Hex gets exciting! Malloy; Autonomous Systems; ThDPTh #43
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The company Hex Technologies with their notebook application supporting both
SQL and Python just raised a Series A this week.
This of course prompted me to take a closer look at the product (again), and get excited!
Read about it below…
I’m Sven, I collect “Data Points” to help understand & shape the future, one powered by data.
If you only have 30 seconds to spare, here is what I would consider actionable insights for investors, data leaders, and data company founders.
- Hex notebooks are worth a try. They already offer enough to be fun to use, SQL & Python cells and parameters enabling “storytelling” and building small “Apps” which can be integrated into a CRM System, etc.
- Hex has a data vision. A data vision is a vision for the future of the whole market. They seem to have a good one and integrate their own product vision into that. Every data company should have that, yet few do.
- The 5 level autonomous driving system can be useful. It can be useful in designing your own autonomous systems because it adds a nice framework for seeing where you’re truly at, and where you could go.
- Malloy is about to get interesting. Malloy is a language compiling to SQL and soon to support PostgreSQL on top of BigQuery.
🔥 What: Hex basically provides notebooks to work both in Python & SQL. In a collaborative model as well as a sharing option. The three core elements are a logic layer which is the notebooks; An “App layer” which is called an “integrated UI” builder; And finally the sharing capabilities.
🐰 My perspective: I think Hex is trying to scratch on something I find very important in data startups, and am missing in a lot of them. It’s the data vision for the data space!
I think Hex is not targeting traditional “data teams” but rather they are building for a future in which the boundaries between “data team”, “business side” and “development teams” are increasingly blurred, possibly cut horizontally, not vertically anymore.
“At Hex, we are building for the growing population of Analytically Technical users, who are data-driven and able to write SQL or Python, but shouldn’t have to struggle through all the overhead to do it. ” — Series A announcement.
The quote points in exactly that direction. Another thing I like about Hex is that they are not naming them “dashboard builder” but “App builder”. Why? Because I personally think data should be where people use it. They shouldn’t have to go to some centralized place to access data, breaking their workflow.
I want the data for salespeople embedded in their main tool, e.g. the CRM system. The data for the marketing people inside their system. I need “apps” and “integrated UIs” for that. I hope that’s what they are aiming at.
Hex also has both Python & SQL cells which makes it finally easy to blend between analysts & more tech-savvy people (which usually are also analysts!). The added parameters inside the notebooks really allow one already to turn them into a little “App”.
Now the punch line: There are trends that are moving more into a data world which is cut along “business boundaries” and not so much along “technological boundaries” but it remains the case that a lot of data thinking is extremely centered around the latter idea of building huge monoliths and centralizing data, which is making the former much harder.
Seems that Hex will have to take a key part, just like the company dbt labs, in evangelizing and pushing towards this new data future they build their product(s) for.
I’m excited for Hex that they are moving in this direction because it’s one that will finally unlock a lot of value that hasn’t been captured so far and stays hidden inside data silos in companies.
🎁 What: Autonomous driving is a topic of intense research and also, thanks to its potential problems, a good case study for other areas of autonomous systems. The level of autonomous driving is a classification from 0 to 5 of different levels of driving automation. Level 1 automation means having one simple subsystem automated; Level 2 means having a combination of systems automated in specific scenarios. This also means, for both levels 1 & 2 we need an active driver. Notice, currently there are no cars sold which go beyond level 2.
Level 3 means, you have to drive if the system alerts you, level 4 & 5 mean you do not have to drive at all.
🐰 My perspective: Besides the obvious and important fact that you still have to drive yourself, I really like the classification as it makes a good candidate for a generic classification of any autonomous system.
Indeed I would find it much easier if autonomous systems were designed with these levels in mind.
Let’s think about that, how does this apply to a customer support email sorting system? Most such sorting systems are based on a classifier and historical data putting emails into different “queues” where customer service people with expertise in that topic will answer the questions.
If you take advanced solutions, these solutions might go as far as having a level 2.5/3 automation meaning they sort email and prepare answers or at least text chunks for use in the answer.
The Disney+ & Netflix recommendation systems some time ago made the jump from level 2 to 3 and started to “auto-play” parts of recommendations.
That’s it, I don’t know if it’s helpful to you, I just stumbled over it and liked it; And yeah, the obvious fact again, a lot of systems are not really at level 5 yet.
🔮 What: Malloy, developed by Looker, is a language that seems to make working with SQL a bit easier.
🐰 My perspective: I don’t have much of a perspective here right now, but I always enjoy it when people build tools that make work easier. And it seems that Malloy is going into a direction that basically says “duh, this SQL thingy was originally designed for transactional stuff, now we might want to adapt it to the analytical age as well”.
That sounds like a reasonable proposition.
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