Prospectors searching for gold in 1849 may have found a few nuggets, but Megan Kvamme has figured out how to unearth multiple gems every day.
Kvamme is the co-founder and CEO of FactGem, a startup that gives retailers a blueprint for advanced data analytics that helps sift out the “gems” inside mass amounts of data.
Using modern graph database technology, FactGem can uncover intentions, interests and interactions — along with the transactions and events that tie them all together. The FactGem Data Fabric weaves disparate data into a logical whole according to the business model and rules, not a data model built by IT. This allows businesses to get answers to complex questions in minutes or hours, instead of days and weeks.
A former investment banker, Kvamme describes the technology as providing a visual, powerful and scalable application that lets even non-technical users rapidly create a data model that matches their business model. “It is a model that can be understood by all business stakeholders,” she says. “If you can draw your business on a whiteboard, you can use FactGem to connect your data and get to insights.
“When we started talking to retailers about cycles and trends, it became clear that both are moving at a faster-than-ever pace, and so they need to move rapidly. Trying to sort through hundreds of Excel spreadsheets just doesn’t allow for quick insights to key questions,” she says. “The C-suite is tired of spending $25,000 every time they want to ask a question. Current tech solutions aren’t flexible and require too many touches before insights are uncovered, if they are at all.”
FactGem initially contracted its first retail customer, a Fortune 200 company, for a three-month proof-of-concept project. “We started with just a small portion of anonymized data on a flash drive, loaded it into the data model and in just a few hours we were delivering insights,” Kvamme says, noting that the company began talking about a long-term contract halfway through the test.
FactGem’s blueprint for advanced analytics, also known as the Data Fabric, consists of three key applications: WhiteboardR, a visual model builder; MappR, a tool used to upload and normalize data; and MonitR, which monitors data loads. The Data Fabric combines data from platforms and applications separated by purpose, geography or organizations into a unified data environment.
“Typically, when we begin working with a retail enterprise, we find that there’s no consensus on what the data model is. Historically, IT has held all the data,” Kvamme says. “But CMOs, COOs and CEOs need to look at the data with a unique perspective that has nothing to do with the minutia of technology or how data is stored.”
FactGem is built on graph database technology and can connect to multiple business intelligence tools including MicroStrategy and Tableau. Co-founder Clark Richey built the graph database. He and Kvamme worked on massive government and commercial projects prior to founding FactGem, and were all too familiar with searching for ways to bring together disparate sources of data to provide insights that would help inform business decisions.
“Retailers want to ask questions of their data, but it’s been stored in disconnected ways across different applications, creating disparate islands of information. The software that retailers use to map data and relationships varies by application, so getting the systems to talk to one another can be complex, expensive and labor intensive,” Kvamme says.
“FactGem solves this problem with an out-of-the-box application. It starts with the business questions retailers want to ask of the data. Users can model for the entities and relationships they care about. Then, the technology pulls the data in using visual applications,” she says.
“In essence, we’re turning the whiteboard into a physical, cohesive model that retailers can query or connect to business intelligence to get insights on the now connected data. And the beauty of it: We do it without disrupting the existing silos or requiring anyone to write any code.”