In this blog post, Knowi’s very own Head of Solutions Engineering Shaun Leach, recounts his career journey towards Knowi, describes the challenges in the BI space, and why he’s excited about the role Knowi will play in its future.
So what do you look for when you’re considering your next job?
A lot of people are looking for a way to progress what they’ve already been doing and to bank on the skills they already have.
For me, it’s a little different. When I’m looking, it’s for an opportunity that’s exciting, that will actually make a difference and something that’s a paradigm shift from what people have already seen. It’s got to be something that I feel excited about and that is going to surprise people and really open people’s eyes to what’s possible in the world as you move forward!
So what did I look for and why Knowi?
For me, the biggest problem that needs to be addressed is getting data into the hands of business people. We do it at home all the while! We type our questions into a search bar and we get our answers immediately. This is what the world is like today! With all this power at our fingertips, we then come to work and we step back in time! If you want to know how many of a particular product has been sold in a specific region last week, how do you get your answer? You don’t have access to the data to be able to answer that question yourself so you have to pass it on to the BI team or the IT team, and then after being prioritised, it could be waiting 6,12 or even 18 months to get an answer to a question!
So, why is it a problem in the first place?
The normal process for creating insights on your data requires that you first take the data from the source system and transform the schema into something that is more digestible to the BI tools that are currently on the market. Once this has been done, the volumes are generally too large still for the BI tools, and the data then has to be aggregated and stored in another data store to be able to produce reports. At this, producing a report generally requires a very technical tool to create the visualisations that are eventually presented to the Business team, who asked the question in the first place. This still doesn’t provide real self-service.
The reality is, expecting business users to get up to speed with very technical BI tools and get an understanding of tables and schemas, and being able to bring data together from disparate sources is unrealistic. They don’t need to understand any of the technicalities. From their perspective there is specific language and vocabulary that they work with and they want to be able to use that to get an answer to their questions! Because of this, there are currently in the region of 3 million people in the world with a job title that is equivalent to Business Analyst or Data Analyst, in other words, people who create reports using BI tools. Contrast that with the nearly 3 billion people currently in the workforce! Even if you said less than a third of those would be in position to ask questions, that would still be in excess of 500 million people! This is why there is always a backlog! This is why you have to wait to get answers to questions. It’s just not scalable! Add to this the fact that 80% or more of the questions asked will be ad-hoc, so allowing business users to answer these questions themselves, rather than overloading the highly skilled and expensive BI resources, is critical to companies succeeding!
So, why Knowi?
When I looked at Knowi, it was a real lightbulb moment! For me, this was a significant step forward! This is something that changes the market and changes the way people are going to work. It ticked all the boxes of bringing all of the data sources together, whether from a SQL source, a NoSQL source, semi-structured data, API’s, data lakes etc, allowing joins across any of the data sources to get a correlated view across all the data sets, allowing you to access the data at source, or even provide the option to cache the data for ad-hoc use cases. It allows business logic transformations on the data, if required, and even gives the business users a real self-service tool, allowing natural language questions to access the data! Knowi effectively changes the way the BI can now be done, without having to use expensive and complex ETL tools, without the need to build Data Warehouses and Data Marts and being about to do away with the complex BI tools that block business users capability to answer their own questions!
That was something I wanted to be part of!
After all of this, if you want to see what got me so excited, come and talk to us, and see how your future could look for you…
Director of Solutions Engineering at Knowi