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August - 2014 - issue > Cover Story
ClearStory Data: Empowering Enterprises to Utilize Data in Innovative Ways
Anitha TS
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
In the recent past, the role of varied forms of data has evolved surpassing the expectations. A few years ago, the concepts of data assorting or analytics mainly applied to specialists, or statisticians. Considering this, it could be said that the last few years have been exceptionally transformational for the big data sector. Today, data of any form would fail to be restrictive in its nature and applications, as Big Data becomes the latest buzzword in the industry.

With data assortment or analysis turning into the lifeline of any organization, the time is perfect for taking one's efforts towards better data to a new level. Statistics reveal much about what to expect in the coming years. A recent survey indicated that from this year, the volume of data handled by an organization would double within every 1.2 years. In all probability, organizations would be forced to adapt fundamental changes into their core-functioning, so as to cope with the constantly increasing volumes of data. This scenario, without doubt, is unique in many ways, as these developments, though highly challenging, opens up a new door of opportunities for firms involved in the vast big data space. Moreover, the imminent future appears promising with firms across the globe showing active interest in closely following and leveraging these trends for better outcomes.

It is tempting to be a part of the hyper-active big data sector, says, Sharmila Mulligan, CEO and Founder, ClearStory Data, a MenloPark, CA based firm, which has carved a niche among the companies involved in the industry, within a short span of three years. Since 2011, ClearStory has made a smooth transition to the top, without ever moving from their objective of simplifying accessing, exploring and analyzing data. Besides, there has always been a great focus on functioning as an integrated Application and Platform speeding analysis across various sources of internal and external data.

ClearStory Data makes it easy to gather and explore diverse, dispersed sets of data from internal data sources, corporate data sources, Hadoop and the Web to help business users to gain insights and discover new business opportunities. The firm analyzes data from a number of sources, both public and private, to uncover new trends and patterns. The result of this is the discovery of new business opportunities and deeper intelligence around what is and isn't working.

The company's platform integrates internal and external data using an in-memory database technology. This can be relational or NoSQL data, point-of-sale information or demographic statistics from external sources. ClearStory maintains that it gives companies an advantage by processing multiple types of data on the fly with a modern, visual user interface that people can access. This was recognized by Yogurt-maker Dannon who is today using ClearStory to bring together data to collaborate on the analysis of the company's supply chain.

A Humble Beginning

For Sharmila and Vaibhav Nivargi, founders of ClearStory Data, it was a start from scratch, and an impressive ascend to fame, that too within a short span of three years. Before deciding to go ahead with ClearStory, Muligan had different stints with other big data companies, which later on functioned as a strong platform for her experiments with big data through her own company. In addition, Muligan has carried out key roles in different organizations belonging to varied verticals. She drove the development of several multi-billion dollar market categories, such as application servers, data center automation, to name a few.

Nivargi, a high performance data expert, has worked with the industry's leading names. Association with different organizations like Aster Data has made him an expert in Distributed Systems, High-performance data processing, WAFL filesystem, and several others. Today, the strong technical team coming from big data and technical background is the pillar of support which enables the company to view and leverage data as a distinct competitive advantage.
The board of directors at ClearStory, extends exceptional support at all levels. Every one of the directors has owned a company before, thereby being able to provide unique insights into different scenarios.

When founded, ClearStory could raise funding from top investors including Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. This had been a great achievement which in turn fuelled the company's growth. Today, the company has raised a total of $31.5 billion, through Series A and B funding, from different investors.

The Motivational Factors

On the creation of ClearStory, Muligan explains "we were motivated by the concept of easing access to data from different sources, harmonizing the data thus obtained for faster insights, as well as discovering more as data updates". Yet another motivational aspect was being able to collaborate on insights so that everyone could arrive at speedy decisions. Continues Muligan "We were confident that we would be able to make the aforesaid aspects easier for all, and thus ClearStory Data was initiated".

It remains as the biggest differentiating factor for the company that with ClearStory, one would be able to easily access and connect to private data sources, drag-and-drop files besides readily accessing external data. For all available sources, ClearStory enables conversion of disparate data on the fly.

More than anything else, while accessing these internal or external sources, one doesn't have to utilize pre-modeling or technical skills, which fails to be the case with several other data analytics firms.

The second aspect about the data analytics services is the speed at which processes are carried out. The whole concept behind speedy process is to observe data more quickly and accurately through smart visualizations that permits deep discovery and diagnosis.

"While converging data from various sources, the need for smarter visualizations becomes more relevant. We introspect the selected data to automatically translate it into smart and best-fit visualizations. Further, these visualizations are available for immediate view in Data Stories, thereby paving the way for a faster, deeper discovery and analysis", Muligan provides insights into the advantages of a speedy access.

Thirdly, Intelligent Data Harmonization is another stand-out feature of ClearStory Data, through which system-driven data analysis is accelerated to highly desirable levels. What takes place in the process is that through the Intelligent Data Harmonization incorporated into ClearStory, data relationships across disparate data sources could be identified. Following this, on-the-fly conversion of data is made possible. The aim of the process is to identify holistic and interactive answers faster.

In a nutshell, the ability to harmonize internal or external data sources, or various data sources through a user module which doesn't require any technical expertise and the speed at which the process takes places are the most unique aspects of Clear Story Data.

The Present ClearStory Data

Today, the firm caters to different verticals including Consumer Packaged Goods, Food and Beverage, Retail, Healthcare and Life Services, which according to Muligan are the big four verticals. Extending their reach further, financial services has been recently added to the areas of focus. Towards the future, Media and Entertainment is going to be another big vertical for ClearStory.

Muligan is convinced with the rate at which her firm has grown, "It has been a quick start for us, and today, we are gaining momentum with our services being in high-demand. We are working with world's leading organizations".

A wide-spread presence has also been a key factor in their success. Based in Menlo Park, the firm has strong presence in geographies including Chicago and New York. Muligan is confident that the next two years would witness the firm establishing itself in potential Geographies including London.

Extending Hi-end Support

Dannon Yogurt, a Gilbert, AZ headquartered company, with a wide ranging presence faced the requirement of carrying out a daily analysis to combine the entire information on the latest trends, market analysis, suppliers and other aspects under a common roof. An opportunity with Dannon proved as a great responsibility as well as opportunity for the firm, still in its initial stages then, to come out with exceptional strategies.

ClearStory, on the way to a well-fitting solution, had utmost focus on accelerating their client's growth. Therefore, it was made possible to analyze and locate data, in a very high frequency way. The solutions were aimed at driving more consumers and resulting in an overall growth of company.

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