Dave Mariani, CTO at AtScale talks about the ways data analytics can finds its place in business cycles and enhance the overall data science and BI workflows
1. Tell us about your role in AtScale?
I am currently serving as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for AtScale. Prior to that, I served as AtScale’s CEO for its first five years of operations. A few years ago, realizing that AtScale was a bigger opportunity than I had ever imagined, I sought after an industry leader who could take AtScale to the next level so I could focus on the product and delivering excellence to our customers. I had the pleasure to meet Chris Lynch in 2018 and he agreed to join the board and company as CEO.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
As a technology leader at large enterprises like Acxiom and Yahoo!, I struggled with existing tools to make analytics work on big, volatile data. I founded AtScale with a few other ex-Yahoos to build what we couldn’t buy. To this day, we at AtScale can honestly say that we’ve walked in the shoes of our customers.
3. How do you think technology has upgraded the tech revolution on the whole?
It has been all about the data. At Yahoo!, our business was built on data. We served our end users with online content while serving them relevant ads to pay for the infrastructure. We were unique in 2010. Not anymore. Every business distinguishes itself using data whether it’s in finance, retail, CPG or virtually any other industry. It’s the cloud and the cloud data platforms that changed everything. Now, every business can capture all customer data, store, and analyze it in a cost effective way. This is a game changer.
4. What, according to you, is the most important tech innovation in the marketing industry and why?
Again, it’s all about the data and it’s not just about cookies and third party data.
Every business can now collect first party customer data because it’s affordable and the tools make it easy.At the same time, we are seeing marketing technology companies leveraging cloud infrastructure to share customer data with each other. The trend of sharing data using data marketplaces and technology vendors means that building a more complete view of the customer is more scalable and achievable than ever before.
5. What features of your big data analytics solution differentiates it in the market?
AtScale makes data “analytics ready”. How do we do that? Our customers use AtScale to build a business friendly semantic layer on top of their data that makes data accessible to anyone and everyone. We provide the technology to allow everyone to make data-driven decisions, not just the data and analytics experts. By democratizing access to data using this semantic layer, we turn everyone in an organization into a data analyst.
6. With the death of third party data, what are your predictions about the role of data in the future of marketing?
While I think that cookies and their derivatives are dying, I think customer data sharing is thriving, but using a different set of technologies. As an example, Snowflake allows its customers to share data views with each other in their cloud data platform. Many marketing technology vendors are taking advantage of this feature to allow their clients to assemble more complete views of their customers and share data. AtScale uses data virtualization to do something similar. By blending data across a variety of locations and formats, we can allow marketers to construct complete customer views without moving data around or resorting to crude, behavior-based tricks.
7. Can you explain how the partnership between AtScale and DataRobot will help in driving collaboration between Data Science and BI Teams?
Data Science and BI teams have a lot in common. Both teams need to get access to “analytics ready” data. Both teams want to spend more time analyzing data versus preparing and wrangling it. So, AtScale helps both teams become more productive by delivering them prepared, consistent and secure data for their use cases. However, that’s only the start. If you think about the data science workflow, it’s all about building and training models and then sharing the results with others. By integrating DataRobot predictions and features back into AtScale’s semantic layer, we provide a seamless feedback loop that connects the data scientist to the business analyst using data.
8. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start Ups?
My advice to young entrepreneurs is to celebrate customer success, not raising money. Just because you can raise a bunch of capital, doesn’t mean you should.
Focus on delighting the customer and success will come.Be frugal and treat every dollar as if it were your own (it is!) and ask yourself, does spending this money make my customers more successful? By focusing on customers instead of an IPO or strategic exit, you will live through the inevitable ups and downs that come with working in a startup.
9. What work-related hack do you follow to enjoy maximum productivity?
I have a couple of hacks. First of all, I wake up early in the morning and take a 2.5 mile run before starting my day. I find that it’s a good way of getting my juices flowing while allowing me to think about the plan for the day ahead. Second, I try to create “whitespace” in my calendar to allow me time to do some strategic thinking or writing. I do this by clustering meetings together back to back on certain days of the week and then leaving at least one day a week as meeting free as possible so I can get some focused work done.
10. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
We need to think of AI as a technology enhancer, not a standalone technology platform. In the future, AI will work its way into everything we do, often behind the scenes. For our industry, this means that the BI and AI markets will merge and we’ll see tools that make us ordinary humans smarter by surfacing trends and anomalies that we couldn’t see our own own. Just like automation makes our life better by freeing us from mundane, repetitive tasks, AI will allow our minds to work on bigger problems by freeing us from needing to find the needle in the haystack.
11. What kind of changes from the pandemic do you think are here to stay forever?
The pandemic forced us to test the hypothesis that people can work remotely and still be productive. I think the experiment in remote working has been, in large, a success. Going forward, I think that location will be much less important, which will result in a much more distributed workforce. In that regard, just like people can be in different locations, I predict that we’ll do the same with data. Data is being generated everywhere and technologies like virtualization will make it unnecessary to move data to one location for analysis.
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Founder and Chief Technology Officer for AtScale
Dave Mariani is the founder and Chief Technology Officer for AtScale. Founded in 2013, AtScale enables smarter decision-making by accelerating the flow of data-driven insights. The company’s semantic layer platform simplifies, accelerates, and extends business intelligence and data science capabilities for enterprise customers across all industries. With AtScale, customers are empowered to democratize data, implement self-service BI and build a more agile analytics infrastructure for better, more impactful decision making. Prior to AtScale, Dave ran data and analytics for Yahoo! where he pioneered the development of Hadoop for analytics and created the world’s largest multi-dimensional analytics platform.