It was revealed earlier this year that data integration and integrity vendor Talend would be going private, after it was acquired by private equity investment firm Thoma Bravo for $2.4 billion. The deal closed in September and now without the pressures of quarterly performance, Talend is taking a long-term view of how to deliver healthy data to users across the enterprise.
It's first release since going private was announced today, which gives us some insight into the direction of travel for the firm. Talend's proposition centers on the idea of ‘data health' and trying to give customers trust in how they use their data.
This is of course a problem that has plagued buyers for years and is becoming increasingly difficult as the amount of data enterprises acquire continues to proliferate. We've seen renewed focus on the infrastructure of data, as companies realise that providing users with dashboards and BI tools isn't enough to encourage effective data use at scale.
The organization as a whole needs to have trust in its data pipelines and then make that data reusable and consistent across users/departments.
With this in mind, Talend has made a number of product announcements that aim to encourage a culture of data use that can be trusted, where there's a wide understanding of how healthy the company's data is.
Speaking with Jamie Fiorda, VP of Product at Talend, he says that at the moment billions of dollars worldwide is being invested in a variety of digital transformation efforts, but that there's really just fractions of success. That's because, Fiorda says, organizations continue to struggle with basic problems, such as: getting to a meeting and one person's data report not matching with another's.
Then time is wasted on validating that data, figuring out what is accurate and what isn't, instead of moving the organization forward. Fiorda explains:
The fundamental reason that that happens is because there's not the right platform underlying all those other investments. Those other investments are important, but the world needs to get to a point where people trust their data.
We think that that's a big problem that needs to get solved. We also think that the data integration technologies of yesterday are not the right solutions for the future. And that's why we are now focused on providing companies something that we call data health.
Fiorda says that ‘data health' can be thought of as how well a company's data supports its business objectives. This, he adds, is different to other data integration providers that think value comes from connecting data sources to a location, or providing a BI tool to users. He explains:
We're really trying to think about: how do we help our customers connect to the business outcomes that they really need to achieve?
And the way to do that is to ensure that there are preventative measures in place. The best way to explain it is with a metaphor, thinking about it like we do our personal health. We exercise, we diet, we have regular checkups. We do these things to preempt problems.
And that's an important part of how we sustain ourselves. We need to do the same thing with the data that we work with. The second part is that when we do find a problem, when we get ill or injured, we need to have a treatment at hand so that we can solve it and move past it.
Fall release ‘21
Given this context, Talend today has sought to apply these data health concepts across its platform, introducing a number of new features in its Fall ‘21 release.
We spoke with, Justyn Davidson, Technical Product Manager at Talend, about the announcements. The first of which is Data Quality Service, a package that aims to lets buyers take advantage of Talend's data quality technology, frameworks, dashboards and specialists, with the aim of helping them monitor the quality of business-critical data continuously. Davidson explains:
We encounter a lot of companies who simply have so much data that they can't sort it out and they can't find the bandwidth. They don't have the runway they need to even get started. Data Quality Services is about allowing these companies to benefit from Talend's deep data expertise, without having to deploy technology or really wait on anything. Our professional services team, our experts, come in and they help the organisation identify and manage and visualise the quality of their most critical data assets.
So they find the data assets that are actually delivering value at this moment and we start managing those assets for the company and provide ongoing monitoring, ongoing reporting. We're addressing data drift over time. It's a services only solution, is subscription based, so it's got predictable pricing. This is really the fastest time to value for customers who just need to improve their data quality metrics, and don't have done other runway to do it themselves.
Secondly, Talend has announced the inclusion of Native Trust Score for Snowflake, a popular tool that helps companies unify, monetize, and share data from across multiple cloud providers. Davidson says:
While Snowflake customers can easily ingest their data, they can always trust that data. And that's why we're announcing native trust score, which the Talend trust score embedded, using Snowflake processing to actually do the calculations. It's built to leverage the customers' investment in Snowflake and their Snowflake credits, so that they can scale up easily and get that sort of full run on the dataset. So instead of using a sample set of data, as we calculate Snowflake, we're using the entire data set so that the trust core gets really accurate.
In addition to the above, Talend has also announced self-service data API sharing in Talend Data Fabric, a no-code product that aims to enable data engineers to run processes, applications and analytics without relying on a developer. Davidson says:
This is really about providing a business analyst or data analysts the functionality that they need so that after they're done finding and organising and cleansing the data, they then deliver that data across the organisation. This allows them to, with just a few clicks, stand an API up and operationalize it for any consumers that we've got out there.
This is instant app integration, it's all standards based, so any common system like Salesforce will be a common integration point for our customers. But the bottom line is the user doesn't need to know anything about the underlying technologies, or how to work with APIs, they just click, enter some information around security, and that thing is deployed, the endpoint is hosted on a Talend engine, so it's all done for them and they can start consuming it within just a couple of minutes.
Finally, Talend has announced what it's calling non-consumption based pricing for Stitch, which it acquired a few years ago and is an ETL tool that moves data from 130+ sources into a data warehouse. The hope is that by removing consumption based pricing for Stitch, users will be encouraged to use more data, more often. Davidson says:
Almost every Talend competitor prices on consumption and we've really taken a different road here. Talend cloud products don't charge on consumption and now with Stitch there's no consumption as well. What we want to avoid is customers doing that constant, what's our bill gonna look like? Can we afford this other integration? They're disincentivized to use their data and we want to make sure that our platform incentivizes customers to use their data. So as far as the market goes this is an innovative thought process.
Data is a resource - manage it as such
Products only take a company so far though, particularly as it relates to data use. Time and time again we see data initiatives fail because buyers don't encourage a culture of data use, hoping that it just happens because they've bought some new software. So, what is the key to success?
Fiorda says that a common them that he sees amongst customers that do this well, is that they manage data like the resource it is. He explains:
I think that what I would say is, a lot of businesses know that data is one of their most important assets and their most important resources. But when you step back from it, do they manage it like they manage people or buildings or other assets that they have? And what that means is, do they have the ability to measure it? And the effectiveness of it, so that they can manage it?
Nobody has really created the platform to measure their data and the effectiveness of their data. We're starting to do that. And the customers that are starting to take advantage of things like the trust score, they're able to get a quantitative measure. And what that means is that they can make resource allocation decisions, where they focus their team to address the most important business problems that need to be solved.
And that ability for a leader or any data engineer to say, this is the most important place where I need to focus my time, this is my priority now, is a fundamentally different way to think about how data teams prioritise their limited time. There's already too much work. There's too many tickets. How do we help them scale? Well, it has to come through prioritisation. And the businesses that we're seeing that are having success are starting to do this.