Small Data Moves into the Spotlight – 10 Vendors Worth Watching

In the 4 months since I started to research my last piece on small data for, I’ve had a LOT of conversations about why it’s time to bring the power of big data to the masses, who is doing something about it, and where to focus first. I’ve taken a lot of notes, and I’ve also had the good fortune to run my emerging ‘small data manifesto’ by some real smart folks including Nobby Akiha, Bill Blundon, Jeff Boehm, Dorie Clark, Mike Gualtieri, Esteban Kolsky, Mitch Lieberman, Richard Pasewark, and my colleague Scott Liewehr (I’m sure I’m leaving out some others).

What have I learned? First off, the small data concept is resonating with a lot of the folks I’ve met. And looking at the volume of new posts and articles since the start of the year – in places like Forbes, Inc, Xconomy, and a number of marketing blogs – there seems to be a groundswell building that points to the value of thinking small.

Second, I’ve refined my ‘watch list’ of vendors that are powering this movement and ‘get’ the value of a creating/enabling simple, smart, responsive, socially aware tools and solutions. I’ve intentionally tried to focus on specialty tool providers vs the IBMs and SAPs. And I know that I’ve just scratched the surface – these are 10 vendors you’ll want to know, but not the only vendors in the space! So here’s my list, in alphabetical order, with a few comments on why they fit the bill.

10 Vendors Worth Watching

Actuate – One of the dashboard and reporting pioneers and founder of the Eclipse BIRT open source project, Actuate’s track record promoting ‘BI for the masses’ is well established (disclaimer: I actually helped with some of this back in the day). Actuate’s recent purchase of Quiterian gives the company a leg up over some of its peers when it comes to combining big data analytics and small data delivery.

Attivio – On the heals of a $34M investment, Attivio is poised for big things with its next-gen database that pulls together data from multiple sources and offers to bridge the worlds of big and small data. I love the focus on correlation and breaking down silos, and making it easy to see both the big and small picture.

GoodData – Driven by a $25M series C found in mid-2012, GoodData has become one of the leaders in bringing big data to life for all types of businesses. How? There’s a lot of small data thinking at work, as a quick tour of the company’s blog illustrates. One of the poster-children for why small data will be a big business.

Google – Starting with search, I’d argue that Google was the original small data company. Simple? Check. Smart? Oh yeah. Mobile? Yup. Social. Ah…getting there! With it’s purchase of Wildfire and improvements in Google+ and YouTube, plus resources second to none, Google could be to small (and big) data what Microsoft was to PCs. Seriously.

NetBase – I love how NetBase (former client) has created its Brand Passion Index to make its high-end analytics (using NLP and text analytics and other cool stuff) approachable and fun. Plus another $9M in funding this past January and a key partnership with SAP is bringing its tools to the wider enterprise market. Great strategy.

Nimble – one of the pure-play social CRM vendors founded by GoldMine CRM founder Jon Ferrara, Nimble is all about simple, smart apps and tools that users will want to use. It’s clear these guys understand that if you drive adoption by focusing on the end-user experience, ROI will follow (Saleforce gets this too!).

QlikTech – In terms of powering simple, mobile, contextual apps QlikTech is very much aligned with the small data vision, and one of the more complete offerings in the space. Also announced partnership with Attivio in January.

Tableau – Driven by the goals of powering fast analytics for ‘everyone’ and storytelling on the Web, Tableau’s positioning is lock-step with the vision and opportunity of using small data to bring big data to the masses. I also really dig the company’s messaging and overall creative. Nicely done.

Twitter – By nature of enforcing a small view of messaging and communication, Twitter should be in the small data hall of fame. But it’s really the company’s recent purchase of Bluefin Labs that moves these guys to the head of the class. Brilliant move.

Visible Technologies – Coming at small data from a social analytics perspective, Visible has a super-intuitive dashboard product, and a great handle on making data highly consumable. It’s clear the management team gets the small data potential, and for good measure the company was just named one of 9 Twitter Certified Products partners.

So who would you add to my watch list?

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