome two Lyngo co-founders to Alation. Jennifer Wu will be Senior Director, Product Management, and will report to me. She will be responsible for product strategy and delivery for natural language data search and discovery & exploration experiences. This is key to further democratizing data for business and technical users.

Jennifer brings a wealth of experience in product management, development, and leadership. She’s worked at Cloudera, VMware, and Sun Microsystems. This is the second startup she’s founded. Her first, Blink Computing, delivered a cloud-native SQL engine for computing data on AWS S3. She’s passionate about product strategy for enterprise technologies.

Joachim Rahmfeld will be Senior Director, AI/ML Research, reporting to Junaid Saiyed, Chief Technology Officer. He will be responsible for Alation’s AI and Machine Learning Center of Excellence, building both platform and application experiences that leverage AI & ML to enhance our value for business and technical users.

Joachim is an NLP expert and professor at UC Berkeley. He started his career in theoretical physics, specializing in string theory and black holes, and later managed a team of data scientists at Edison Software. He brings a wealth of experience in academia and AI, and has produced 26 publications.

We’re lucky to have them on the team! Thank you, Raj, for speaking with me today. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Alation as we expand the platform.

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