As the head of product strategy at Incorta, I spend a lot of time thinking about the future of how business users intersect with data analytics and data science. While predicting specific outcomes over long timeframes is a fool's errand, there are certain gigantic trends that start out as far fetched; gain traction over time, and eventually come to seem inevitable (e.g. mobile, cloud, electric vehicles).
When it comes to data analytics – and software more generally – one of the biggest trends of the past decade is the shift to “competitive collaboration,” sometimes also called “coopetition.” In other words, the idea that competing companies can put aside their differences and work together at certain times and in certain areas for mutual benefit. That is an important part of our product strategy at Incorta.
Behind the megatrend
Several factors are driving this megatrend. The cloud and the mobile phone have created a more open and connected world, one that is more fast paced and where companies can scale very quickly. It took the game changing invention of 1878, the telephone, nearly 80 years to reach 100 million users. It took the mobile phone, invented about a century later, about 15 years to hit that mark. It took the 2012 game Candy Crush Saga just 15 months.
Competition has increased dramatically. A 2017 report from Price Intelligently showed modern SaaS companies having more than nine competitors in their first year of business. Five years earlier, that number was 2.6.
And, customer expectations have changed. Today’s customer has come to expect simple, intelligent experiences where complexity is masked by technology. And they’re unwilling to be tied to a single brand or product ecosystem. Companies must act fast to win their hearts and minds by delivering tangible value.
The winning strategy
Openness, collaboration, and interoperability is the winning strategy in this new world. There is an emerging worldview that there’s no hard cap on opportunity and value. Value is not something you extract from the customer; it’s something you enable them to create. It’s not zero-sum, it’s positive-sum.
For vendors, this approach cements a focus on delivering amazing experiences as the key to keeping their customers’ business. This mindset of “we always need to continue winning your business” spurs innovation, keeps vendors’ platforms in step with the latest technological advances in the ecosystem, and paves the way to more and better experiences for users. If you want to deliver the best experience, then you have to build products that play nicely with others – even when there is competitive overlap.
Why coopetition matters for data analytics
This is particularly important for data analytics for a number of reasons. Organizations have large stores of data in data warehouses, but these days a lot of data lives outside the organization as well, in SaaS systems and third party data sources. And, they have their favorite tools for working with data and are no longer willing to be tied to a single ecosystem. They want the data they want, when they want it, on the platform or device of their choosing.
That’s what enables them to create value for their business, and that’s what underpins our recent partnership with Microsoft Azure, which I wrote about in an earlier blog. TL;DR: Incorta and Microsoft teamed up to make Oracle EBS and Oracle Cloud ERP more accessible to Azure Synapse customers with Incorta Intelligent Ingest accelerating time-to-insight.
There are a few things that make this tale of collaborative competition an interesting example of the trend, as well as a window into how we think about product at Incorta:
(1) The fact that Microsoft and Oracle are even on friendly terms in the first place is remarkable. The thought of Microsoft and Oracle working together would have been unimaginable ten years ago. I know--I spent 15 years working at Oracle and was thoroughly indoctrinated into thinking of Microsoft as a mortal enemy. That didn’t stop them from hiring me--my time at Oracle sandwiched a stint at Microsoft as a program manager. Fun fact: I am the only person in the world who has ever worked at all three companies – Oracle, Microsoft, and now Incorta – although I don’t think that will be the case forever. (We are hiring!)
(2) The fact that Microsoft selected Incorta instead of using its own proprietary data ingest technology, Azure Data Factory. Microsoft chose Incorta because of our unrivaled expertise in Oracle systems and the complexity of the data that resides in them. It’s a testament to the company’s commitment to placing the interests of customers above all else in order to deliver the best possible experience
(3) The fact that Incorta is partnering with Microsoft to deliver a unified data experience when our Unified Data Analytics Platform (UDAP) is fully capable of supporting the data journey from start to finish on its own. Sounds counterintuitive, but it’s actually a no-brainer: Azure is where today’s leading organizations go when it’s time to consolidate platforms and services in the cloud. These companies are looking to work with fewer vendors, not more. By partnering with Microsoft, we have the opportunity to work with customers that would not have otherwise found Incorta on their own because they were not looking.
Committed to collaboration and choice
Beyond our work with Microsoft, you can see our commitment to open standards, collaboration and customer choice in practice throughout the Incorta platform and ecosystem as well.
We aren’t preoccupied with vanity metrics such as how many people are using our native tools. Our sights are set on the bigger picture. Above all else, we want customers to have access to more data, and a more complete view of it. Individuals, teams and organizations are extremely complex – lots of simultaneous and competing needs, wants and preferences. The more products that plug into Incorta’s UDAP, the fewer data silos there are in the world. And the fewer data silos there are, the more freely people can innovate with data.
Take the Incorta Visualization Suite, for example. It’s no secret that people fall in love with the visualization tool of their choice. To ask someone to ditch their visualization and switch to another one just because someone in IT said so will only be met with resistance. We get it. That’s why Incorta’s UDAP supports Tableau, Power BI, Microstrategy, and other BI tools. Truth be told, we see people moving to Incorta Visualization from other tools because they prefer the experience, not because they were forced to adopt it.
Or Incorta Notebooks. Using Incorta’s UDAP, you can absolutely create Notebook experiences for data engineering and data science. But if you prefer external notebooks, that’s perfectly fine too. Customers are free to integrate them into the data journey on Incorta without breaking anything, (including a sweat)!
We recognize that every data journey is unique, and all of our partnerships, collaborations and integrations are based on putting customers first, rather than insisting that their data journey start or end with a single party.
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