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June 10, 2022

Meet Matillion CEO Matthew Scullion, a Datanami 2022 Person to Watch

The market for extract, transform, and load (ETL) software is very well-established at this point, but there’s a fresh crop of new faces that are shaking up the market and grabbing share with new approaches and innovative solutions. One of those is Matillion, the Anglo-American software company founded by Matthew Scullion, who is one of our 2022 Datanami People to Watch.

Scullion, who is the CEO and founder of Matillion, was kind enough to spend some time answer some questions with Datanami.

Datanami: Matillion has emerged as one of the leading providers of ETL for the cloud. What do you attribute that success to?

Scullion: There are three things that have made Matillion successful:

First of all, we understand the needs of the customer because we have been that customer. When we were building finished analytical solutions in the cloud for clients, we had to transform data for analytics. We were trying to do it using code or legacy solutions, and the technology just wasn’t built for doing that in the cloud. That’s why we created Matillion ETL. So we understand the problem and always have. We have empathy for those end users in the cloud, both the technologists and the business users who need to become data people, and we want to help them go faster.

The second thing that helps us succeed is our culture and team. To have a world-class data integration solution, you need a world-class team to build it out. Matillioners are a highly skilled bunch, but just as importantly, they live our values–they innovate, they care about customers, they care about each other, and they work with integrity. We have passionate, happy team members who make great partners in our quest to make the world’s data useful.

And the third thing is Manchester. Software was born in Manchester. It’s an area of the world with great engineering talent and a lot of entrepreneurial expertise and initiative. I think it brings a different perspective than you might get in Silicon Valley. Building a tech company outside of Silicon Valley brings a pragmatism and culture that are different. A lot of tech companies are built in the same mold, but we are an alternative. We look at the same challenges and opportunities in a different way. That’s important and it’s helped us differentiate ourselves.

Datanami: People have been struggling with data transformation and ETL for decades. Why haven’t we been able to crack this problem? Or perhaps are we just destined to suffer from this forever?

Scullion: Well, having to do something doesn’t necessarily make it a problem. We’ve always had to make data useful, and to some extent we have done it using the tools and technology available to us on-premises and then in the cloud. But it hasn’t always been fun. That correlates to how difficult or easy it is, whether you’re working with or against the technology. Historically, working with data has been easy or possible until it wasn’t, due to data growth, expense, what have you.

No matter how much data we have, it’s not useful in its unrefined state. Just as we do with iron ore, you need to get it from the ground to the refinery, and there you need the right tools to refine it. In the case of data, the process is human–you have to add business logic to that raw material, and that logic is set into peoples’ heads. ETL is basically software development. You need to turn that business logic into software.

Matillion has changed the way we do that. People love using our tech. It puts the agility to create software into the hands of people who are close to the business problem and know how to solve it. Users are translating business logic into software at the speed of thought, which is how fast you need to do it today to be successful. It’s no longer a pure-play engineering skillset and it’s more fun, relevant, and useful than waiting for disks to spin and for i/o to happen.

Datanami: What new challenges and opportunities do you see emerging in big data in 2022?

Scullion: Everything is being changed by data. This year, and in years to come, it will change the way we work, live, and play: really quickly. Companies will all become data companies. Employees will all become data people. Data is the new commodity and how much of it you can make useful will determine whether you succeed or, frankly, whether you continue to be around.

We have lots of data and there’s an urgency to use it to make the world a better place. But right now, gaining insight from data to solve the big problems isn’t an analytics problem–it’s a supply chain problem. It’s how quickly you can mine that raw ore and refine it, and get it to the people who need it to build something. In 2022, the data supply chain is restrictive and inefficient. There are significant bottlenecks caused by hand-coding, data silos, lack of communication, product integration, and more.

That’s what we’re focused on solving at Matillion. If we can unblock that data supply chain with low-code/no-code technology and get more people in the data pass rush–data engineers, data scientists, business analysts and users–that opens up the opportunity to do great things.

Datanami: Outside of the professional sphere, what can you share about yourself that your colleagues might be surprised to learn – any unique hobbies or stories?

Scullion: This is a hard question for me, not because I don’t have hobbies or stories, but because I’m an open book. If you know me, there’s not much you don’t know about me. I’m very honest and transparent.

I like the outdoors, walking and getting out in the hills, being on the water or anything to do with the sea, and horseback riding. It’s great that our U.S. headquarters are in Colorado, because there are such great opportunities to get outside. But my main passions are my wife and my two daughters, and Matillion; both of which take up a lot of my time!

Another passion of mine is spending time helping other consequential companies to grow in the UK. I mentor other CEOs, I am on the newly formed Prime Minister’s Business Council, and I was Ernst and Young’s 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year in the UK, both platforms I hope to use to support technology business growth on home soil. I love Manchester; it was once the center of industry for the world, and I want to see us come back.

You can read the rest of our Datanami People to Watch for 2022 interviews here.