Posts Tagged ‘Analytics’

Data analytics startup SimpleQL suggests questions

April 3rd, 2014

SimpleQL thinks the best way to bring business intelligence to people who’ve never drilled into big data is to help them decide what they want to know.

At the heart of the startup’s cloud-based offering, which will enter public beta on Thursday at Demo Enterprise in San Francisco, is a field where users can type in questions in a query language that’s easy to use, according to CEO Scot Gensler. The interface looks like Google’s search box and acts somewhat like it, too. Just as Google does, SimpleQL brings up other possible ways to complete the query.

From there, SimpleQL can answer queries with automatically generated charts. It can also be used to create alarms and regularly scheduled reports.

Other companies have been working on making useful data easier for average employees to extract, including through Google Search-like interfaces. SimpleQL says its approach can help non-technical people become familiar with doing data analytics and to come up with new and useful questions, Gensler said.

“It’s all about the query interface that [presents] proactive suggestions that get smarter over time,” he said.

While business intelligence tools have improved in recent years, they are still mostly used by IT departments and data analytics specialists who run queries or create tools for other employees to use, according to Gensler. “The fundamental workflows haven’t changed,” he said.

SimpleQL is designed to put the same kind of analytical power into the hands of people all over an organization. It works on standard Web browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple’s Safari, and a dedicated mobile app is on the company’s long-term radar.

The company breaks down analytical queries into building blocks, each of which is a unique code base, and reassembles those blocks based on the semantics of the underlying data source. Each database or application has its own semantics for deriving answers from the data contained within. SimpleQL can map its software to applications and public databases in advance and can do the same for most private databases in a matter of hours, Gensler said.

SimpleQL already works with Salesforce and Atlassian’s Jira project management application, with Google Analytics coming soon. It also works with one public database, the CrunchBase repository of information on startups. To make the system work with private databases, SimpleQL spends about half a day analyzing the data and learning about the company’s terminology and how they think about the data, Gensler said.

To continually improve suggestions, SimpleQL can aggregate queries made by users of specific applications.

“We now have tons of users in the system using Salesforce,” Gensler said. “So we get a network effect of learning about, ‘How is the language working for different functional executives?’”

When a user starts typing words into SimpleQL’s search box, the system automatically completes potentially useful questions. Below those suggestions are relevant topic areas that the user can click on to generate still more suggested questions.

For example, a human resources executive might type “how many employees per salary range -50k-75k-100k-” to generate a pie chart that breaks down pay levels inside their company. SimpleQL would automatically generate other possible questions: From “how many,” it might generate “departments with more than 10 female employees each with age > 50″ and let the searcher scroll down to choose that query.

Over time, SimpleQL will use aggregated data from other users of applications or databases to generate more useful suggestions.

One company SimpleQL has been working with is a large telecommunications carrier with a proprietary field operations database. The database contains a wealth of information, such as how many times the carrier has visited a customer’s home and what service was performed. Today, the carrier has a team of specialists dedicated to producing reports. SimpleQL would let customer service representatives, field managers and other employees draw up their own reports, Gensler said.

The company was founded about two years ago by two former Cisco Systems executives based in Israel, Yossi Shani and Tal Cohen, now the chief programming officer and head of engineering. It has just five employees and operates out of Runway, a coworking space in the same building as Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. SimpleQL says it already has 10 enterprise customers signed on to use the product.


Predixion Offers Free Analytics Software To Universities

January 29th, 2014

Predixion Software, a Southern California-based provider of predictive analytics tools, has officially launched a program to provide its software free of charge to universities around the world.

In a phone interview with InformationWeek, Predixion Software CEO Simon Arkell said the program has two main goals: To give students hands-on experience in using predictive analytics to develop data models, and to seed businesses with workers who are trained on — or at least familiar with — Predixion’s software.

The software “is cloud-based, so it’s readily accessible by anyone who has Excel and an Internet connection,” said Arkell. “We’re already being used by a number of universities, [where] students learn data mining and predictive analytics without having to be pure data scientists.”

A small number of US schools, including the University of Washington, University of Western Michigan, St. Joseph University, and the University of Maryland University College, are already using the company’s predictive analytics software, the company said.

Predixion offers a limited, free version of its software to the general public, but its education edition goes a step further by providing all the training materials, labs, and other courseware that Predixion supplies to its paying clients.

The company’s education program follows an established trend among big-data vendors intent on developing the next generation of data scientists and expanding their market presence.

IBM, for instance, is working with a select group of US universities to develop courses that provide analytics skills required for today’s business environment. And database software provider Teradata offers a free, Web-based certification training program for university students interested in becoming a Teradata Certified Professional or Certified Associate.

Predixion says its effort is designed to help alleviate the predicted shortage of data scientists. In additional to teaching data science skills, the company’s software simplifies complex predictive analytics tasks, said Arkell, and allows a larger pool of business users to engage in data-science activities previously limited to a highly educated few.

“We’ve extracted the complexity away for those who don’t need it,” Arkell said. “Someone with a regular business analytical background can get up and running, and create value for themselves and their company very quickly.”

More-technical users can dig deeper, however.

“We have the ability to drill down and go into the algorithm, if you like, for [experienced] data scientists,” said Arkell. “But it’s all automated and not needed if the user doesn’t have that skill set.”

Predixion’s university program copies “a page from Apple’s playbook,” he added.

“They were giving Apple computers away 30 years old, very inexpensively, in order to get the next generation of computer users … and of course Apple has done extremely well,” Arkell said. “We think it’s a great idea because it will allow us to have thousands and thousands of students who end up going into the workforce and picking Predixion as their tool of choice.”

He said it’s easy for students to get started. “They download the software… and they’re off and running very quickly. We provide to the university free-of-charge training materials, so that they can put together courses and coursework for their students,” he said.

Arkell added, “We’ve not only taken away the complexity by allowing a much greater subset of users, potentially, to use this, [but also] by providing the free software and course works to the universities to grow whole new breeds of business analysts and predictive analysts.”


For Indian tech startups, Obamacare mean big bucks as 45 mn Americans pick health covers

August 12th, 2013

A number of young Indian companies that make specialised software and analytics for global healthcare providers are recording a sharp upswing in business as millions of uninsured Americans enroll in a new healthcare system.

These firms provide data analytics, create and manage healthcare exchanges, electronic health records and help process claims and sell insurance as the United States companies prepare to adopt the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise referred to as Obamacare after President Barack Obama, that comes into force on January 1, 2014.

Chennai-based Scio Analytics, Noida’s hCentive, which designs insurance policies, and cloud technology provider SmartRx are some of the firms gaining new customers from investors.

“We earn revenues by giving our clients a fishing rod or teaching them how to fish and sometimes catching the fish ourselves,” said Siva Namasivayam, chief executive of SCIO Health Analytics. The five-year old company provides insights to insurance firms that helps cut costs and tailor products according to the needs of the consumers.

Scio, co-founded by Namasivayam with a former colleague Krishna Kottapalli and a batch mate from the National Institute of Technology in Trichy, Karthik Krishnaswami, has recorded a nearly four-fold increase in revenue and aims to earn 300 crore this fiscal, as demand for its services grows rapidly.

These emerging ventures are looking to gain a toehold in the global healthcare benefits outsourcing market estimated at $5.4 billion (about Rs 29,000 crore) annually, according to offshore advisory firm Everest Group.

“Healthcare is the next Y2K problem in the US,” said Ramesh Babu, a cardiologist who is now a venture partner with the Ventureast Tenet Fund. In April, the fund invested seed capital of Rs 2.7 crore in Bangalore-based SmartRX, which helps doctors implement a patient monitoring system. “Due to Obamacare, we are expecting a ten-fold growth in our business,” said Anil Kumar, founder of SmartRx and an engineer from the University of Mysore.

Experts said while IT services companies including Cognizant, Infosys, TCS and WiproBSE 1.42 % are also eyeing these opportunities, small firms are stealing a march. “Large IT services players are providing raw plumbing, but these young product companies are providing informatics which is intelligence,” said Ajit Singh, a partner at venture capital fund Artiman Ventures.

“Insurgents don’t have the inhibition of incumbents or large companies,” said Singh whose fund has invested in Gurgaon-based data analytics company Guavus.

With nearly 45 million Americans expected to pick the right health cover on specially designed healthcare exchanges, private healthcare providers competing to offer the best cover are looking for critical data analysis.


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