Solutions Review recently had the chance to interview Pyramid Analytics‘ CTO Avi Perez to discuss the vendor’s recent release of Pyramid 2018. Perez also dives into some of the company’s strategic plays and how they are thinking about the future of BI and analytics. We also asked Perez about the current market conditions and got him to talk about the company’s recent inclusion in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms.
We covered a lot of ground in our conversation, so without further ado here’s our interview edited slightly for readability and length.
SR: Which market conditions led Pyramid Analytics to the development of Pyramid 2018? What has the reception been like from your customers?
AP: First, there has been a huge boom in the amount of data. Most realize that data is a monetizable commodity and that it’s a strategic and competitive weakness if they can’t find a way to leverage value out of their data assets.
Second, a growing number of organizations understand you cannot just provide data analysis capabilities to two percent of your users. They know they need to provide everyone with the tools to analyze their data. After all, what’s the point of collecting and storing the data if you don’t allow people to see and make decisions with it?
Given these two conditions, organizations need to be able to deliver a platform that is:
- Easy to deploy
- Provides utility to high end and everyday users alike
While you can’t make everyone a data scientist, if you focus on making 80 percent of your user base happy, and if you provide them with a business analysis tool that provides useful data insights, you can make your analytics implementation successful.
So far, reception of Pyramid 2018 in the marketplace has been incredible. Prospects and customers alike are extremely intrigued by our platform’s combination of capabilities. We believe our product looks the part, is easy to use but doesn’t skimp on analytic depth, works in any browser, sits on any data stack, features incredible performance, and delivers on the promise of true enterprise analytics software. Our initial success (in terms of new customers) has validated our belief that we’re on the path to the creation of a truly differentiated business intelligence/analytics solution that the market needs.
SR: In your opinion, what is it that organizations are looking for in a BI and analytics solution?
AP: CDOs are looking for an analytics platform that everyone can use—or at least 80 percent of the organization can use. But they also need a solution that delivers sophisticated analytics to the advanced users within the organization.
They also are looking for a flexible analytics solution that can connect all their data stacks directly—not through an in-memory or intermediary engine. The reality for most mid-market and enterprise organizations with sophisticated data needs is that they may have dozens of data sources. Some of these sources are traditional, but others contain unstructured data. Organizations need to be able to connect to any or all these sources directly, easily, and without limits.
The other key element is the newfound demand for machine learning and AI driven technologies. That not only means access to such technologies to be implemented by the customer, but also access to capabilities that will help a customer’s users use BI better.
In effect the CDO needs to deliver on yesterday’s analytics objectives better and also deliver on the AI promise of tomorrow.
SR: Does Pyramid Analytics subscribe to the belief that self-service is now the dominant force in the marketplace?
AP: Yes, we believe that self-service analytics is the dominant force in the marketplace—and for good reason. It’s the key to scalability and to a genuine data-driven enterprise. However, the need for governance and security hasn’t magically gone away. Those concepts remain sacrosanct for any large organization with lots of data and typical business logic requirements. Data analysis requires consistency—thus it requires tools that builds rigor throughout the whole analysis process.
So self-service capabilities with governance is the real force at the moment, especially in larger deployments.
SR: Pyramid was named to the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and BI Platforms. What does that mean to you? Do you have any thoughts about the process for inclusion?
AP: Making Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is a tremendous achievement. We’re among the top 20 vendors in the space—this is significant when you consider the vast market for BI tools. And keep in mind that Gartner’s most recent MQ evaluated our previous version of our product (BI Office). Pyramid 2018 represents a quantum leap in offering and capabilities over the previous product base, and advances the vision and scope of our product significantly. We expect that as the rate of market uptake increases in the upcoming year, our position has the potential to shift noticeably.
SR: What is your stance on the merging of related technology categories? Specifically what we’re seeing with data integration, preparation, and even data management.
AP: We believe that end user data prep tools need to be integrated into an analytics platform. It’s such a vital part of the analytics workflow (especially in the self-service space) and shouldn’t be set off as an activity that takes place in a separate product, or is performed by IT. This demand is further accelerated and accentuated by the need to inject machine learning into the BI space. Machine learning can only be integrated properly as part of data prep.
To that end, our end-user data flow really revolutionizes the data prep process by integrating directly into a complete platform alongside discovery, presentation, and reporting applications. This gives end users the ability to prep data on their own, inject real world machine learning technologies and processes at the right place in the analytics stack, and then share it conveniently with other.
Historically, there has been a split between BI tools that can perform business analytics (descriptive analytics) and advanced analytics (predictive or prescriptive analytics). Most analytics vendors do one or the other. Other vendors offer both, but through disparate tools and products. We do both in the same, cohesive application. Our platform encourages a broad base of users in the organization to leverage intuitive tools to explore data to find answers. Pyramid 2018 features advanced analytics tools that equally give citizen data scientists the means to find answers for advanced questions and business problems.
SR: What are some of the most important questions organizations should be asking during the research and buying phases when looking for BI and analytics?
AP: Three questions rise to the top. First, “How do we get the most numbers of people within our organization to use data to drive their decisions?” Second, “How can I leverage my existing data environment to deliver results with the fastest time to value without re-engineering the whole thing?” Third, “What type of solution will give me both a solid ROI for today’s analytic needs, while also providing me with a real-world solution for the demands of tomorrow’s advanced analytic ML projects?
SR: Where is the BI and analytics market headed in the next five or ten years? Where does Pyramid see itself positioned in that scheme?
AP: Data has gotten too big, changes too rapidly, and is too messy for traditional BI or personal productivity tools. Especially desktop-bound applications. The world has also moved on from simple visualizations and descriptive analytic applications.
Pyramid’s approach is to bring scale, depth, and sophistication to the problem by delivering an ultra-new and modern experience in a cutting-edge web application. That means giving more users the ability to touch data, easily and intelligently; integrating the latest technologies for data consumption and analysis; bringing the power of the collective to the world of data-driven decision making; and incorporating the most advanced machine learning technologies to the masses.
Pyramid expects to be a key instrument in making the sophisticated very simple as it drives towards a solution that can offer the ultimate goal of self-optimized decisions.
As CTO and co-founder, Avi Perez is the visionary responsible for creating, developing, and managing Pyramid Analytics’ original BI Office enterprise analytics platform as well as the all-new Pyramid 2018 Analytics OS. In addition to driving the company’s long-term technology roadmap, Perez oversees corporate strategy and all aspects of the company’s R&D efforts. Prior to this role, he was co-founder and development manager of Urix, a successful U.S.-based healthcare informatics company. There, he architected several proprietary Urix analytical systems and became an industry authority on the latest advances in online analytics.