“The democratization of data and collaborative analytics are the future of business intelligence”

says, Rob Woollen, co-founder and CEO of Sigma Computing, in his interview with Enterprise Talk.

What advantages does real time data analytics offer? How does Sigma add value to it?

The cloud provides the infrastructure necessary to handle large volumes of data that is also changing rapidly. Sigma doesn’t just add value to what real-time A&BI has to offer; Sigma, in conjunction with the rest of the cloud analytics stack, makes real-time A&BI actually possible because it enables business leaders and domain experts to explore and analyze that data faster. With Sigma, users can let the data take them wherever it leads, and then share those discoveries and dashboards with team members, so they can build off of each other’s work. Conversely, legacy A&BI tools require SQL or other coding knowledge so only folks on the data team can really analyze data, which means everyone else has to submit a request and wait for their ticket to be completed, which can take weeks. Real-time analytics isn’t very real-time if you have to wait for someone to build and send you a report.

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The rise of Agile computing – within product teams, in marketing, and across the enterprise – has made real-time analysis and mid- project or campaign pivoting a daily occurrence. Decision-makers no longer have the luxury of waiting two weeks for the data team to fulfill their request. The way companies work now is so much more unified than it was five years ago. Each department must work together, with every employee rowing in the same direction to achieve common objectives. Decisions can no longer be made in a vacuum with data from a single source.

Take marketing as an example. We are entering the Post Digital Era in which both B2C and B2B customers expect personalized products, services, and experiences on demand. Marketing departments use countless tools, from CRMs to email automation and PR performance, to deliver the integrated campaigns that are now the standard. Everything in a marketing campaign is connected, regardless of the channel, and marketing teams need to be able to view and analyze the data that those various tools produce, holistically.

At the end of the day, your marketing program – or your whole business, for that matter – is only as good as your understanding of the bigger picture. If you don’t have the whole picture, you’re going to miss stuff, and, in today’s ultra-competitive, always-on global marketplace, that stuff may turn out to be a matter of success or failure.

Sigma has supported a number of cloud first companies. What does their path to digital transformation look like?

Each of our customers’ stories and use cases are pretty unique, but one thing all of our customers have in common is that they came to the realization that they can no longer take the ‘Ivory Tower’ approach to their A&BI. They discovered that a siloed model is not scalable and would likely contribute to their demise – or at least a significant loss in potential revenue. It wasn’t realistic for them to expect everyone at their company to learn SQL, so they could run their own queries in a traditional BI tool, nor was it safe to do that from a security, governance, and compliance standpoint.

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Since data and its analysis play such a significant role in the growth of a company, what should businesses look for in a Cloud BI & Analytics Platform?

First and foremost, businesses need to find a solution that gives people, who don’t know SQL, the ability to securely, safely, and independently explore data without the fear of “breaking” it or accidently deleting anything. This requires both a user-friendly interface, like a spreadsheet, and a robust set of user roles and permissions, which restrict access to sensitive information at the group or individual level.

Second, data exploration is an iterative and collaborative process, so worksheets and dashboards need to be dynamic and easy to share, so team members can build off of each other’s work.  Collaborative analytics and collective intelligence reduces the time wasted on duplicating work, and increases the potential for new discoveries to be made.

Finally, your chosen platform must be capable of being the single source of truth for a company’s data, keeping data accurate, secure, and in-context.

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How do you deal with the security issues in data analytics on the cloud? How do you ensure complete clarity on the responsibility of ensuring cyber security?

I touched on this in my previous answer, when I mentioned user roles and permissions, but ensuring security obviously goes much deeper than that. Fortunately, the cloud has the potential to be just as secure, if not more secure, than on prem solutions today. CIOs and IT teams just need to know what to look for, to ensure every security precaution and measure is leveraged. They need to look for an A&BI tool that has a direct connection to the cloud data warehouse, so no data is ever stored at rest, cached, copied, or moved. They should also seek out tools with a single point of access, which keeps data centralized, while enforcing governance and compliance standards. Finally, universally accepted standards, protocols, and certifications, from GDPR to SOC 2 Type II and CSA, all need to be considered, before selecting any cloud vendor.

“CIOs and IT teams just need to know what to look for, to ensure every security precaution and measure is leveraged. They need to look for an A&BI tool that has a direct connection to the cloud data warehouse, so no data is ever stored at rest, cached, copied, or moved.”

Rob Woollen, CEO and Co-Founder, at Sigma Computing

Rob has over 20 years of experience building distributed and cloud systems. He spent 6 years at Salesforce.com serving as the CTO for the Salesforce Platform and Work.com and Sr Vice President, Platform Product Management. Rob holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Princeton University.