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Sunday, 07 October 2018 21:57

Your business can't get maximum value out of your data if it's not clean, says Talend


Talend is a data-cleaning company with a billion-dollar market value. Chief executive Mike Tuchen says many companies are missing out on extracting the maximum value out of their data.

“We’re probably 10 years into a 20- to 30-year shift to the cloud,” says Tuchen, “accelerating as more and more companies recognise cloud is where they are going and make a shift to it.”

This move doesn’t simply include infrastructure and core applications, but also the capability to leverage data using the power cloud computing brings, opening up end-to-end analytic scenarios, data lakes and machine learning.

Correspondingly, the move to greater use of data brings a desire and need for increased self-service. Reporting and specific drill-downs are no longer the exclusive domain of the IT department, with business units able to do it themselves. “It’s a revolution, with many people directly involved with data,” says Tuchen.

“It’s happening more and more in real-time. Our own expectations for how a company uses data have changed dramatically. When I was a kid, I would make a deposit in the bank and the next day I might see it show. Now if I deposit a cheque I expect to see the balance updated immediately. This is universal across social media and enterprise technology.”

Yet, many companies have a lot of data but are unable to use it effectively. “It’s in many locations, it’s inconsistent, it’s in bad formats, and people can’t make use of it,” Tuchen explains.

To illustrate, he told iTWire any company that has you as a customer probably has 15 to 30 different systems all with a “David Williams” in them. “You’ll find there’s a different version of ‘David Williams’ in each of those and they’re not the same – some have an old address, or phone or email, and some will show a certain set of purchases and others a different set. Some will have a set of support issues and some won’t,” he said.

“Probably the biggest issue is misspellings in your name or other things, and it may not even be clear the records are the same person, or maybe they are two different people and it’s not clear they are different.”

These are real-world problems. “If companies can correct all the errors and get a consistent number — not five versions, say — if they do that well, they can start to figure out based on what you’ve bought what are you likely to buy? What should we recommend? What are the most effective sales and marketing campaigns? Should we do more of those? These are some examples of basic data problems,” he said.

Another thing Talend sees is a very strong demand for data governance, says Steve Singer, ANZ country manager.

“Data governance is the whole range of solutions that help companies answer questions about how they get their data. If you're a bank and you deliver a report, a question a lot of the regulators have is where did all this data come from? Can you trace that back through all your systems and say where it came from and be sure the data is correct? Who did what to the data along the way? Who has rights to it? Where is all my data? Where are all the different places? All of these problems are governance problems,” he says.

Currently, the majority of conversations with new prospective customers begin with data governance, Tuchen says.

This is where a solution like Talend comes in; “we’re solving the first mile of the data problem,” he says.

The product is based on an open source core with a free offering. “Companies of all sizes can make use of it because it is free,” Tuchen says.

A commercial subscription version also exists, containing support for high availability, scalability, reliability, multiple teams and other features.

Talend was founded in 2005, providing a data fabric software platform that integrates data and applications in real-time across modern big data and cloud environments. The company targets the US$2.7 billion data integration tools market, selling subscriptions to software to clean up data errors and get value from data used to make decisions. The company had an IPO in July 2016 and its stock has increased 146% since.

“What brought me in to Talend five years ago was waking up broadly to how important data is in driving business success. Customers growing more aggressively are the ones using data successfully. Data has changed from a competitive advantage to a competitive requirement for late adopters,” Tuchen says.

Australian Talend customers include:

  1. the Australian Taxation Office, working on a multi-year project to use data to drive better relationships with the public;
  2. Australian Energy Market Operator, leveraging machine learning to build predictive models of energy needs across the country; and
  3. Class Superannuation, building software for the superannuation industry, now able to bring together management and operating reporting on a daily basis vs. the week or two it previously required.

Tuchen also has advice on building a company successfully.

  1. The most important lesson of all is having the right team. “You have to build a team not only individually, but one that works together. A capital T team that’s healthy and rooting for each other. By far this is the most important thing to get right,” he says.
  2. Building a strategy that makes sense – understand your competitors, customers, and market. “It’s a chess game of outthinking competitors.”
  3. Execution, priorities and communication. “Deliver on your priorities each quarter.”

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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