At Syndetic we make software for data companies. Syndetic literally means connective. It comes from the Greek word syndetikos, which means to bind together. We chose this name because data is connective. While it has become a cliche that data is the new oil, we actually see data as the connective tissue that binds companies to each other. They exchange it in the course of transacting; they ingest it to power their businesses, and they sell it (or give it away) to add value to the greater ecosystem. We’re starting today with tools for companies that sell data, which are often misunderstood. Data-as-a-service is relatively new, but more and more companies are offering a data product alongside their core business because they have, in the course of building that business, built a valuable dataset as well.
Companies that sell data need to do two things in addition to building their dataset:
- Convey the meaning of their data
- Convey its value
Achieving these two things is surprisingly difficult. Why? For one thing, there is a lack of tools in the market specifically designed for DaaS, which means there are a lot of hacked together solutions out there. For another, data is by its nature fluid. Building software for a thing that is constantly changing is difficult. Lastly, there is increased competition in the data marketplace, as more and more data companies are founded in every vertical, and more incumbents launch data products.
So when a salesperson at a data company calls up a prospect and says “I have some really valuable data I’d like to sell you,” the first thing the prospect is likely to ask is “Okay, what kind of data is it? And how do I know that it’s valuable to me?” And then the salesperson will say, “Let me send you our data dictionary, which explains our data schema, and a sample of the data so you can see what you think.”
Today, data dictionaries are almost always spreadsheets. Some companies keep a spreadsheet in a folder in a shared drive, some use a Google sheet, and some use a Word document that consists of a list of field names, types, and their business meaning. Who manages that spreadsheet often depends on the size of the company and the structure of their data organization – at a tech company or a startup it might be a data scientist, but at a large enterprise it might be a data steward or person responsible for a data governance program. Some companies have lots of process around the spreadsheet – there is an owner who is in charge of the whole spreadsheet, or maybe certain tabs or fields. If someone else who uses the spreadsheet needs to make an update to it, they will send a request to the owner, or submit a ticket through a project management tool. There is some approval process to make the change. Only certain people are allowed to send the spreadsheet out to prospects or current customers. When a field name or definition changes, chaos reigns. Who is in charge of updating the spreadsheet? Who is responsible for letting the customer know so their data pipeline doesn’t break?
This is why we are introducing Syndetic: a web platform for conveying the meaning and value of your datasets. We are purpose-built for DaaS companies, so you don’t need to hack another tool to work for data. We know that it is fluid. We know that what engineering does affects the business side, and vice versa. We know that depending on the use case, different fields may mean different things to different people.
Go to www.getsyndetic.com to get started – upload your current data dictionary, or create one from scratch.
Allison and Steve, Cofounders