GE Invests on Data Prepper Tamr
The investment arm of GE, a steady customer of startup Tamr Inc., has made a strategic investment in the data preparation platform vendor and placed a director on its board of directors.
Tamr was spun out from the Massachusetts Institute of Technologies’ Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in 2014. The startup, based in Cambridge, Mass., had previously raised more than $25 million in a Series B funding round in June 2015.
The amount of the GE Ventures equity investment was not disclosed.
GE and other investors and partners have been using Tamr’s machine learning approach to data unification internally—in the case of GE (NYSE: GE), more than two years. The partners began working together in 2014 on an analytics effort designed to identify areas where the industrial giant could get the most bang for its buck.
Of particular interest was rationalizing the many enterprise resource-planning systems taken on by GE as a result of a string of mergers and acquisitions. GE worked with Tamr to unify the data on more than 270 separate ERP systems to get a clearer picture of the company’s direct spending.
Tamr’s machine learning approach coupled with a “human-guided data unification system” ended up processing an estimated 20 million transactions that GE calculates were worth $60 billion. The partners said the two-year analytics effort delivered “savings opportunities” in the hundred of millions of dollars.
GE is also using Tamr’s software across multiple business units for other data unification initiatives including customer record management.
Tamr’s patented machine learning approach is used to prepare and unify data from multiple sources by “normalizing, cleaning, integrating, and de-duplicating” data sources, the startup said. Tamr earned a U.S. Patent for its approach earlier this year.
Along with GE, Tamr’s growing list of large enterprise customers includes pharmaceutical giants Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) and GlaxoSmithKlein (NYSE: GSK), the media company Thomson Reuters (NYSE: TRI) and Toyota (NYSE: TM).
Another key customer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) recently announced an deal to resell Tamr’s data prep technology as part of a its third-party software hardware offerings.
Tamr has sought to differentiate itself from a growing number of data prep specialists who apply rules to combine a limited number of data sources. By contrast, Tamr said its patented approach combines machine-learning techniques with human experts. That, the startup asserts, allows it to scour data for correlations and duplications in hundreds of source files.
Tamr and other data prep specialists that include Paxata and Trifacta are focused on tools that would free data scientists from janitorial work that takes up as much as 70 percent of their time. Market watcher Gartner predicts that the self-service data preparation software market would reach $1 billion by 2019, and that the current adoption rate of 5 percent would grow to 10 percent by 2020.