Many companies face data challenges. In a 2019 survey, Deloitte reported that 67% of executives are not comfortable accessing or using data in their organizations. In a separate poll from NewVantage Partners, meanwhile, less than a third of companies identify themselves as data-driven – despite significant investment in AI and business analytics tools.
According to Michael Amori, the problem is always in the tooling. He’s the co-founder of Virtualitics, a startup that develops software to help companies visualize — and gain insights, with any luck — from their data.
“Typical dashboard tools fall short of revealing the hidden insights buried in today’s intricate data,” Amori told me in an email interview. “And when bias, privacy and ethics become more important, there is a strong understanding of data, outliers and patterns that companies can create an environment of responsible use.”
Virtualitics, launched in 2016, was born out of Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. A few years ago, Amori was introduced to George Djorgovski, a professor of astronomy and data science at Caltech, and Ciro Donalek, a computational staff scientist at Caltech’s Center for Data-Driven Discovery, which Djorgovski led in time.
“Donalek’s expertise in AI, especially in helping Caltech astronomers with big data analysis, and his work in creating collaborative virtual spaces come together,” Amori said. “Virtualitics was born from this, focusing on three-dimensional visualizations to elevate data analysis beyond traditional methods.”
At a high level, Virtualitics uses 3D visualizations, knowledge graphs and AI to reveal relationships between different data points. Given a data set (or several), optionally with a question in plain English (eg “What drives credit card skimming?”), the platform generates annotations and explanations, which can be embedded in reports and dashboards and shared with stakeholders across the organization.
A customer in the financial industry could, for example, use Virtualitics to detect payment patterns and wire fraud. Or a marketing company can use the platform to identify emerging customer segments and the marketing channels that are likely to perform best.
But many business intelligence tools look at data. Check out Bayes, acquired by Airtable in 2021, and London-based, Canva-owned Flourish.
So what makes Virtualitics different? Well, its data visualizations can be seen in VR and AR, for one. But Amori argues that the platform is easierto use and more powerful than most solutions on the market – and, perhaps most important of all, does not require deep technical expertise.
“Traditional data mining tools have limited capabilities to identify and visualize the complexity of today’s data,” he said. “Also, traditional analytic techniques and dashboards lack in providing visually intuitive outputs, making it difficult to truly understand what the results mean or predict what lies ahead. All this coupled with it’s the fact that people approach a data set with a bias, a preconceived idea of what will happen to the data and then they analyze the data to see if their hypothesis is correct.”
The jury is out on everything. But it’s true that companies often struggle to drive internal use of any business intelligence software they invest in.
In a 2020 business intelligence survey from 360Suite, companies said the main challenges they face are managing user adoption and data quality control. Cost control and security are cited as other major blockers in achieving data analytics goals.
“While Virtualitics sometimes finds itself categorized alongside business intelligence tools, our approach is very different,” Amori said. “Traditional business intelligence tools are built to ‘report the news,’ with the goal of making data readily available through simple dashboard reports.”
In a testament to Virtualitics’ success – or at least the strength of its marketing efforts – the company’s year-over-year revenue rose 370%. Amori credits Virtualitics’ recently acquired government sector customers, which include the Department of Defense, with the growth.
“Virtualics has been working with the defense and national security community since 2017 on projects ranging from operational readiness, investment analysis and mission support and intelligence analysis, among others,” said Amori, noting that Virtualitics recently appointed a retired US Army General, John Murray, and former US Navy Vice Admiral, Timothy White, to its advisory board.
Gearing up for its next phase of expansion, Virtualitics announced today that it has raised $37 million in a Series C funding round led by Smith Point Capital with participation from Citi and advisory clients The Hillman Company . Bringing the startup’s total raise to $67 million, Amori says the new cash will be put toward collaborations, customer success efforts and expanding Virtualitics’ headcount (which currently stands at 76 people).
“The motivation behind raising a Series C funding round is driven by two key factors,” Amori said. “First, our company has a strong track record of successfully partnering with the Department of Defense on mission-critical programs, and this aspect of our business continues to experience significant growth and expansion. However, knowing We also recognize the growing need for AI-driven analytics within the business sector, as data volume and complexity continue to grow. With the new funding, we can accelerate our roadmap , integrating more AI and particularly generative AI technologies into our platform, and further scaling our business to meet the evolving needs of our customers and markets.