Problem with big data isn’t visualization, it’s scale


It’s no secret that big data is becoming central to almost every industry, but Ajeet Singh, the founder and CEO of private business-intelligence player ThoughtSpot, still sees some obstacles.

“We believe that the future belongs to ease of access of data, and we look at big data not as a visualization problem, but really, as a human scale problem,” Singh told CNBC in a Tuesday interview with “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer.

It’s easy to use comprehensive tools like Tableau Software’s offerings to bring data to the average worker, Singh said, but most companies still require professional help to make sense of the information.

“You still need an expert analyst to build a nice dashboard, and it takes about a week to do that. You need, really, fundamentally built technology that can be used by an average business user, and that is what ThoughtSpot provides,” Singh, also a co-founder of cloud play Nutanix, told Cramer.

ThoughtSpot makes artificial-intelligence-enabled software that give employees a simpler, Google-search-like way to sift through swaths of data for relevant information. Its technology lets users ask it questions in natural language and instantly get results in the form of answers, charts and dashboards built right away, Singh said.

With 12 Fortune 100 customers and 35 Fortune 500 customers, ThoughtSpot is typically integrated into an enterprise’s system and connected to various data sources and end users.

At Chevron, ThoughtSpot is working with the company’s human resources department to synthesize employee data, such as which benefits are working well for Chevron’s staff, where the company should boost hiring and how it can help people grow their careers, Singh said.

While companies like ServiceNow, Workday and Tableau all have their own ways of organizing administrative data, Singh said that ThoughtSpot is a more streamlined program that can connect to any of their systems to extrapolate their data even further.

“Those systems are systems of record,” he said. “ThoughtSpot connects to all those kinds of systems and then has all the data to analyze.”

And, though Singh works with artificial intelligence every day, he doesn’t share in the view that the technology could eventually get out of human control and wreak havoc on society.

“There has been a lot of discussion about AI taking over the world … I don’t subscribe to that dystopian view of the world. I really think that the key is going to be trust between man and machine,” Singh said.

The CEO likened the situation to when Henry Ford first launched the car a century ago and people said that Ford’s “fire-spewing monster” should not be let out on the road.

“We have learned to co-exist,” Singh said. “The [cars] have to drive in a lane. Similarly, the humans will control the lanes in which AI will have to drive, and that is also a very key thing for ThoughtSpot. Because every time we enable trust between the solution we are providing, we allow our users to look into what we did. So AI is not a black box for them.”

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