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8/27/2012
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DataSift Tools Help Non-Techies Mine Social Web

Push and Query Builder simplify management of big data streams, enable users to uncover relevant intelligence.

Social media sites generate vast amounts of consumer opinions--product picks and pans, likes and dislikes--as well as other data that businesses find valuable. But gathering, filtering, and analyzing volumes of unstructured data is a relatively new science, one that many enterprises aren't properly equipped to handle.

DataSift, a social data software startup, has launched Push and Query Builder, two big data tools designed to help non-technical managers mine and filter feeds from social sites. Both products work with DataSift's cloud-based platform, which aggregates, processes, and categorizes massive amounts of social data from a variety of real-time feeds, including Twitter and Klout. The platform is "data-agnostic," meaning it can take in any kind of data feed.

"Even if you are running in-house tools, you still can ingest data from (DataSift's) cloud into your private infrastructure," said DataSift founder and CTO Nick Halstead in a phone interview with InformationWeek.

After spending a few years building out its infrastructure, DataSift launched its social data platform in November 2011. The company has customers in 30-plus cities, including "hundreds" of corporate clients in a variety of different sectors.

"We're processing massive volumes of data in just a few hundred milliseconds," said DataSift CEO Rob Bailey.

[ Learn what Alteryx says to do When Big Data Questions Can't Wait For Data Scientists. ]

SecondSync, a United Kingdom company that extracts real-time semantic data from British television shows, uses DataSift to track TV news programs. The DataSift platform allows SecondSync to monitor hundreds of programs simultaneously, and track mentions of the shows and their actors.

"They watch the TV schedules and understand which hashtags on Twitter are related to TV programs," said Halstead of SecondSync. "We're the doing the heavy lifting of running those hundreds or thousands of data streams, and doing the processing for them."

The new Push and Query Builder tools simplify data mining for users who lack technical chops. Push, for instance, is a data-delivery system that gives organizations greater control over the social media feeds they receive. Users log into DataSift's platform, set up the feeds, and schedule when, how, and where they'll receive the data. Companies can integrate and analyze social feeds alongside their own business data as well.

Query Builder provides a graphical interface for DataSift's platform, allowing non-programmers to create filters to mine the social Web for real-time and historical data. Users can configure Query Builder's user interface, which is written in HTML 5 and JavaScript, by adding and removing functions and data sources to suit their needs.

Query Builder "makes anyone who's non-technical able to do fantastically powerful things using our platform," said Halstead, who demoed the product in a brief YouTube video.

"It's much easier for us to deliver data directly into other data warehouses and cloud services without having to do any kind of API," he said.

When asked about DataSift's competitors, Bailey said several companies have similar offerings, including Gnip. Based in Boulder, Colo., Gnip delivers social data, including feeds from Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, and Disqus, to enterprise customers.

Push and Query Builder are just the start of usability enhancements for big data tools, Bailey said.

"We will continue to make it easier for social media monitoring companies and news organizations to work with social data," he said. "Our goal is to do all the heavy, messy work around working with social data--the cleaning, normalizing, storing, and delivery--so that our customers can increasingly focus on building better applications that are easier for end users to use."

InformationWeek is conducting a survey on big data. Take our InformationWeek 2013 Big Data Survey now. Survey ends Aug. 31.

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