The “FUTURe” of Working with Data

By Aaron Kalb

Published on February 13, 2020

It’s time for a change.

One of our core values here at Alation is to measure our success through customer impact.

Since we launched, Alation has made it easier for data consumers to find, understand, and trust relevant datasets. Numerous studies had shown that before we introduced the first Machine Learning Data Catalog, analysts and data scientists would spend more than 80% of their time scrounging around for the right data and trying to make sense of it, instead of actually working with it. The efficiency benefits of Alation’s Find–Understand–Trust trifecta were evident, and soon that triad of terms was popping up either verbatim or with slight variations across the market.

But by observing thousands of users at more than a hundred Alation customer companies this past year, it became clear to us that there were even bigger benefits they were seeing from the Alation Data Catalog.

What We Found

First, the Alation Data Catalog was no longer only being consulted before using data; it was getting integrated into data consumers’ flows while they were using data. Thanks to technologies like TrustCheck, the catalog was surfacing recommendations to users in the midst of their work, enabling them to use data with confidence.

Secondly, the catalog was increasingly adding value after data was used by making analytical work discoverable and reusable. Our customers have been telling us shocking stories about how often the same question was being asked over and over in different parts of the organization, with highly paid analysts spending a huge portion of their time unwittingly duplicating efforts and reinventing the wheel. It turns out the fastest analysis is the one you don’t have to do at all. Alation makes it possible to find prior results with natural language search so analysts never waste their time on mere do-overs. For example, according to one of our customers, GoDaddy, when analysts go searching for data, 80% of the time they find an existing data asset that can be used without having to do new analytics. This allows GoDaddy to focus on deep dives into the data.

When they find an existing analysis, curious analysts don’t just go home early: they build off that work by asking follow up questions and going deeper. Reuse of analysis doesn’t just save time: it changes the culture of organizations to be more like scientific communities—driven by inquiry, reproducibility, and intellectual discourse.

How Our Customers See Value

Since our founding, our vision has been to empower a curious and rational world. We’re delighted to see our customers increasingly using our technology to fulfill that vision in their organizations.

Now, in recognition of how our customers are increasingly seeing value from Alation’s ability to improve the use of data and reuse of others’ work, we’re talking about our impact differently and extending the triad of Find-Understand-Trust by appending Use-Reuse. The “rule of three” suggests that the human brain is much better able to remember a set of three things than five, but luckily, our new sequence of benefits—Find-Understand-Trust-Use-Reuse—carries its own mnemonic: the five steps spell out FUTURe.

That’s fitting because we and our customers see a future in which no one has to scrounge for information, guess whether a number is accurate or what it means in context, or recreate an analysis which someone else has done.

Today, big, complex data environments make analytics inefficient and inaccurate:

  • When you want to work with data today, you have to

    • Ask around for a relevant data set,

    • Guess how to interpret it,

    • Hope that you’re right, and

    • Attempt to use the data while crossing your fingers… thereby often producing an inaccurate result.

  • Then, when the next data seeker comes along, they have to

    • Start over from scratch — wasting valuable time.

That’s an appallingly arduous, risky,and wasteful process—the steps even spell AGHASt. It’s time to put AGHASt in the past:

Alation changes everything.

  • With Alation…

    • you don’t have to scrounge around and phone a friend. Instead, you can

      • Find a relevant data set quickly with a simple natural language interface.

  • Instead of guessing, you can

    • Understand how to interpret it with a clear catalog page.

  • Rather than just hoping, you can

    • Trust that you’re right, based on quality indicators and social signals.

  • Then you can

    • Use the data with confidence for quick, correct decisions.

  • And perhaps most powerful of all, others can then

    • Reuse and build upon your work,

      • leaving your organization with more time for deeper, more impactful analysis.

In Conclusion

What’s that spell? FUTURe. Alation is the FUTURe of working with data, and in an age where all work is knowledge work, that means Alation is the future of work. If that’s too hard to remember, we like to think that Alation is the future. The future starts now.

  • What We Found
  • How Our Customers See Value
  • In Conclusion
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