Executives make important decisions every day. Many of those decisions rely upon the data available to them. Timely data retrieval costs money — a lot of money — and often takes too much time. Incorta, a company based in San Mateo, California, has figured out a way to solve both of those problems.
Incorta CEO and co-founder Osama Elklady.
Incorta CEO and co-founder Osama Elklady spent 20 years at Oracle, trying to figure out how to efficiently get the internal data executives needed to make decisions.
“People have all these systems stuck together,” Elklady said. “They have to rely on multiple layers of data to get one number to make the right decision. That takes so much time, and usually the data is not accurate.”
Elklady said there had been no real innovation in data retrieval since the 1970s when the relational database was invented, and is being used up until today.
“It was meant and designed to store data efficiently, but not to retrieve data,” he said.
Companies implemented workarounds to try to solve the problem. Some spent lots of money on consultants to build data “warehouses” where executives could retrieve the data they needed.
Diagram of the Incorta Analytics Platform.
“Building that warehouse takes months and months,” Elklady said. “You need an army of people and consultants. You spend millions of dollars.”
And when you have new questions to answer, it’s more time and money to hire consultants to come up with the answers. Elklady said that of the $60 billion spent worldwide on data management, 75 percent of that money goes to consultants and 25 percent goes to hardware.
“There’s something wrong there,” Elklady said. “If I want to drive my car, and I need people to push my car every day, there must be something wrong with the car, right?”
With Incorta, Elklady set out to develop a new database technology that would not just store data, but would be able to retrieve data from all the existing systems efficiently, and be “extremely fast.”
“You don’t have to do a workaround, you don’t need an army of consultants, you get all the data in real time and answer any questions without consultants,” Elklady said.
Starbucks used Incorta to solve a big problem. The company was throwing away huge amounts of food from its 26,000 stores every day because nobody had bought it by the end of the day. Throwing away food was throwing away money.
With Incorta, Starbucks is able to determine what’s going on with all of its food around the world in 10 minutes, according to Elklady.
Three of the four founders of Incorta (from left: Hichem Sellami, Osama Elkady, Matthew Halliday. … [+]
“They can know by 1 p.m. which stores have food or not and what the activity is,” Elklady said. “If food is selling slowly they send a notification to customers with a Starbucks app on their phones inviting them to come and get a free coffee.”
Often the free coffee leads to food purchases. Problem solved. If not, Starbucks knows in time to schedule a food donation truck to come by so they don’t have to throw the food away, thanks to Incorta.
Elklady says in less than one month of using Incorta, Starbucks was able to save 40 percent on food waste. The company has been using the program for two years now.
Incorta was founded about six years ago and is privately held. Its investors include Google, Microsoft and Kleiner and Perkins, the venture capital firm that famously backed both Amazon.com and Google.
Elklady says Incorta is roughly tripling in size every year.
“Last year we were 80 people, today we are more than 300 people,” he said.
Interestingly, Oracle did not invest in the company.