Data-as-a-Service: Market Definitions
Updated Dec 4th and 5th, 2010: Revisited and updated the list based on new insights and activities. For details, see: here
A recent post by GigaOm’s Imran Ali on the field of Data-as-a-Service made me think how vaguely our young field is still defined. Imran – somewhat randomly – lists Factual, Infochimps, and Google Squared as three services in the field, with mentions of the (now sadly defunct) Swivel and DabbleDB. To me, these five services aim to fulfill quite different needs, and I suspect that most of them hardly see (or saw) each others really as competitors.
Following through on that thought, I decided to try to come up with a categorization that could describe the exciting startup companies and services that I’ve been watching (and starting) in the data-as-a-service field.
Here’s what I came up with:
- Data Markets: Services that make it easy to find data from a range of secondary data sources, then consume or acquire the data in a usable – and often unified – format. Several of these services are trying to create marketplaces for data, envisioning that data providers can offer their data sets for sale to data seekers. These services are aiming to be “Amazon for Data”, while others in the category might be more accurate described as “Ebay for Data” or even “Wikipedia for data”
- Online Visualization Services: Services that allow users to upload data, make charts and visualizations and publish these to an online audience. These would be what Michael Arrington coined as “YouTube for Data” when he first saw Swivel.
- Personal databases-as-a-service: Online database services, in many ways filling the slot of light-weight database software such as Access or FileMaker, yet playing to the strengths of being online. Imran Ali earlier experimented with calling Factual “Flickr for Data” , but I think “Google Docs for Data” covers this better.
- Data Publishing Solutions: Services that allow data owners, such as public sector organizations, research companies or other data-heavy organizatons to publish their data collections and make them available to an online audience either for free or for a fee. The offering will typically be made available on the publishers’ own websites or at least in an environment where they have a high level of control. These are the e-commerce or CMS system equivalents for data. From an old fascination with CafePress, I’m calling this one “CafePress for Data”, but “WordPress for Data” or “Magento for Data” might in fact describe these services better.
There are further categories that are certainly related, but in some ways already better defined. Online Business Intelligence services are one such example.
Below is a list of a few companies and product offerings that I’ve been following, fit – as I understand them and where they’re heading - into the categories defined above. Feel free to offer different opinions and add companies or services by commenting below, and I’ll try to update the list accordingly:
(Amazon for Data)
(YouTube for Data)
(Google Docs for Data)
|Data Publishing Solutions
(CafePress for Data)
|Google Public Data||X|
|Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket||X|
|Google Fusion Tables||X||X|
Honorable mentions, that still don’t fit the list perfectly include: Pachube, Amazon Public Datasets and WolframAlpha.