Rehan Sadiq, the Director of Strategic Alliances with Trifacta, is responsible for the Public Sector vertical as well as the Global AWS ecosystem, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding how the company's offerings have enabled both commercial and federal clients to leverage data to gain deeper insights.
He also discussed how the ability to democratize data preparation by infusing it in an elegant and automated manner has increased the speed and quality of data outcomes, and enabled customers to overcome challenges.
ExecutiveBiz: As the amount of available data continues to increase, how does Trifacta integrate solutions to expand capacity, scale as well as automation and support analytics?
“You are absolutely correct in stating that the amount of available data has increased significantly. I read an interesting statistic recently ““ 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in just the past 5 years. As a matter of fact, data volume is increasing at a CAGR (Compound Aggregate Growth Rate) of about 65 percent per year. The sheer amount of information available within the world today is astounding.
Our customers want to take the immense amount of data and create insights out of it. However, if you take a look at most data projects, what you find is that you’re going to spend about 80 percent of your time doing what is referred to as the data wrangling or curation.
That is customers will literally spend most of their time connecting to, collecting, consolidating, managing, preparing, stitching together, cleaning and curating data to prepare it and all those activities take away the time they could be spending analyzing and determining the best possible actions to take to get to preferred outcomes.
This data wrangling hurdle affects the investments they have made in business intelligence applications, advanced analytics offerings and other areas that they are investing in for digital transformation. Trifacta helps to correct that ratio so that people can spend more time getting relevant insights and less time manipulating and shaping data“.
ExecutiveBiz: How does Trifacta leverage solutions to improve data quality and insights?
“Trifacta was founded with a simple sincere mission: Let us allow people that know the data best and are in many cases end users of that data to be involved in cleaning, preparing and shaping it. We do NOT want them reliant on custom code and we do NOT want them employing legacy technical solutions that will not meet the need for reduced bottlenecks and growth to cloud scale. In addition, we have continued to invest in ground-breaking ways to incorporate data quality functions into our offering. If data is the new oil or the new electricity ““ then think of Trifacta as the new refinery or the new power management grid.
The founders of Trifacta came from the academic arena. They are leading computer scientists and thought leaders from Berkeley and Stanford. They came across the aforementioned data management problem when our current chief technology officer and founder, Sean Kandel (MS in Math from Berkeley and PhD in Computer Science from Stanford), was hired by a large hedge fund to write the next generation of machine learning algorithms to hedge the financial markets.
Sean found that 80 percent or more of his time was spent data wrangling. He worked to find a better way to solve this issue. He, with two of his PhD advisors (Dr. Joe Hellerstein and Dr. Jeff Heer), conducted a market survey, which found that the majority of respondents tried to manage this problem by either writing custom code or using legacy ETL products to copy entire data sets into third party applications.
Both of those options are severe bottlenecks in terms of productivity and neither democratize data preparation functions. Our founders asked themselves how to best “˜democratize' the function of data preparation and get to radical productivity. They created literally THE BEST solution to do just that.
Our application fundamentally enables people with an analyst skill set to shape, prepare, curate and wrangle data. We are able to do that because our application is so easy to use while at the same time being deep enough and flexible enough so that it can allow for everything from simple transformations to complex conditional logic and data science functions.
Therefore, we can be used across personas ranging from data analysts, to data engineers and even data scientists. We fundamentally behave like a low-code ““ no code engine for data transformation.”
ExecutiveBiz: How does Trifacta leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to support analytics and automation?
“AI and ML are amazing capabilities. One of the greatest advantages of Trifacta is not only can we integrate with and support highly differentiated ML and AI platforms, but we also have infused AI/ML into our product set as well. As an example, users of Trifacta will find that our product will actually provide a series of visual cues to identify issues within the data. In addition, we have an Advanced Data Quality module that will pro-actively suggest data quality rules based on characteristics and implied relationships within the data. We will also allow users to preview the impact of a change prior to putting it into production.
It is also important to understand that although we can support completely automated use cases it is important to rely on a “˜human brain' that is augmented by a “˜machine brain.' Meaning ““ that we feel very strongly that AI/ML is a tool to be leveraged and NOT used to replace the human being that is responsible for utilizing AI/ML.”
ExecutiveBiz: How does Trifacta integrate its capabilities to support the federal sector?
“Trifacta supports the Federal Sector in many ways. We are very cognizant of the challenges and mission requirements of our customers and future customers alike. Government agencies are keen to leverage innovative capabilities that help further their mission, support constituents and provide meaningful impact to the nation.
At the same time in most Agency CIO offices there is a push to leverage accepted standards and security measures. We help that mission by supporting relevant standards and compliance guidelines as well as meeting the mark for open-ness and flexibility. We have a flexible architecture that allows us to offer true “˜cloud choice' to our customers. We work with all the major cloud platforms, relevant data sources, processing engines and the likes.
In short ““ we offer our customers the ability to operate within a variety of environments, security standards, classified and unclassified environments etc. In addition, we have several partners that have created solutions around our offering. Google for example leverages Trifacta with Google Cloud Data Prep and AWS has selected us for an initiative labeled Automated Intelligent Data Preparation for AI/ML ““ and there are several other key integration points with other ISV's (Databricks, Snowflake etc).
No one company can meet the varied needs of a customer like the Federal Government. It is an important customer, and it is imperative that we work with our SI Delivery partners, ISV's and the end customer ““ all of whom are a part of our supported constituency.
We are very proud of our Federal Customers. Currently, OSD Comptroller, USAF, Navy, FDA, CDC, NASA, HHS and several others leverage Trifacta across a wide array of use cases. We look to be even more essential to them and others in the future. We want to ensure that we’re effective stewards of the taxpayer dollar. That's what drives Trifacta every day: making sure that we’re helping people make sense of big data.“
ExecutiveBiz: Moving into 2021, where do you see the company growing in solutions and markets?
“We could not be more excited for 2021. Recently we grew our business to support the Public Sector by making key hires and organizational changes. We promoted our former DoD/IC Sales Director Brian Shealey to run our public sector business and moved our former VP (Ron Ziegler) to a more prominent role within the company.
In a word, our plan is to become more essential to our customers and be laser focused on driving their important missions to success. The COVID era has been interesting. It has seen many of our capabilities take center stage as agencies try to make sense of the important data elements that are going to be necessary to get our country back to health.
If you look at the junction as to where we are and where we came from, Trifacta has helped democratize critical functions of the data management and the data preparation process. This has been very helpful in solving this overall crisis.“