What if you amassed petabytes of data, then realized you had nothing you wanted to do with it? It’s not enough to hoard data, or run basic analytics hoping for patterns. To create the true promise of a big data revolution, nPario President and CEO Bassel Ojjeh says the industry needs big apps. His startup has just raised $5 million in a first round of funding from WPP Digital (s WPPGY ) to help make those apps possible.
For example, nPario already counts WPP (as well as Electronic Arts and Yahoo) as a customer of its software. The company’s product for marketers takes in an assortment of information such as demographics, web surfing history and even IP addresses to serve up advertisements based on that data. It’s like targeted advertising on speed — speed tweaked to give you the best high based on a quick read of your DNA.
That’s the pitch anyway, and to build its software — which can be purchased as a hosted product or sold and run inside a company’s data center — nPario licensed some of the technology associated with columnar databases created at Yahoo. Building scalable columnar databases is a challenge (Aster Data and Vertica both did it and both were purchased this year). Now nPario has exclusive access to Yahoo’s technology (Ojjeh worked at Yahoo trying to analyze and wrangle some of the big data available to him at the portal). Ojjeh said nPario, which was formed in January 2010, also allows programmers to work with the data in a SQL format if they like.
As for taking investment from WPP, Ojjeh point out that the company — which pulls in more than $15 billion in revenue in the marketing and advertising sector — has its hands full trying to analyze the effectiveness of ads served up via digital media, and it wants to grow that aspect of its business so the digital side becomes 50 percent of the firm’s revenue. Tools like those nPario offers will help, and with WPP has a strategic investor, nPario doesn’t have to play one publisher against another.
Beyond his business, Ojjeh is also preaching that big data needs big apps to show companies why and how they can take the information they’re storing and filter through it. “People are enamored by big data, but the next thing that happens is companies spend money storing it and looking for the big apps,” said Ojjeh. “If you can’t build scalable apps, then it doesn’t really matter. Your back is against the wall and the big apps have to follow the big data very quickly: otherwise it becomes a mirage of value.”