On spreadsheets, big data, and GoodData’s Bashes

During a recent conversation I had with Mark Angel [founder of Knova Software and most recently the CTO at Kana], he was quick to point out that the ‘spreadsheet’ stage of cloud computing had yet to arrive. His point was that most of the computational horsepower of the cloud was still largely relegated to the technical elite inside organizations, and end-users had limited options on how cloud data were interpreted. Data, therefore, are frequently interpreted out of context, and far removed from the impacted business process. Nearly a generation ago, spreadsheets altered the corporate landscape by empowering end-users to manipulate data based on their expertise, unleashing an entirely new way of extracting meaningful insights from data. To Mark’s point, for many enterprises, that stage of cloud computing has yet to arrive.

The best opportunity for this ‘spreadsheet’ stage to take hold is in the white-hot field of big data. While capturing and storing data has never been cheaper, the opportunity to extend the ability to interpret this data to vast armies of knowledge workers has been limited. It was in that context that I found this morning’s announcement by GoodData of their Bashes to be an interesting development:

We call our apps “Bashes” — for business mash-ups — because they combine the best elements of consumer apps with modern, enterprise-class technologies. That means consumer apps’ clean and intuitive user interface, ease of use and device independence, with cloud-based business technologies that collect and manage structured and unstructured data from hundreds of sources. With Bashes, businesses can discern meaning from all the data flooding in from emails, social media, enterprise software and cloud apps.

Filling in Big Data’s Missing Link: Making Big Data Pay for Itself @romanstanek

Clearly there’s an opportunity to give today’s knowledge worker a spreadsheet-like environment to mash-up disparate data sets on the fly. It looks like GoodData’s positioning their platform, and Bashes, to be one of the spreadsheets for this generation’s knowledge worker.