With data growing at a staggering rate, managing and structuring it is vital to your survival. In our Event Spotlight series, we cover the biggest industry events helping builders learn about the latest tech, trends, and people innovating in the space. In this piece, we detail the Israeli debut of Periscope Data.

Driving startup growth with the power of data

Growth. It’s the aspiration of every startup. The challenge is to do it right, and a crucial way to achieve it is with decisions based on data and analysis that drive measurable business results.

This was the key learning from the Sisense event heralding the launch of Periscope Data in Tel Aviv, Israel — the beating heart of the startup nation. We hosted over 150 people from more than 100 companies, who gathered to learn why data can supercharge their companies and how harnessing the huge power of data can take business from startup to unicorn.

The Rise of the Data Team

An exciting slate of presentations took them on a journey from why to how they should use data analytics to optimize their operations successfully and maximize their business opportunities.

There are plenty of opportunities for startups, but huge challenges too, with more than 50 percent of US startups failing to last longer than four years. That’s why it has become increasingly vital for companies to leverage fresh data and deploy accurate analytics, so they can make smarter decisions that will enable them to prosper. Data teams have become the key to many organizations’ success, and the transformation of data into insights is now a critical business process, as Sisense Israel Sales Country Manager, Davidi Boyarksi, explained in his introduction.

Periscope Data provides the ideal platform for data teams to establish an effective analytics environment in the type of emerging companies that are so prevalent in Israel. It’s why Sisense, having merged with Periscope Data in May 2019, chose to host this event in Tel Aviv.

What VCs want from startups

The day’s first guest speaker, Itzik Parnafes, General Manager of global technology-focused VC investor Battery Ventures, set the scene, with an enlightening overview of the KPIs that VCs focus on during startup growth. He outlined how critical measurable results are to help VCs make major investment decisions — metrics such as revenue, net vs gross earnings, sales, costs and projections, and more. The importance of giving this information to VCs reinforces how significant a role data plays in measuring and predicting growth and enabling companies and investors to gain insights that drive growth.

Itzik Parnafes
Itzik Parnafes, Battery Ventures

The rise of the data team: from startup to unicorn

With Itzik’s wisdom fresh in everyone’s minds, Scott Castle, Sisense General Manager, Data Business, shared his view on the role of modern data teams. Scott whisked us through the history of business intelligence from its first definition in 1958 to the current rise of Big Data.

He talked through how the mind-blowing escalation of data and the drastic reduction in the cost of its storage has led to more complex, sophisticated uses of data and a shift in the way it’s managed and consumed. And he explained that the leap to visual-based data discovery put analytics in the hands of data experts working in different lines of business, rather than in IT, where bottlenecks could previously occur, and reporting could take much longer.

Scott outlined how this change has driven a shift in the role of data teams, who now occupy strategic business positions. These teams now play a far more significant part in shaping company strategy than ever before, because the opportunity of Big Data necessitated skilled data professionals not just to crunch the numbers but to find value in the information. Scott said:

Periscope Data’s mission is to turn data teams into super heroes because we see our role as unlocking the potential that data teams already have.

Scott Castle, Sisense General Manager, Data Business
Scott Castle

And he emphasized why they should be treated differently. They’re no longer simply a repository for information. Instead they operate as an engine for transforming their organizations, using predictive technologies to answer business questions that shape decisions, roadmaps, and future strategies. He concluded that data teams can influence the transformation of startups into unicorns. A platform like Periscope Data is what makes this happen, by elevating data’s prominence and the role of data teams beyond merely a source of visual-based data discovery.

Responding to Scott’s presentation, attendees from AppsFlyer, Ziv Ben Naim, Client Services Analytics & Strategy Lead, and Maayan Dukas Kfir, Data Analyst had this to say:

It has been good to get aligned with what’s out there from a data team’s point of view. We really liked Scott’s story of the development of BI and Big Data and the vision he presented. It was interesting to get such a data orientated perspective, today, and as data specialists, it really resonated with us.

Ziv Ben Naim, Client Services Analytics & Strategy Lead, AppsFlyer
Maayan Dukas Kfir, Data Analyst, AppsFlyer

The impact on customers

The impact of the changes in the data ecosystem has already taken effect in numerous startup customers in Silicon Valley, and Kyle Dempsey, Senior Sales Engineer at Sisense shared some great examples of how Periscope Data has helped them grow from infancy to unicorn. Quoting Keystone Research, he opened with the finding that:

Companies who use data effectively have 18% higher gross margins and 4% higher operating margins

Keystone Research

And he demonstrated how the Periscope Data platform overcomes the challenges of huge data volumes that can’t be easily modeled by traditional BI. Citing Tinder as a major example, Kyle explained how it constantly uses data to enhance users’ interactions and calibrate the user experience. No surprise then that Tinder beat Netflix to become the highest-earning non-game app on both Google Play Store and the Apple Store.

Similarly, Kyle outlined how Flexport, the world’s first international freight forwarder and customs brokerage built around an online dashboard, uses Periscope Data to analyze billions of records, and get answers in seconds. Periscope Data enables Flexport to investigate critical business issues, identify opportunities and recommend ways to streamline business and operational processes by providing the company with the fastest time to insight, and powerful capabilities to answer any business questions, whether they derive from BI reporting, advanced analytics, or data prep for machine learning. Kyle said:

We empower data analysts to create more business value than any other BI platform.

Kyle Dempsey, Senior Sales Engineer, Sisense

These customer examples demonstrated how impactful smart data management and analytics can be for every part of customer organizations, from data teams to marketing, sales, and beyond. Another of Kyle’s case studies reinforced this point: Oscar Health, a disruptor in the private health insurance sector. The company has integrated data analysis throughout its organization to power decision making. From a startup in 2012, it is now valued at $3.2 billion. A true unicorn.

Optimizing data pipelines: How Kongregate uses Periscope Data

All these presentations provided rich food for thought, but there was more to follow. We were delighted to welcome Max Murphy, Software Engineering Manager for one of our customers, Kongregate, a leading mobile and PC game developer, publisher, and web gaming portal.

Kongregate has been using Periscope Data since 2013. Max demonstrated how Periscope Data enabled Kongregate to replace its ETL (extract, transform, load) system and apply software development best practices from end to end. The key element was standardizing its data pipeline from event source to charts, enabling Kongregate to gather, manage, and analyze a larger volume of data from across all data sources.

Additionally, Max discussed how embedded analytics offers huge benefits both to the company and third-party developers with whom they partner. He explained:

The big piece is embedding analytics in the Kongregate platform so game developers can see the performance of their games

Max Murphy, Software Engineering Manager, Kongregate.

The easy set-up and access to embedded analytics enable them to measure KPIs, get game statistics, monetization and retention statistics that help them to optimize players’ experience, hone best practices and benchmarks, and maximize stickiness and profitability.

Diving deeper into the datasphere: Data lakes — best practices

The day’s journey from the “why” through the “how” of data analytics then continued. We dived deeper into the mechanics of building the most efficient data pipelines to access and deliver data for analysis, even with the challenges of Big Data.

Omid Vahdaty, CTO of Jutomate Ltd., shone the spotlight on best practices with data lakes. As a specialist in Big Data solution architecture and systems engineering, Omid shared lessons from his extensive experience designing systems in startup environments. He addressed the challenges presented by today’s huge volume of data that’s enabled by cloud storage services. This data is often complex and difficult to model, particularly when it can be stored in both transformed and raw, structured, and unstructured formats. Omid discussed how to build data pipelines using data lake technologies, including the architecture and the guidelines needed to build your own data lake, using leading cloud vendors.

Omid Vahdaty, Jutomate

And extending this deep dive, Kyle stepped up once more to walk everyone through the ways Periscope Data handles data. His comprehensive demo showed how the SQL, R, and Python languages can be utilized and can work together to enable data teams to optimize performance.

This particular capability caught the attention of Dror Katz, Lead Data Analyst at Toluna (market research company), who was at the launch. He said:

We wanted to get familiar with new technology. We were familiar with Sisense before this event. It has been great to learn what capabilities Periscope Data has in comparison to other BI platforms. What stood out was the integration with Python and the added value that Periscope Data can offer.

Dror Katz, Lead Data Analyst at Toluna

And his views were reiterated by the AppsFlyer team attending the event, who learned about Periscope Data for the first time, and as a result, felt that:  

. . . now we know more about what tools we’re missing, specifically regarding the integration of Python, SQL and R, which we don’t have with our current tools.

Ziv Ben Naim, Client Services Analytics & Strategy Lead, AppsFlyer and Maayan Dukas Kfir, Data Analyst, AppsFlyer

How Namogoo built a data-driven culture with Periscope Data

Of course, seeing how Periscope Data works in practice adds more color to the theory. Our final guest, Ohad Greenshpan, Co-Founder and CTO of Namogoo, presented a fascinating case study. Namogoo is a SaaS company that helps online businesses prevent customer journey hijacking. Its technology detects and blocks unauthorized ads injected into consumer browsers that redirect website visitors to competitor products and promotions.

He explained how Namogoo has used Periscope Data to grow its business and develop a data-driven culture at the company. Using the platform has empowered its teams to identify opportunities and take ownership of developing strategies informed by insights. Ohad explained that it has helped them discover things that they never even thought about, which has beneficially influenced decisions. He articulated the biggest benefit of all in one of his closing remarks:

The power of Periscope is in its simplicity.

Ohad Greenshpan, Co-Founder and CTO of Namogoo

Making an impression

Our launch of Periscope Data in Israel clearly left a positive impression.  Dan Postar, CEO, Business Wise Solutions (Big Data and analytics consultancy), who already knows Sisense, said:

I think Periscope Data is a great addition to the Sisense capabilities. It was great to get an introduction to Periscope’s capabilities and an overview of what we can get from the Sisense suite.

Dan Postar, CEO, Business Wise Solutions

The event demonstrated that advanced BI and analytics are invaluable for startups facing intensified challenges from an environment that’s increasingly competitive and rich with data. Managing data so that organizations can more confidently make smart decisions is fast becoming a prerequisite for growth. 

Periscope Data is perfectly designed to help dynamic startups and fast-growing companies achieve this. It adds to the armory of innovations that gives Sisense the capability to support organizations at every stage of growth, from startups to enterprise to OEM.

We’re excited to have launched Periscope Data into this fertile market, and we look forward to the opportunity to help accelerate the growth of many fantastic businesses.

The Rise of the Data Team

Adam Murray’s early career PR started in London, then moved on to New York and Tel Aviv. He’s spent the last ten years working with tech companies like Amdocs, Gilat Satellite Systems, and Allot Communications. He holds a Ph.D. in English Literature and when he’s not spending time with his wife and son, he’s preoccupied with his beloved football team, Tottenham Hotspur.

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