In an article published by the LA Times, it is reported that the online shopping giant has purchased a startup housed out of Santa Barbara in an effort to improve its virtual assistance devices’ ability to answer questions from users. The acquisition of the startup Graphiq, which was first started in 2009, is estimated to be at a value near $20 million. So what makes this purchase so important to the analytic community?
Graphiq is an analytics and search engine startup that worked with Amazon to develop an app for its Alexa product in an effort to provide answers to questions that users might ask of the virtual assistant. The ability for the Graphiq system to handle these requests has been an apparent success, and Amazon is looking to fund the product further in efforts to continue to improve the performance of its virtual assistant.
The purchase of an analytics company as a value-added service offering to an IoT virtual assistant device has profound impact on analytic platforms, such as our own iConnect platform, as it really begins to show that companies are realizing the importance of analytical data to help answer questions and provide meaningful answers back to end-uses. While the use case in this scenario is perhaps a little more apparent than in others, it does show that the value is there.
Graphiq’s Chief Executive Kevin O’Conner told Inc magazine that his goal is to “[not make] people think like computers, but [to make] computers think like people.” This statement clearly defines what all analytics companies are trying to do and that is make computers crunch through oceans of data, determine what information in that data is useful or important to end-users, and then boil that down to reports that is easier for consumption by those users. Additionally, every analytic company strives to be as predictive as possible in its reporting algorithms in an attempt to get a computer to think like a human and determine, of its own accord, what data is and is not important for the end-users.
I think that it is apparent that as we see more analytic startups come into the IoT sphere, and as we see more acquisitions such as the one mentioned here, businesses will start to see more value in going beyond the functionality of an IoT device and actually digging into the data that those devices are capturing every minute of every day.