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A Refreshing Change: 6 things your BI should not do

Astrato Head of Product Marketing, Al HerronOur Head of Product Marketing, Al Herron, shares his thoughts on BI, analytics and change. 

Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster – that is a quote by Elon Musk. Over the last few months Elon’s words have made an impact.

Why? Read on and see…

I have the dream job. Working in the heart of bustling West London for a tech start-up, Astrato, I get to work with some of the best minds in the business. Every day is different and we get to innovate, fast. Elon would be right at home. We reach for the stars every day.

A key part of my role as Head of Product Marketing is communicating the value of that innovation out to the modern data teams – and the businesses that rely on them – that as data moves out to the cloud (change!) they need to embrace change in the way they share and act on insight.

Problem is that there are many BI and analytics vendor choices.

They all claim to cover every analytics task and use case you could possibly imagine. Real change can get drowned out. Matt Turck has created a visual of technology vendors in the data space, what he calls the MAD landscape (you can get a closer look here).

Matt Turck MAD landscape

Image: Matt Turck

Now there are some real innovators highlighted in the visual, but equally some vendors have not changed – and I’m calling out legacy BI & analytics vendors. They adapt, yes, but they are stuck in past ways of thinking – so if we go by Elon’s quote, then what a disaster.

Change without change

At this point I believe an analogy is required.

If you purchase a hybrid car, but only ever fill it with petrol, you are not really embracing change. Elon would not be pleased.

Conversely, as you move your data to the cloud but continue with yesterday’s way of doing BI you lose the benefits (you can find a comparison table here).

Six things Astrato is not 🙅‍♂️

Most tech vendors on the MAD Landscape tell me what they can do.

Spending time at our London HQ with Martin our CEO & founder last week, we thought of most use to you and especially if you are looking to embrace change, is for us to share the six things that Astrato doesn’t do. And why not.

1. We don’t do AI/Machine Learning/NLP

That’s best reserved for either the data source itself or to third-party tools that generate data in the data storage. We present that data though, and will allow you to control model parameters via our dashboards.

2. We don’t automatically generate insights for you

While it may be appealing to have charts and dashboards generated for you automatically (think Spot IQ), we don’t believe a machine can replace the human when it comes to creating analytics and data stories.

Instead, we’re focusing on empowering the analyst and creator with a flexible no-code/low-code solution that requires little skills to get to a result, with suggestions.

3. We don’t store any customer data in Astrato, ever

We’re a SQL-based lightweight presentation layer that shows you what’s in your data storage (Snowflake) and presents the data via live query.

Data is best kept where it lives – in the data storage, close to the compute and most secured. We leverage that power, but with Astrato focus on presenting that data in the most compelling way to your business, to democratize access to your data.

Astrato built for Snowflake

4. We’re not doing any (EL) T data transformation

In the modern analytics environment we believe transformations should be done directly in the data warehouse, not in the periphery in your analytics solution.

But Astrato offers powerful last-mile analysis capabilities, such as generating a custom query, aliasing, formatting, defining joins, mappings – all necessary for an analyst to be able to wrangle the data for presentation purposes.

5. We are not suggesting changes in the way you consume your data

No search-based analytics, self-service, or other new, unproven ways of consuming data.

We’re taking established dashboarding and analytics experiences, your business users are already familiar with and aim to elevate analytics with additional needed capabilities such as commenting, writing, editing, updating data if required.

As such, we’re fully committed to delivering powerful classic capabilities, such as scheduled burst PDF/XLS reporting, Excel-In/Excel-Out, Bookmarks, and much more!

6. We don’t support on-premise deployments or data storage

While data centers and on-premise will remain relevant for many years to come, we have made a conscious decision to only support data stored in the cloud. To reach for the stars and embrace a cloud-first approach.

Nothing wrong with one or the other – just our choice to be cloud-native.

If you enjoyed this article, Alex Thor recently wrote a blog about change, human-readable SQL and how history repeats itself. 👍

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