Our Next Phase of Growth: Enterprise Data Catalogs

Satyen Sangani
Satyen Sangani Chief Executive Officer

Today, we’re announcing that Alation has closed a $50 million Series C funding led by Sapphire Ventures, with participation from new investor Salesforce Ventures and our existing investors Costanoa Ventures, DCVC (Data Collective), Harmony Partners and Icon Ventures. Following a very successful year of growth in Alation’s business, this announcement marks a milestone for Alation and the enterprise data catalog market.

What started six years ago as one startup trying to improve the way people work with data has become a full-blown market category – Machine Learning Data Catalogs. And, the data catalog market has had a year of incredible growth. Large enterprises have embraced data catalogs. At Alation, we’ve seen triple digit revenue growth and added new customers like Daimler, Fox Networks, and Hilton Hotels to the growing list of brands in production with the Alation Data Catalog.

When we started Alation six years ago, we saw a data landscape in desperate need of an access point. Everyone was talking about how big data would transform industries, but at the exact same time, people could barely find the data they needed to do basic analysis. In fact, one of the early names for the Alation Data Catalog was an “accessibility platform.”

After coining the term “data catalog,” we were faced with the hard work of explaining exactly what a data catalog is, and why it is critical to achieving business outcomes from self-service analytics. Even as we were working hand-in-hand with customers like eBay, Invoice2Go, and Salesforce, to the wider world, “data catalog” was little more than a buzzword.

This past year, all of that changed. According to Gartner, Data Catalogs became the new “black” in Data Management. No less than 25-different vendors announced data catalog offerings (or renamed offerings to include a data catalog) over the past 24 months.

While the market has been filled with noise, we’ve been focusing on customer impact, guiding customers from initial adoption to enterprise expansion and business impact. Alation customers like eBay, Munich Re, and Pfizer have grown from hundreds of Alation users to thousands. In fact, we have seen an impressive 47-percent net expansion rate in our business, a figure that puts Alation in a rare class of SaaS companies. Expansion in our business model is driven by the number of users of the data catalog, which means that our average customer is virally successful relative to their initial investment. Implementations expand from usage by analysts to data scientists, data stewards, data engineers, knowledge workers, and decision-makers — all of them using Alation to establish trust in data.

Not only are customers seeing expanded use of data catalogs across the enterprise, but they are starting to see data catalogs have a significant impact on business outcomes. Pfizer’s data catalog is at the heart of the company’s Virtual Analytics Workbench, which has been instrumental in identifying rare forms of heart failure. MunichRe’s data catalog sped the introduction of new, innovative data products to mitigate the risk of high impact crises caused by global warming. Albertsons drives customer insights at a 67 percent faster rate, and has seen personalized retail offers result in a 300 percent increase in store redemptions. The Alation Data Catalog is taking years of data lake and self-service analytics investments and driving them from investments to insights.

VP Analyst and Gartner Fellow for Data and Analytics, Rita Sallam, predicted that, “By 2020, organizations that offer users access to a curated catalog of internal and external data will realize twice the business value from analytics investments than those that do not.” 451 Research’s Matt Aslett has gone so far as to ask whether the data catalog could be “the most important breakthrough in analytics to have emerged in the last decade.”

When markets have this type of momentum built on adoption and business value, awareness comes quickly. We saw this first-hand this fall on our 2018 MLDC World Tour that started at O’Reilly’s Strata New York conference. Analytics leaders now want to know how a data catalog can help them solve a specific problem, whether helping analysts with data discovery, assisting with cloud migration, supporting data governance initiatives, setting a foundation for infonomics – managing their data as an asset, or helping executives find data.

Maintaining our current leadership in the data catalog market is not enough. New, growth markets demand innovation. We want to innovate beyond the boundaries of where data catalogs are creating value today. There are a wealth of initiatives that we are excited to bring to fruition, initiatives that build on Behavior I/O and our machine learning innovations like SmartSuggest. This round of funding allows us to make those initiatives a reality. And so, we are doubling our engineering resources, expanding our teams in the US and India, and delivering an increasingly comprehensive data catalog designed for modern data architectures.

Alation is helping more people than ever make confident data driven decisions. And so as we usher in our next phase, I want to thank our community, our customers, our investors, our partners, and the entire Alation team. We wouldn’t be here without the extraordinary efforts of all of you.

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