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Differentiation key for independent Pyramid Analytics

A strong set of augmented intelligence capabilities and an end-to-end platform are enabling the vendor to grow despite not having the backing of a large parent company.

While many vendors work toward developing an end-to-end business intelligence platform, Pyramid Analytics already has one.

And it's that end-to-end platform -- one that enables users to go from data preparation through discovery, modeling and deployment -- that helps the independent vendor differentiate itself from its many larger, more well-financed peers.

Pyramid, founded in 2009 and based in Amsterdam, is an analytics vendor with a platform specializing in what it calls decision intelligence. In addition to its home base, it has offices in London; New York City; Seattle; Boise, Idaho; and Tel Aviv, Israel.

Pyramid, however, is small compared to many of its competitors.

The independent, privately held vendor has raised about $75 million in funding, considerably less than that raised by other independent, privately held analytics vendors such as ThoughtSpot ($663.7 million) and Sisense ($274 million).

Other independent vendors such as Domo and MicroStrategy are publicly held and have access to capital through the stock market, while wholly owned vendors such as Tableau, Looker and Tibco have access to funds -- and an array of customers -- through their parent companies.

Technological differentiation, therefore, is key for Pyramid as it competes for customers.

"On the technology side, we're very differentiated," said Omri Kohl, co-founder and CEO of Pyramid.

Key differentiators are Pyramid's focus on decision intelligence and the symbiosis of the tools in its platform, according to Kohl.

A sample Pyramid Analytics dashboard
A sample Pyramid Analytics dashboard displays an organization's sales information.

Differentiation

Pyramid describes its end-to-end capabilities as comprising a decision intelligence platform rather than a business intelligence platform.

Business intelligence is the process of collecting and analyzing data to make informed decisions. Decision intelligence adds augmented intelligence capabilities to BI, and delivers data and insights to users where and when they need it throughout their workflows rather than requiring end users to do their analysis in a BI tool while doing their other work in different applications.

It's a holistic approach to BI, enabling data scientists and business users alike with those AI capabilities throughout the analytics cycle from data preparation through action, according to Kohl.

"We believe Pyramid is a rich canvas for analytics," he said. "Think of us like an Adobe suite for data-driven projects."

Other vendors, however, also offer decision intelligence capabilities, from well-established companies like Qlik, with its emphasis on what it terms active intelligence, to startups like Sisu, with its focus on automatically explaining why things are happening and then prescribing what to do next.

Quality and completeness, therefore, are keys to differentiation. And Pyramid offers both strong augmented analytics capabilities and a complete array of traditional analytics capabilities, according to analysts.

They have an impressive platform that is heavily rooted in intelligence with a surprisingly robust and comprehensive set of augmented capabilities. Augmented is the hottest area right now in the BI space [and] Pyramid is positioned well.
Mike LeoneAnalyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

"They have an impressive platform that is heavily rooted in intelligence with a surprisingly robust and comprehensive set of augmented capabilities," said Mike Leone, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "Augmented is the hottest area right now in the BI space [and] Pyramid is positioned well.

"And while many vendors in the space are looking to complete their end-to-end offerings, Pyramid has one," he continued.

Likewise, Donald Farmer, founder and principal of TreeHive Strategy, noted that Pyramid's AI tools and completeness of capabilities are among its strengths.

"They have a comprehensive offering of major BI features and a very good subset of advanced features, including guided analytics and natural language," he said. "They are differentiated by the broad scope of their offering built up over the years, and by the fact that the platform has proven to be quite resilient and reliable, unlike some other leading products."

Beyond decision intelligence, the platform nature of Pyramid's capabilities helps set it apart from some other vendors, according to Kohl.

Rather than acquire a cadre of capabilities piecemeal and attempt to integrate them, Pyramid has developed its to work together from the start -- the symbiosis. In addition, when a customer deploys Pyramid, it gets the entire platform in one environment rather than buying some capabilities and piecing the system together on its own.

"We're a platform," Kohl said. "It's the buy-versus-build philosophy. Other vendors have great tools, and you can build an amazing solution, but they're dependent on heavy internal development [by customers], so it's a project. It takes time, money and effort."

Enhanced capabilities

In November 2021, Pyramid unveiled its most recent platform update.

Rather than containing a host of new capabilities, however, it was focused more on enhancing Pyramid's existing features in order to enable organizations to scale their analytics.

According to Kohl, a typical barrier that prevents organizations from scaling their analytics to more users is the diversity of skills among potential business analysts, with many not having backgrounds in computer science and statistics. Also, organizations often face difficulty connecting to the data where it resides rather than pulling it from a data warehouse into a BI tool. Another challenge is the need to know code to build data assets.

Pyramid, therefore, is one of many vendors that has focused on self-service analytics by aiming to lower those hurdles, and its most recent update included:

  • new data governance capabilities designed to enable more self-service users throughout organizations to work with data safely and securely;
  • real-time query responses aimed at increasing the productivity of remote workers by enabling them to engage with data without having to consult with a data team; and
  • enhanced natural language capabilities to support users' data exploration and help them dig deeper into data to reach better insights.

"What we're trying to invest in heavily is the depth of analytics," Kohl said. "We're trying to make the sophisticated simple. It's the idea that with no-code you can still do a very deep dive into whatever you want to do."

That emphasis on scaling across the enterprise to appeal to more self-service users is important, and the November update demonstrates that Pyramid is prioritizing the proper capabilities for a broad array of users, according to the analysts.

"They are focused on the right things," Farmer said. "There are no big breakthroughs here, but the incremental steps are always very solidly built and reliable."

In particular, he noted that the real-time query responses powered by Pyramid's PYRANA query and analytics engine will be beneficial.

"It supports the widely used [Multidimensional Expressions] standard, but also their own Pyramid Query Language, which enables high-performance queries against numerous data platforms," Farmer said. "It is particularly powerful in that its libraries support the generation of infographics and natural language without the need for third-part extensions."

Leone also highlighted the importance of the query enhancements, while also noting the value of added data governance guidelines.

"Pyramid's recent focus areas of governed self-service and real-time query response make it very clear democratizing data and analytics for all end users is a top priority," he said.

Fiercely independent

Despite its comparatively small size, Pyramid has no intention of giving up its independence, according to Kohl.

While consolidation continues among analytics vendors as formerly independent vendors opt for the benefits of pairing with a larger parent company, Kohl said the advantages of independence outweigh the access to capital and customers that comes with getting acquired.

In particular, the potential loss of identity is a determining factor for Pyramid.

Fifteen years ago, several former big analytics vendors such as Business Objects, Cognos and Hyperion were all acquired, and since then they have essentially disappeared. While Tableau and Looker, both acquired in 2019, and more recently Logi Analytics and Yellowfin, all retain a measure of autonomy under their parent companies, what will happen to them over time remains to be seen.  

"It's a fantastic move for companies that want to become part of a bigger organization," Kohl said. "They gain access to customers and strategic avenues, but … their ability to focus, from a roadmap perspective, on what the market demands in regard to analytics is limited because they have a parent company that dictates what they can do."

And that creates uncertainty for existing customers, he continued.

While the influx of capital and access to customers is beneficial for the acquired company, because it's no longer fully in control of its future, customers can fear it will evolve into something different from the company they chose for their analytics needs.

"Our decision to remain independent gives us freedom to work with any data asset in the industry," Kohl said..

Meanwhile, despite some inherent disadvantages, Pyramid is growing quickly, according to Kohl.

He said the vendor now has about 3,000 customers and is growing its installed base by 80% to 85% year-over-year. Likewise, revenue has been doubling year-over-year for the past three years, Kohl said.

From a geographic perspective, Pyramid is targeting customers in the United States, Europe and the Americas. Industries it targets include financial services, insurance, banking, retail, manufacturing and automotive.

"Though conceptually we're generalists, we're still adding lots of capabilities to serve those market segments," Kohl said.

Despite its success as an independent, Farmer speculated that Pyramid will eventually get acquired. Much like Yellowfin, a vendor founded in 2003 that developed a respected platform but after nearly two decades of independence sold itself to B2B software specialist Idera, Pyramid may eventually succumb to the lure of a larger organization.

"It seems likely that acquisition is in their future," Farmer said. "The independent vendors live in a world where every major vendor is already present in the enterprise, so they must live as part of a portfolio of solutions in a large enterprise or try to convince a smaller enterprise to focus on them. To do so, they need some standout differentiation."

Pyramid has some standout differentiation, but it's with capabilities many larger vendors also possess, Farmer continued.

"When your differentiation is being solid, reliable and well-featured, that does not grab the attention in the same way," he said

Roadmap

Following its November platform update, Pyramid plans to continue investing in its analytics capabilities.

Three areas of focus will be automation, machine learning and data science workbenches that enable data workers to better coordinate and manage their workflows.

All are aimed at making capabilities once reserved for trained data scientists available to business analysts who don't have backgrounds in computer science and statistics.

"Because there's a lack of data scientists, the only way to bridge the gap is through technology," Kohl said. "You don't need to be a PhD in statistics to operate the platform. You can actually be … a citizen data scientist and do the job."

Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.

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