Startup Spotlight – Exonar

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Previously, swiftscale gave a synapses of interesting startups that we uncovered in the data discovery space. To find out more about one of these companies, we virtually sat down with Exonar’s CMO, James McCarthy, to discuss their technology and how they are helping organisations through data discovery.

One of the interesting points of emerging technologies is how each company defines the area that they work in. Elaborating on what data discovery means to Exonar, James describes it as “knowing your data… really understanding what’s in there”. James continues “data discovery obviously is a nothing term in its own right… the outcome that we believe organisations need to be shooting for is that they know their data and they understand the data, because they own it. They have responsibility for it, they have a duty of care to look after it. We believe data discovery is the process whereby you get to know your data properly.”

Exonar believes that the best way for an organisation to get to know their data is through the creation of a data index, such an index is made by their product Exonar Reveal. A data index, simply put, is a “data structure that allows for data to be quickly located and accessed in a database.”  

“The index is really the magic behind Exonar… unless you can build an index that allows you to search all that information quickly, we would argue that you haven’t discovered your data.” 

This index is created by “ingesting all of [the companies] information. We go down through files, we go through the content… We see if there’s a zip file, we open the zip file and have a look at all the files inside. If there’s a hierarchy, we go all the way down the hierarchy. If it’s an email, we’ve got all the attachments. If the attachments are zip files, we open the attachments and look at all the files within the zip file”. All this information is then classified and placed in the index for ease of accessibility.

But what is data classification? It’s “broadly defined as the process of organising data by relevant categories so that it may be used and protected more efficiently.” 

Data classification is one of Exonar’s key differentiators, finding that many of their customers don’t know what data could be useful until the index has been created. James remarked on that insight, “the fundamental problem is most big organisations have petabytes upon petabytes of data and their data is in all sorts of locations, it is in all sorts of formats. Organisations don’t know what data they’ve got, where it is, how to find it, how to exploit it.” 

The exploitation of indexed data can come in a number of ways. Their clients can use the index to source better data to put into business intelligence tools, protect sensitive data that may currently be stored in the wrong place, and even protect their intellectual property rights. And there are countless other examples of how data indexes can be used:

“Normally, what then happens is once they start indexing everything, they start realising that actually they can solve a whole load of other pains as well. Once you’ve got that index of everything, you can start to really look for the value in your data, you can start to leverage that as your organisation and deliver more and more value off the back of it… there’s so much more you can do with it because it’s all there, it’s up to them and their creativity” 

To help organisations know their data even better, Exonar is now developing an add-on to their current offering. This will provide the ability  to pre-emptively connect the dots in their customers data. The vision for this as James described, “is a day where you wake up in the morning and instead of searching the index for what you want to find, we’re able to go to the customer and say, did you realise that your data over here and your data over here may be connected?”

A simple example of how that could help a business – stopping work duplication. Team members can check Exonar’s software to draw parallels to previously created research, making sure they aren’t embarking on a project that someone else has already started, or potentially finished.

Even though data discovery may not be the most interesting of headlines, it is important that every organisation has a grasp on the data that they currently hold. By discovering and indexing data, Exonar provides a key service that could potentially save companies not only hours of having to manually crawl through databases or risk reputational damage when sensitive information is leaked, but also make data readily available to be fed into mission-critical business applications. 

We were excited to see them making some waves recently, with the announcement of an undisclosed funding round in February and recently being announced as one of the Tech Nation Upscale 6.0 cohort, we look forward to following their progress throughout the year.

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