Data Analytics

The Need for Speed in Data Analysis

Emma McGrattan

December 16, 2020

GigaOm Blog

Why Performance Matters

My very first sales call to an analytics prospect was with a customer using an OLTP database for reporting. Some of their reports took hours to run and one particularly challenging report typically ran for more than thirteen hours. Our performance benchmarking had shown that for analytics workloads, Actian would be up to 100 times faster than an OLTP database and I was anxious to see if that would hold true in the real world. Indeed, we were able to take the 13-hour report and complete it in less than twenty seconds.

It felt like a punch to the gut when the customer informed us that speed did not matter to him because that particular report was run on Saturday nights and so long as it was completed by Monday at 9 am, it didn’t matter how long it took to run. That is when I first realized that for performance to really matter, it has to deliver business value.

For this prospect, that weekly report was parceled out to a team of representatives who spent their week working off aging information and wasting time visiting accounts where the status had changed. By taking advantage of the performance that Actian could deliver and switching to real-time access to their customer information, they were able to eliminate wasted customer visits and grow revenue by 12% in the first year after adopting Actian.

Fast forward to today, data sets are exponentially more extensive, and many industries are reliant on fast analytics performance to achieve improvements in business outcomes, remain competitive, and add value to their customers. Here are a few examples of how Actian’s continued performance gains help its clients improve their data analytics capabilities.

Performance Matters in Healthcare

Equian uses Actian for healthcare claims processing because it enables them to process claims much faster than any other technology they have evaluated. Equian is paid a fee for each claim they process, and the more claims they process, the more money they make. The fees they receive for processing claims are dependent on the age of the claim, so this is a prime example of an instance where Actian’s performance delivers directly to the bottom line. But it isn’t always so obvious.

Performance Matters for Insurance Providers

The UK’s largest motoring organization, The AA, uses Actian technology to quickly generate accurate car insurance quotes.  They provide quotes for comparative car insurance websites, and the faster they can return a quote, the more prominent position they get on the page of competitive quotes.  Generating the quote quickly is obviously important, but generating an accurate quote, enriched by myriad other data sources, is just as important to the insurance underwriters – they need to be sure that the quote accurately represents the insurable risk. For example, if the car that you’re requesting the quote for has been in a number of accidents, that needs to be factored into the quote, as does the driver’s driving record and the demographics of the neighborhood where the car will be parked; it’s only when all of this information has been factored in that the quote can be provided to the customer and typically the AA wants to complete the entire quoting process in a matter of a second or two.

Performance Matters in Financial Services

In the financial services world, time is money; shaving a millisecond off the time it takes to analyze data can mean millions made or lost. Refinitiv, now part of the London Stock Exchange, built their Eikon analytics platform on Actian technology, and they set an SLA of 20ms for completing analytics queries. Refinitiv’s analytics platform provides its customers with the data and analysis needed to make trading decisions faster than customers of their competitors. In the rapidly changing financial markets, time is money. As a result, people put tremendous value on a performance advantage.

Performance You Can Try for Yourself

The recently released GigaOm Cloud Data Warehouse benchmark report clearly demonstrates the Actian Data Platform, formerly Avalanche, performance superiority over the competition with a typical decision support workload comprised of a mix of complex queries, representative of the types of queries we encounter in every customer, no matter what industry they are in. While the results are compelling, there is nothing as compelling as seeing the performance that can be delivered with your data and your queries, and we’d be happy to engage in either a proof of value, or a free trial so that you can see that for yourself.

actian outperforms snowflake

Scalable to Meet Your Performance Demands

While many of our competitors charge a premium for the type of performance that Actian Data Platform delivers, we pride ourselves on the value our platform delivers.   Not only do we deliver the best value per query, but we also keep your costs low by enabling you to scale the compute environment to meet your ever-changing business needs. Additionally, we identify when the system has been inactive for a specified period and will shut it down to stop the meter from running. Gone are the days of purchasing systems to match your peak workload and hoping that your gut feeling regarding anticipated growth was accurate. You can grow and shrink your Actian Data Platform environment to meet the needs of the business.

actian more cost-effective than snowflake

I’m very proud of the technology that my team has built and of the results that the researchers at GigaOm were able to achieve when benchmarking Actian Data Platform relative to our competitors. I’d love to hear your stories of how performance translated into business value for you.

Emma McGrattan

About Emma McGrattan

As SVP of Engineering at Actian, Emma leads research and development for the Actian Vector, Actian Vector in Hadoop, Actian X and Ingres teams. A recognized authority in DBMS and Big Data technologies, Emma is a sought-after speaker at industry conferences. Emma has recently celebrated over 25 years in Ingres and Actian Engineering. Educated in Ireland, Emma holds a Bachelors of Electrical Engineering degree from Dublin City University.