Software // Information Management
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6/11/2010
08:14 AM
Rajan Chandras
Rajan Chandras
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Twitter Gets Trendly

Twitter just acquired SmallThought Systems, a company with a couple of cool analytic products that are small, simple, sufficient and sexy. In other words, they are a slap in the face of conventional Business Intelligence and conventional information modeling.

Twitter just acquired a company with a couple of cool analytic products that are small, simple, sufficient and sexy. In other words, they are a slap in the face of conventional Business Intelligence and conventional information modeling.

The company is called SmallThought Systems, and makes a living -- now it'll make an even better one -- selling two products called Dabble DB and Trendly.Dabble DB is a very simple database application -- eat your heart out, Microsoft Access -- that can elegantly serve any simple data analysis and visualization needs. You copy-paste your data from Excel (literally) into Dabble DB, and you're ready to start analyzing and visualizing the data. Nice -- fun, even -- but nothing especially exciting, eh? Here's what makes it exciting: Right from there, you could change the data model. Not just rename a column, but actually migrate the column (logically) from one entity to another entity. Sounds astonishing, but Dabble DB proves how simple and common sense entity-relationship modeling really is, something we've known in our bones all along. Allowing users to change the data model on the fly to better fit the business requirement -- what a quaint thought!

But that isn't why Twitter purchased SmallThought Systems.

There's another product from the same company, Trendly, that seems to have gotten Twitter all a-twitter (sorry, couldn't resist that -- and I know it can't be original!). Trendly also does a relatively simple job: make common sense out of reams of Web analytic data, and present it in a nice, friendly fashion. Mind you, the data's all there in (say) Google Analytics, but as the company puts it, "Google Analytics keeps track of your Web site. We keep track of your Google Analytics."

What really appeals to me is the apparent simplicity of it all. I've always believed that greatness often stems from simplicity -- for example, the original Erwin software, earlier versions of Microsoft SQL Server, the Google interface, QlikView etc.

For all the so-called BI technology leaders out there that seem to be tirelessly pushing their products (not to mention their licensing) up to ever-dizzying heights of complexity and cost, this is a direct slap to the face -- and a portent of the future.

Regretfully, this company -- and these products -- will now be gone from sight. But it was a refreshing interlude.Twitter just acquired SmallThought Systems, a company with a couple of cool analytic products that are small, simple, sufficient and sexy. In other words, they are a slap in the face of conventional Business Intelligence and conventional information modeling.

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