Alation leverages acquired technology to add trusted data to spreadsheets

Alation Connected Sheets for Google is first out of the gate, with a similar product for Excel to follow shortly.

Today, enterprise data intelligence solutions provider Alation is announcing the launch of Alation Connected Sheets, which utilizes technology for integrating databases into their platform, and which comes from the company’s acquisition of earlier this year. Alation Connected Sheets’ no-code technology will greatly expand Alation’s audience among line of business users. It will also be followed shortly by a similar product for Microsoft Excel.

“We originally invented the modern data catalogue, and since then, we have evolved into a data software provider with an enterprise data intelligence platform,” said Raj Gossain, Chief Product Officer at Alation.

The acquisition, which closed in March, lets Alation extend their technology into spreadsheets for the first time. CEO and co-founder Krishna Bhat, and CTO and co-founder Sathish Raju have joined Alation.

“They were a five years old company which had about 20 customers, but were different from a pure tech and talent acquisition,” Gossain stated.  “What we saw with was an opportunity to bring data intelligence to business users in the spreadsheet. Despite all the investments in Big Data and Analytics, the spread sheet is usually the last mile because it’s flexible.”

Gossain said that the problem with spreadsheet analytics is that most C-levels look on them as a liability rather than an asset.

Raj Gossain, Chief Product Officer at Alation

“They don’t know where the data came or how it’s being used,” he said. “The opportunity that we saw was leveraging our data platform to access, in a no-code fashion, up to date data from trusted data sources like Snowflake. The large majority of organizations don’t have a good solution to this problem. They know they can’t turn off spreadsheets because of the value they provide to their business users. The value is greater than their risk. Now we are bringing the catalogue into the spreadsheet, and the spreadsheet gets added to the catalogue as well, and becomes a data asset.”

Gossain indicated that significant enhancements had been made to the technology to extend its capabilities.

“The product we are launching now is a reimagining of, which leverages our microservices architecture and our ability to search our catalogue in Sheets or Excel,” he said. “That’s something which is new to that technology. Before, they had to build their own set of connectors.”

Gossain said that the time was ripe for Alation to make this major expansion into both spreadsheets and the market for business users.

“Our growth has taken off,” he indicated. “In August, we passed $100 million in recurring revenue – a Centaur. Last month, we announced our Series E financing of $123 million. We saw this as an opportunity to continue to provide more services to our customer base. Before, we super-serviced data analysts. This provides an opportunity to be involved across the entire organization. It will make us relevant to 10-20 times more users than today.”

The process for business users is not entirely automated, but Gossain stressed that it is simple for them to use.

“It’s no code,” he said. “What we’ve been able to do here is provide a low code experience directly in the spreadsheet. Only people who can access data sources have permissions. There’s a teeny bit of work – but it’s orders of magnitude simpler for a business user than learning SQL.”

The decision made to do Google Sheets first, even though Microsoft Excel has a much larger audience, was dictated by time to market.

“Our team had pre-existing expertise in building Google Sheets add-ons,” Gossain said. “The Excel version will be a fast follow in early 2023.”