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How Business Intelligence firms are copying Google

Earlier this month, Bangalore-based DataRPM Corp. announced it has raised $5.1 million in early stage funding from investors InterWest Partners Llc and CIT GAP Funds. The Business Intelligence (BI) company said it will use some of the funds to expand its research operations in Bangalore, India.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at Google's office during an appearance before the Jack Kemp Foundation March 10, 2014 in Washington, DC.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at Google's office during an appearance before the Jack Kemp Foundation March 10, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Search-based Analytics

DataRPM uses a natural language platform -- much like search engines -- in its analytics dashboard. Thus, a user would type a question -- such as sales revenue for a particular location -- to source and analyze big data. The process is similar to how people interact with Google. If the technology succeeds, performing BI tasks would be made a lot easier, and thus, be made more accessible to a lot more users.

It appears Google is encouraging copycat business models. BI startups are emulating the technology giant by incorporating language queries into their software. Several new ventures are looking to simplify the analytics function, similar to what BI software maker Tableau is doing.

Upshot Data, which won the hackathon at Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce event in November 2013, is also working on BI technology based on natural language queries. Other companies with innovative technologies in big data analytics include Looker, which is funded by Redpoint Ventures and First Round Capital.

"By lowering the cost of ownership and emphasizing usability, DataRPM is making business intelligence a no-brainer," Khaled Nasr, partner at Bay Area-based venture capital fund InterWest, said in a statement on Wednesday. "Their combination of affordability and ease-of-use creates the opportunity for companies of all sizes to get meaningful insights from their data."

Innovation in Business Intelligence

The company was founded in January 2012 by data scientists Shyamantak Gautam, Ruban Phukan and Sundeep Sanghavi. DataRPM's innovation signals a major shift in how analytics may evolve as technologies and platforms change over time. The company provides plug-and-play analytics software that offers users simpler queries using natural language, automatic data modeling from disparate sources, and collaboration features.

"The biggest thing that we do for businesses is to make a big data business solution that is usable by anyone in any organization. Users can just use the Q&A format to retrieve data," said Phukan, chief product officer at DataRPM.

According to DataRPM executives, the market size of the big data analytics sector is nearly $36 billion. According to a 2013 study by Gartner, the market for business intelligence (BI) is one of the fastest growing software markets. The industry is growing at nearly 7 percent annually, and is expected to reach over $17 billion by 2016.

Language-based Queries

The company raised $800,000 in seed funding from angel investors in November 2013, and $250,000 in April 2013. DataRPM is likely positioning itself to be an acquisition target as investors look to harvest their investment without deploying too much capital to develop the technology.

Potential acquirers such as Google (think Google Analytics), QlikView, IBM, SAS, Tableau, Microsoft, and other providers could provide huge returns for current DataRPM shareholders. It's noteworthy that Google Ventures is backing startups in the lucrative analytics space.

ClearStory Data, an innovative BI startup that offers visuals from disparate sources of data, is funded by Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, and Andreessen Horowitz. However, social media giants -- such as Facebook -- may also be interested in using search-based technology for its platforms.

"With this round of funding, we would like to increase the size of our R&D team by two fold in Bangalore," said Gautam, chief technology officer at DataRPM.

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