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August 23, 2016

Another Self-Service Database Tool Emerges


The democratization of big data continues apace with a new self-service analytics tool that allows non-data scientists to query databases and get answers without formal training in, for example, SQL.

The startup VQL Technologies Inc. said its platform supports relational data from most SQL and relational databases such as PostgreSQ, MySQL and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) Redshift.

Jason Strauss, the startup’s self-described “data plumber” is a former software engineer at Palantir Technologies and also interned at Facebook (NASDAQ: FB). In interviews, Strauss has described VQL as Excel on steroids with the ability to handle real-time data. The tool also can upload data from spreadsheets or a CSV.

It then separates data into visualizations and columns so non-technical users can make sense of their data. VQL also creates “histograms” designed to help find patterns or “outliers” buried in large datasets.

VQL illustrates the growing trend toward automating data analysis and expanding use of analytics across enterprises to promote self-service business intelligence. For example, Gartner Inc. (NYSE: IT) forecast earlier this year that the global business intelligence and analytics market would reach $16.9 billion this year, up 5.2 percent over 2015. It previously projected the “advanced analytics” market would grow at a 14-percent clip this year to $1.5 billion as more data is shared on secure platforms.

The booming business intelligence and analytics markets are approaching a “tipping point,” according to the market watcher, as enterprises shift from IT- and data scientist-led analytics to “business-led, self-service analytics.”

A cadre of emerging startups such as VQL are attempting to catch the self-service analytics wave by making it easier to access databases, enter queries and get quick answers. “Over the last few years, software and data have gotten into every aspect of a business,” Strauss said. “Everyone from recruiting and HR teams to finance departments have their own set of data questions, but don’t know how to have them answered without involving a technical person,” Strauss, an MIT alumnus told the local technology web site BostInno. It’s a huge fragmented space.”

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