O Data, Data, wherefore art thou Data?

Over the past two years, 90% of the world’s data has been created and much of this data sits in silos – groups of raw data that is accessible by one department but isolated from others.

In the day-to-day operations of a company, data is naturally (depending on how you feel about technology being “natural”) produced. This generated data comes from many different sources such as; customers, research, IoT devices, emails, change in product price, supply chain timing, etc, etc. Essentially everything in the modern world has been distilled into a quantifiable metric that can be used within algorithms. This virtually stored information can often become forgotten, unused, or under-utilised.

This represents a significant problem. Without knowing about the data they hold, and where it’s held, businesses cannot make data-driven decisions needed to compete successfully. The solution is data discovery.

Data discovery is defined as “the process of discovering, cataloguing, and classifying information in different systems.” Organisations use data discovery to break down silos and aggregate all their data into a singular index. Thus, fully enabling their business intelligence tools and in-house AI projects.

With data discovery, organisations can also source lost or forgotten documents, protect IP rights, govern data access, and secure sensitive data. In truth, the potential of data discovery is only limited by an organisation’s creativity. It’s why data discovery has been in the top three most important trends in business intelligence for the past four years. 

To that end, we’ve put together the following snapshot of exciting data discovery startups – clearly this is not an exhaustive list, but a good start for any company looking to stay innovative and unlock their full data potential.


US-based, 2012 founded, $82.0m raised, 250+ employees

Client snapshot:

Albertsons, Boeing, eBay, Linkedin, GoDaddy & MunichRE

What do they do?

Alation’s platform merges machine learning with human insight to automatically capture information and drive business outcomes. From self-service analytics about where the data comes from, who’s using it and how it’s used, enabling analysts to find, collaborate and govern data for better and faster decisions.

Why we’re interested

One of Alation’s core features is their Behavioural Analytics Engine (BAE). BAE uses machine learning pattern recognition to see how data is being used, ranks its popularity, gives user breakdowns, and recommends how it can be used. This makes discovered data more accessible, instead of having to search through a catalogue, the system can automatically suggest what data might be best for individual users and business functions.


USA-based, 2015 founded, $71.3m raised, 100 – 250 employees

Client snapshot:

Associated Press, Mirum, Rare, UNEE & WPP

What do they do?

data.world’s cloud-native data catalogue maps your siloed, distributed data to familiar and consistent business concepts, creating a unified body of knowledge anyone can find, understand, and use. Their platform features metadata, project management, dashboards, pre-built integrations, connectors and application programming interfaces (APIs) among others.

Why we’re interested

A unique feature of data.world is their product’s automatic creation of a data knowledge graph. This creates an interconnected web of data for users to explore relationships and glean additional insights that may have not been noticed before. It also recommends related data assets that can be used for further enrichment. An additional effect of this knowledge graph is the collaboration element. Dispersed teams can see who is using data sets and why to potentially join together on related projects.


UK-based, 2017 founded, £7.8m raised, 25 – 50 employees

Client snapshot:

Arrow Global, GSK, LLoyds Banking Group, Mundipharma & Winton Capital

What do they do?

Exonar is an enterprise data discovery tool that finds, cleans, creates and maintains a single, intelligent index of all of an organisations data estate. Their software offers enterprise-scale, big data architecture and machine learning technology to identify critical customer information, handle diverse data sources and data types to identify sensitive and trivial information.

Why we’re interested

Exonar’s core focus is on data discovery and indexing. Their product Exonar Reveal, purely ingests, enriches, and indexes all of an organisation’s structured and unstructured data. With all the data cleanly indexed, organisations can easily search through their data for any business purposes. This index can be used in different ways, such as uncovering previously missed sensitive data to stop data leaks, ensure compliance, and feeding into business intelligence tools for further analysis.


Israel-based, 2015 founded, $6.2m raised, 25 – 50 employees

Client snapshot:

Digicel, First Interstate Bank, Great American Insurance Group, Liebherr & Stamford Health

What do they do?

OctopAI is an automated, centralised, cross-platform metadata search engine that enables BI groups to quickly and precisely discover and govern shared metadata. Their platform impact analysis tool is used as a navigator for BI and IT systems that manage multiple metadata systems and provide impact analysis helping in automated tracking throughout the information systems, enabling businesses to tackle their IT infrastructure.

Why we’re interested

An interesting feature of OctopAI’s product is the ability to automate data lineage. After the discovery process, OctopAI can trace data back to its roots, giving BI teams additional context to where the data came from, its relationships, and how it is all connected. This creates a data map to see where this data is stored, how it can be used, and what changes have been made since its introduction. 

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