For math nerds, analyzing and organizing giant heaps of data into digestible tidbits of knowledge is something that is both challenging and fun. For the rest of us, it’s hard enough to understand what a certain dataset means, let alone figure out a way to synthesize it into a comprehensible representation.
Undoubtedly there are numerous products out there with the sole purpose of crunching numbers and making them presentable. You know, like Microsoft Excel, Visual.y, and for the more tech-savvy, R. Add another to the list: San Diego-based Roambi, whose platform allows businesses to input and store their endless datasets and conjure them into aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-grasp visualizations. Today it announced a new way to more easily contextualize the data it crunches in the form of a magazine-like publishing add-on for iPads.
Indeed, that is one of the problems data presentations face: how best to explain and clarify a datapoint. It’s fine to see a nice looking graph, but unless it’s intended as a Rorschach you need to know what it really means (and can’t just blame your parents). Or as Roambi’s co-founder and president of product innovation Quinton Alsbury said, “At some point data breaks down; it’s just the ‘what.'”
Roambi’s latest product, Flow, is a publishing and reading platform that relies on Roambi’s data visualizations. While companies want to create good graphs, they also need to imbue them with meaning, and that means interpreting, summarizing and putting them into context. Think of it as a kind in-house digital magazine publisher.
Alsbury says that Roambi’s clients use Flow to create reports and analyses for their employees and customers, which makes it easier for businesses to represent their data, rather than providing a PowerPoint presentation containing graphs and maybe a sentence of context.
Roambi has been playing around with this feature for a while, Alsbury said. One early tester was the South African government, which used an early version of Flow in 2011 to publish and disseminate the country’s census data. South Africa white-labeled the app but Alsbury said this feature would not be widely available, although in certain cases it could happen again. For instance, if an entire country asks to use your app.
The app itself makes documents that only it can read, which could be a problem for a company trying to make a data-filled document to release many people. Alsbury doesn’t see it that way; he views Flow as he would any other reader. If Roambi users use Flow to create magazine-like presentation, it shouldn’t be hard for their clients to download the Flow reader either.
The company has more than 550 clients, who use it for data analysis, each generally paying a monthly fee based on how many users can have access to the platform. Alsbury thinks this could attract more customers who have a bunch of internal data to crunch but aren’t sure how best to display it. This is the second push for the company to reach more clients. A few months back it launched a cloud-based version of its product to entice smaller companies as opposed to big enterprises.
That being said, Alsbury is happy with his company’s momentum. With $44 million raised thus far, including a $30 million Series A led by Sequoia, he sees Roambi’s development as right on track.
Of course, if another country like South Africa decides to give it a whirl, that probably wouldn’t hurt either.