If we needed any more evidence that big data is big business, a Stanford University spin-off specializing in data analysis for finance, government agencies, and health care just snagged a $55 million funding round. Ayasdi (which was previously named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies Of 2015) will use the money, which came in a Series C round led by Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers, for software upgrades, sales, and marketing.
Ayasdi, which uses a technique called topological data analysis to visualize extremely complex data sets in the form of shapes, currently has close to $100 million in funding. They work in a similar sphere to fellow Silicon Valley firm Palantir, but have reportedly increasingly focused on health care alongside both companies’ core customer bases in finance and government.
Gurjeet Singh, Ayasdi’s CEO, told Fast Company in a telephone conversation that “Complexity is the challenge. For us, the number of possible insights in a dataset is an exponential function of size.” Singh says the company sees growth in newer areas such as private banking and biomarkers. Medical giant Mercy Hospitals, for example, worked with Ayasdi to navigate data in electronic medical records in order to generate customized “care paths” for patients, which could then be accessed by health care professionals on in-hospital-room iPads. Other uses include finance giant Citi finding critical variables in risk models with the platform, and Lockheed using the software to find issues related to upcoming projects. Mercy estimates its use of Ayasdi for the so-called care paths will save $100 million over the next three years.
Ayasdi’s clients reportedly include Citi, Lockheed, Mercy, Credit Suisse, Novo Nordisk, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, Mitsui, and Siemens.
Despite the media hype surrounding big data, specialized data analysis platforms have had a slower time penetrating the market outside of a few verticals such as finance, health care, and energy. Finding insights using the software takes time, and there’s also a limited supply of in-house experts clients can use to work with the software. For Ayasdi and similar competitors, the big challenge is sales and building relationships with like-minded clients.