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KNIME: Data Analytics Made Easy—and Open
“It’s about getting really sophisticated data analysis to the fingertips of almost everybody in an organization,” says KNIME founder and CEO Michael Berthold about his open-source data platform.
KNIME, a startup taking part in the CTI Market Entry CAMP at swissnex San Francisco, allows anyone to integrate their own complex data—even their own analysis tools—to the platform, making it distinct from proprietary systems where all functionalities are sold by one vendor.
Data is way more centrally important than it used to be, notes Berthold. That’s why companies, for example, want to get answers out of their data on their own, almost at the click of a button.
KNIME has a legion of users of its free version—the open-source platform that allows data enthusiasts to write new statistical methods and share them. They also hire consultants who create sophisticated analyses that universities and companies can modify for their own purposes. And KNIME has a portal for upper-level management who get easy access to sophisticated and colorful reports.
One of their customers is Activision, makers of the wildly popular online game Call of Duty. As KNIME is often used for customer satisfaction analysis, for example on Amazon, KNIME founder and CEO Michael Berthold finds it interesting how customer satisfaction is defined for an online game: It is not about winning. It just needs to be fair.
In 2003, Berthold worked for a pharmaceutical software company in the Bay Area when he and his team first created an early version of the KNIME platform. When that company ran into trouble, he took a position at the University of Konstanz, in Germany, and brought two of his interns from the Bay Area with him to be PhD students and to continue developing their data project. The two interns are now CTO and COO of KNIME.
So why return to the Bay Area? As KNIME is open-source, they rely on the community of open-source users, of data analysis geeks, to contribute to the platform. That community is centered here.
Rosaria Silipo, data scientist at KNIME, says, “Technologically speaking, this is the center of the world. If you are known here, you are going to be known everywhere. Here you see what the competition is all about and you can watch and learn.”
Participating in the CTI Market Entry Camp at swissnex San Francisco eases that leap into the local scene and facilitates meaningful connections. Berthold sees the biggest value of the Camp in the swissnex network. “The value really lies in someone providing you with the right connections.”
Berthold, who is also doing a stint as a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, says he can barely figure out which scientific talks and events to participate in on any given day. “The scientific life here is super active. It is a great place to network with colleagues from academics, as well as industry.”