Zoomdata grabs $4.1M to hold its own in next-generation BI world

Business-intelligence applications are getting easier to use, and others are becoming more capable of taking in data from clouds and other sources stored online. One of the companies sitting at the nexus of those trends, Zoomdata, picked up some validation Wednesday with $4.1 million in Series A venture funding.

Columbus Nova Technology Partners led the funding, alongside contributions from B7, CIT and Razor’s Edge Ventures, according to a company statement. The new capital will help the company add employees in engineering, operations, marketing and sales, and open an office in Silicon Valley. Zoomdata’s current headquarters is in Reston, Va.

We’ve written before about how Zoomdata’s application does heavy lifting behind the scenes with Storm to process streaming data and compare it against historical data before choosing the best possible visualization for the data. Because streaming data can be part of the equation, visualizations can change as time goes by, and customers can pause, rewind and fast-forward to see what effects the changes are having on the visualization.

It’s an application built with the mobile experience in mind. No lengthy commands need to be typed in to tweak queries. When the Zoomdata team stopped by GigaOM’s San Francisco office earlier this year, they demonstrated how easy it was to use with simple iPad (s aapl) inputs such as spreading fingers out to drill down on data and pinching in to see the big picture.

Because Zoomdata comes across as all-knowing but not intimidating, it’s the kind of product both executives and workaday analysts can get comfortable with. That helps democratize data — an all-important cause — across companies and, in the end, generate more insights for companies as a whole.

For cost and user-experience reasons, next-generation business intelligence from Zoomdata could pose a threat to old-school business-intelligence products such as IBM’s (s ibm) Cognos and Oracle’s (s orcl) Hyperion, according to a December 2012 GigaOM Research report on big data trends (subscription required).

Then again, Platfora, Roambi, Tidemark and others see opportunities to disrupt the old-guard BI options, too. And newly public Tableau (s data) has hefty visualization and data-integration capabilities. The new money could come in handy for keeping existing customers happy and stopping them from taking their business to other hot vendors.