Data management takes center stage at Rutberg 2017 conference

Each year, research-centric investment bank Rutberg & Company gathers top business leaders and technology experts for an intimate, two-day forum where they discuss and debate the technology, ideas, and trends driving global business. The annual Rutberg 2017 conference took place last week in Half Moon Bay, California, and data management was front and center.

SnapLogic CEO Gaurav Dhillon joined Mesosphere CEO Florian Leibert and Segment CEO Peter Reinhardt for a spirited panel discussion on the growing data management opportunities and challenges facing enterprises today. The panel was moderated by Fortune reporter Jonathan Vanian.

A number of important data management and integration trends emerged, including:

  • LOB’s influence grows: Gaurav noted that more and more, “innovation is coming from the LOB,” whether in Sales, Marketing, Finance, HR, or elsewhere in the organization. These LOB leaders are tech-savvy, are responsible for their own P&L’s, and they know speed and agility will determine tomorrow’s winners. So they’re constantly on the hunt for the latest tech solutions that will drive innovation, spur growth, and help them beat the competition.
  • Data fragmentation on the rise: With individual LOBs procuring a flurry of new cloud applications and technologies, the result is often business silos and a disconnected enterprise. “The average enterprise has 10x more SaaS apps than a CIO thinks,” said Gaurav of the increasing SaaS sprawl, which is requiring CIOs to think differently about how they integrate and manage disparate apps and data sources across the enterprise.
  • Self-service integration is here to stay: The bigger a company gets – with more apps, more end-points, more data-types, more fragmentation – there’s never going to be enough humans to manage the required integration in a timely manner, explained Gaurav. Enter new, modern, self-service integration platforms. “The holy grail of integration is self-service and ease-of-use … we have to bring integration out of the dungeon and into the light,” Gaurav continued. And this means getting integration into the hands of the LOB, and making it fast and easy. The days of command-and-control by IT are over: “Trying to put the genie back in the bottle is wrong; instead you need to give the LOBs a self-service capability to wire this up on their own,” noted Gaurav.
  • AI will be a game-changer: Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are already making apps, platforms, and people smarter. Like with Google auto-complete or shopping on Amazon, we’re already becoming accustomed to assistance from, and recommendations by, machines. “Software without AI will be like Microsoft Word or email without spell-check,” it will be jarring not to have it, said Gaurav. AI is already being applied to complex tasks like app and data integration; it’s not a future state, he said, the start of “self-driving integration is happening today.”
  • The enterprise is a retrofit job: For all the latest advances – new cloud apps, AI and ML technologies, self-service integration platforms – the enterprise remains a “retrofit job,” where the new must work with the old. Large, global enterprises aren’t about to throw out decades of technology investment all at once, particularly if it is working just fine or well-suited to handle certain business processes. So, new cloud technologies will need to work with older on-premise solutions, once again cementing integration platforms as a critical piece of an enterprise technology strategy. “It will be a hybrid world for a long, long time,” concluded Gaurav.

Without question, data has become any organization’s most valuable asset, and those that are able to integrate, manage, and analyze data effectively will be the winners of tomorrow.

SnapLogic recognized by Mogul as top workplace for millennial women

By Laura Selig

At SnapLogic, we know that a diverse workplace powers innovation and drives growth. Only by bringing in people with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives can we truly build an innovative company for the ages.

So we were thrilled to learn that SnapLogic has been recognized as a top employer for millennial women by Mogul, a leading technology platform and recruiting site that enables professional women around the world to connect, share information and knowledge, and network. We’re proud to report that SnapLogic was ranked #21 on Mogul’s list of the Top 100 Companies For Millennial Women in 2017.

Based on two years of interviews, surveys, and research, Mogul set out to identify the top 100 companies worldwide that are actively leading initiatives to achieve gender equity in the workplace. Mogul notes, with millennials increasingly joining and impacting the workforce, these 100 companies “collectively have the opportunity to shape workplace innovation and accelerate cultural transformation.”

At SnapLogic, more than 30 percent of our global employees in engineering or technical roles are women – higher than the industry average – and we’re working hard to drive this number even higher by fostering a work environment that is focused on inclusiveness and continuous career development. Additionally, SnapLogic’s affinity group, Women@SnapLogic, provides an internal networking group for women to build community and discuss topics relevant to women in the workplace. Female engineers at SnapLogic are working on breakthrough projects in cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and more, helping to drive our innovation agenda forward.

Are you passionate about technology and looking to put your skills and experience to work at a dynamic, innovative enterprise software upstart? Be sure to check out SnapLogic’s current job openings.

Laura Selig is Vice President, People at SnapLogic.

 

Less frosting, more cake: Data integration transforms customer experience

By Nada daVeiga

I’ll start with the frosting. As far as I can tell, it’s been the Year of the Customer for several years now. During this time, every company has gotten the “customer experience” (CX) religion – improve it or die. Thousands of software applications have emerged during what’s now called the Age of the Customer, focused on improving CX by providing the right individual with the right interaction or information, at the right time.

The Age of the Customer has spawned an entirely new software category, marketing technology (martech), chronicled tirelessly by industry analyst Scott Brinker, who goes by @chiefmartec on Twitter. His oft-shared, visual history of the martech product landscape looks like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the 2017 marketing technology landscape, Brinker notes:

  • There are now 5,381 solutions on the graphic, 39 percent more than last year
  • There are now 4,891 unique companies on the graphic, up 40 percent from last year
  • Only 4.7% of the solutions from 2016 were removed (and another 3.5 percent changed in some fundamental way – their name, their focus, or their ownership)[1]

Where’s the cake?

My point is that there is a lot of frosting here – thousands of applications designed to address the sexiest elements of customer experience. But what’s missing is cake. Data is the cake onto which martech frosting should be added. Integrated enterprise data is the foundation for effective CX strategies to be built on because otherwise, you’re just playing an expensive guessing game.

That’s where enterprise integration comes in. With the expansion of digital channels and new customer initiatives, the variety and volume of customer signals are more diverse than ever. Beyond classical CRM systems around sales and service, understanding the customer lifecycle means bringing together data from, in addition to martech apps, sources including social media, websites, field service, quote management apps, and Internet-enabled things like mobile devices to sensors.

Bake the cake – integrate your enterprise data

More than ever, your company needs to focus on the cake of data, and the enterprise integration required to create it. The good news is, today’s enterprise integration cloud solutions make it easier than ever to build a rich data foundation for comprehensive, effective initiatives in the Age of the Customer.

To learn how to design your integration strategy to enable success with your customer initiatives, download the white paper, “Integration in the age of the customer: The five keys to connecting and elevating customer experience.” In it, you’ll find actionable insights on how to optimize your organization’s data integration strategy for the digital customer, including:

  • Why you need to ensure your organization’s integration strategy is customer-focused
  • How to plan around the entire customer lifecycle
  • Which five integration strategies help speed customer analytics and experience initiatives
  • How to put the odds of customer success in your favor

Download the white paper today!

Nada daVeiga is VP Worldwide Pre-Sales, Customer Success, and Professional Services at SnapLogic. Follow her on Twitter @nrdaveiga.

[1]Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2017): Martech 5000,” Scott Brinker, May 10, 2017.

 

 

 

Data integration: The key to operationalizing innovation

md_craig-BW-1443725112By Craig Stewart

It’s not just a tongue twister. Operationalizing innovation has proven to be one of the most elusive management objectives of the new millennium. Consider this sound bite from an executive who’d just participated in an innovation conference in 2005:

The real discussion at the meeting was about … how to operationalize innovation. All roads of discussion led back to that place. How do you make your company into a systemic innovator? There is no common denominator out there, no shared understanding on how to do that.[1]

The good news is that, in the 12 years since, cloud computing has exploded, and a common denominator clearly emerged: data. Specifically, putting the power of data – big data, enterprise data, and data from external sources – and analytics into users’ hands. More good news: An entirely new class of big data analysis tools[2] has emerged that allows business users to become “citizen data analysts.”

The bad news: There hasn’t been a fast, easy way to perform the necessary integrations between data sources, in the cloud – an essential first step that is the foundation of citizen data analytics, today’s hottest source of innovation.

Until now.

The SnapLogic Enterprise Integration Cloud is a mature, full-featured Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) built in the cloud, for the cloud. Through its visual, automated approach to integration, the SnapLogic Enterprise Integration Cloud uniquely empowers both business and IT users, accelerating analytics initiatives on Amazon Redshift and other cloud data warehouses.

Unlike on-premises ETL or immature cloud tools, SnapLogic combines ease of use, streaming scalability, on-premises and cloud integration, and managed connectors called Snaps. Together, these capabilities present a 10x improvement over legacy ETL solutions like Informatica or other “cloud-washed” solutions originally designed for on-premises use, accelerating integrations from months to days.

By enabling “citizen integrators” to more quickly build, deploy and efficiently manage multiple high-volume, data-intensive integration projects, SnapLogic uniquely delivers:

  • Ease of use for business and IT users through a graphical approach to integration
  • A solution built for scale, offering bulk data movement and streaming data integration
  • Ideal capabilities for hybrid environments, with over 400 Snaps to handle relational, document, unstructured, and legacy data sources
  • Cloud data warehouse-readiness with native support for Amazon Redshift and other popular cloud data warehouses
  • Built-in data governance* by synchronizing data in Redshift at any time interval desired, from real-time to overnight batch.

* Why data governance matters

Analytics performed on top of incorrect data yield incorrect results – a detriment, certainly, in the quest to operationalize innovation. Data governance is a significant topic, and a major concern of IT organizations charged with maintaining the consistency of data routinely accessed by citizen data scientist and citizen integrator populations. Gartner estimates that only 10% of self-service BI initiatives are governed[3] to prevent inconsistencies that adversely affect the business.

Data discovery initiatives using desktop analytics tools risk creating inconsistent silos of data. Cloud data warehouses afford increased governance and data centralization. SnapLogic helps to ensure strong data governance by replicating source tables into Redshift clusters, where the data can be periodically synchronized at any time interval desired, from real-time to overnight batch. In this way, data drift is eliminated, allowing all users who access data, whether in Redshift or other enterprise systems, to be confident in its accuracy.

To find out more about how SnapLogic empowers citizen data scientists, and how a global pharmaceutical company is using SnapLogic to operationalize innovation, get the white paper, “Igniting discovery: How built-for-the-cloud data integration kicks Amazon Redshift into high gear.

Craig Stewart is Vice President, Product Management at SnapLogic.

[1] “Operationalizing Innovation–THE hot topic,” Bruce Nussbaum, Bloomberg, September 28, 2005. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2005-09-28/operationalizing-innovation-the-hot-topic

[2] “The 18 Best Analytics Tools Every Business Manager Should Know,” Bernard Marr, Forbes, February 4, 2016. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2016/02/04/the-18-best-analytics-tools-every-business-manager-should-know/#825e6115d397

[3] “Predicts 2017: Analytics Strategy and Technology,” Kurt Schlegel, et. al., Gartner, November 30, 2016. ID: G00316349

Data integration and best practices in the age of the digital customer

Nada-headshotBy Nada daVeiga

Organizations are competing more than ever based on how they engage with customers. It’s become a vital part of the enterprise digital transformation agenda. Yet in the rush, integration, a foundational element, is often overlooked in the haste to deploy new digital customer applications and experiences. McKinsey recently observed that “Integrating new processes with legacy systems in a cost-efficient way is a challenge most companies face when they digitize their customer. [1]

Why does it matter, and why is it such a big obstacle anyway?

The problem is that a lack of integration can quickly become transparent to customers. In retail, lack of strong integration between an e-commerce system and the CRM or ERP can result in website ordering, pricing, or shopping cart issues that aren’t visible to customer service. This lack of integration often results in customer frustration or a lost sale. In B2B, poor integration between the CRM and ERP can also lead to incorrectly rekeyed customer or order information, resulting in downstream invoicing issues.

But why is it so hard to pull together more integrated customer processes? Because there are just so many applications within the enterprise that manage a part of the customer process.

For example, a recent study by Ventana Research on customer analytics found that 40 percent of respondents worked with 14 different types of data across at least 6 different systems to derive customer insight. [2]

Five key strategies to connect and elevate your customer experience

With integration being the biggest barrier, let’s look at five strategies key to connecting and elevating the customer experience.

  1. Start with analytics, grow to experience

Why this sequencing? Simply, we have to start somewhere in order to measure key metrics, since only things measured can be improved. Getting a clear 360-degree view of the customer – with metrics around customer satisfaction, engagement, churn, and acquisition – provides the blueprint for targeting the best opportunities to upgrade customer experience.

  1. Put customer experts in control

Who better than the sales or service team to put themselves in the customer’s shoes? Often analytics projects can quickly become an IT-led project. While IT has an incredibly important role to play, in governance and ensuring the efficient use of technology, experts in the lines of business should be enabled to connect the dots themselves.

  1. Customer experience is a team sport – get collaborative

The chances are one of your customer process steps will likely depend on another team’s app. Or the data needed for your analytics project will be within another team’s control. With so much cross-departmental integration, ensure different teams are using the same integration platform to maximize reuse.

  1. Plan to keep pace with customer touchpoint variety

Having to perform hand-coded API integrations or costly custom integrations just to keep pace is a sure way to drain budgets. Ensure your integration platform connects with your current apps, whether you’re running Salesforce, NetSuite, SAP, Oracle, or any other app, as well as the ones you plan to use in the future, without requiring having to build connectivity.

  1. Customer data is your fastest growing asset – prepare to scale

There’s often no faster growing asset in the enterprise than customer data. And not just data, the sheer number of workflows around customer experience are set to skyrocket. Choose an integration platform that’ll keep pace. Because being forced to switch customer integration platforms later can quickly put the brakes on a customer experience initiative.

Set the foundation for customer experience success

To learn how to design your integration strategy to enable success with your customer initiatives, watch our webcast, “Data integration best practices in the age of the digital customer experience,” featuring Michele Goetz, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research Inc, and Ravi Dharnikota, Chief Enterprise Architect, SnapLogic. You’ll take away actionable insights for ensuring your organization’s data integration strategy is optimized for the digital customer. Register today!

Nada daVeiga is VP Worldwide Pre-Sales, Customer Success, and Professional Services at SnapLogic. Follow her on Twitter @nrdaveiga.

 

[1]Digitizing customer journeys and processes: Stories from the front lines,” McKinsey, May 2017.

[2]The Next Generation of Customer Analytics,” Ventana Research, February 2014.

 

 

 

How to get valuable insights on data stored in Azure Data Lake Store

In a previous blog post, I discussed major trends in the data integration space and customers moving from on-prem to cloud. I’d like to focus on one trend which involves moving data from on-premises or cloud data analytics platforms to a Data Lake technology such as Azure Data Lake.

What is a Data Lake?

The Data Lake is a term coined for storing large amounts of data in its raw native form, including structured and unstructured data in one location. This data can come from various sources, and the Data Lake can act as a single source of truth for any organization. From the architecture standpoint, the data is first stored in data swamp/data acquisition, then cleansed/transformed as part of data transformation, and later published to gain business insights.

Data Lake

As seen in the diagram above, enterprises have multiple systems such as ERP, CRM, RDBMS, NoSQL, IoT sensors, etc. The disparate data, stored in different systems makes, is difficult to pull data from. A Data Lake brings all the data under one roof (data acquisition) using one of the following services:

  • Azure Blob
  • Azure Data Lake Store
  • Amazon S3
  • HDFS
  • Others

Data stored in one of these services can then be transformed in the following ways:

  • Aggregate
  • Sort
  • Join
  • Merge
  • Other

The transformed data is then moved to the data publish/data access section (could be the same as data acquisition services) where users can utilize the following tools to query the data:

  • Microsoft’s U-SQL
  • Amazon Athena
  • Hive
  • Presto
  • Others etc.

The bottom line is that a Data Lake can serve as a platform to run analytics in order to provide better customer experience, recommendations, and more.

Azure Data Lake is one such Data Lake from Microsoft and the repository used to store all the data is Azure Data Lake Store. Users can run Analytics Service, HDInsight or use U-SQL – a big data query language on top of this data store to gain better business insights.

ADLSSource: Microsoft

Azure Data Lake Store (ADLS) can store any data in its native format. One of the goals of this data store is to bring data from disparate sources. The Snaplogic Enterprise Integration Cloud with its pre-built connectors called Snaps help by moving data from different systems to the data store in a fast manner.

ADLS provides a complex API, which applications use to store data in ADLS. Snaplogic has abstracted all these complexities via Snaps so users can now easily move data from various systems to ADLS without needing to know anything of the complexities of these APIs.

Use case

A business needs to track and analyze content to better recommend products or services to its customers. Its data – from various sources such as Oracle, files, Twitter, etc. – needs to be stored in a central repository such as ADLS so that business users can run analytics on top to measure customer buying behavior, their interests, and products purchased.

Here’s a sample pipeline that can address this use case using Snaps:

Using the File Writer Snap and choosing the Azure Data Lake account as shown below, one can store the data merged from various systems into Azure Data Lake with ease.

All in all, the Data Lake can be a one-stop shop of storage for any data, giving users more ways to derive insights from multiple data sources. And SnapLogic is ready to make it easier for users to move their data into the Data Lake (in this case, an Azure Data Lake Store) in a quick and easy way.

Pavan Venkatesh is Senior Product Manager at SnapLogic. Follow him on Twitter @pavankv.

Iris – Can you build an integration pipeline for me?

The promise of Artificial Intelligence technology is flourishing. From Amazon shopping recommendations, Facebook image recognition, and personal assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa,  AI is becoming part of our everyday lives, whether we know it or not. These apps use information collected from your past requests to make predictions and deliver results that are tailored to your preferences. 

The importance of AI in today’s world is not lost upon us at SnapLogic. We are always trying to keep up with the latest innovations and technologies, so making our software fast, efficient, and automated for our customers has always been our goal. With the Spring release, SnapLogic launched the SnapLogic Integration Assistant. The SnapLogic Integration Assistant is a recommendation engine that uses Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to predict the next step in building a data pipeline architecture. Iris uses advanced algorithms to collect information from millions of metadata elements and billions of data flows to make predictions and deliver results that are tailored to the customer’s needs.

Currently, customers build pipelines by searching and selecting from over 400 Snaps in the SnapLogic catalog and dragging and dropping them into the canvas. Repeating this step for every single Snap, although easy, can make a pipeline building process somewhat tedious and time-consuming. But with the Integration Assistant, operations like these are simplified to give business users the right next steps in the building process, making pipeline building easy and efficient. Besides efficiency and speed, the “self-driving” software shortens the learning curve for line-of-business users to manage their data flows while freeing technology staff for higher-value software development. See how it works in this video.

In the next few steps,  learn how to enable this feature and start building interactive pipelines yourself.

Right now, we have two ways of building pipelines:

  • Choose a Snap from the SnapLogic catalog
  • Use the Integration Assistant for recommending the right Snaps

How to enable the Integration Assistant feature

By default, the Integration Assistant option is turned off,  allowing you to continue building pipelines by selecting Snaps in the SnapLogic Catalog. However, to utilize the Integration Assistant, just head to the Settings icon and check the Integration Assistant option.

Once the Integration Assistant is enabled, you’ll immediately see the benefits of the self-guided user interface. Drag the first snap onto the canvas and the Integration Assistant instantly kicks in and highlights the next suitable Snap. At the same time, it also opens up another panel that lists suggested Snaps on the right-hand side of the canvas. These AI-driven Snap recommendations are based on the historical metadata from your previous workflows.

Next, you can choose to click the highlighted Snap or pick from the recommended list by dragging the suitable Snap into the canvas. This process continues further until you select a snap with a closed output. At this point, the Integration Assistant will stop suggesting Snaps and the pipeline will be ready for execution.

As you can see, the Integration Assistant improves your pipeline building experience by suggesting Snaps that are the best fit for your organization based on the historical metadata flows.

Interested in learning more? Watch a quick demo on our YouTube channel – SnapLogic Spring 2017: Integration Assistant.”

Namita Prabhu is Senior QA Manager at SnapLogic.