​Inside AtlasPlato, Australia’s newest BI-focused start-up

Andrew Thomas returns to tap into a surge in big data analytics spending across Australia.
Andrew Thomas - Founder, AtlasPlato (Photo by Maria Stefina)

Andrew Thomas - Founder, AtlasPlato (Photo by Maria Stefina)

“The big vision is help customers solve the challenges they can’t solve by using data.”

Through identifying a gap in the market - one growing larger as the importance of information heightens - Andrew Thomas is building a start-up centred on the idea of business intelligence (BI).

With the sale of Thomas Duryea Consulting to Logicalis now confirmed, Thomas is attempting to tap into a surge in big data analytics spending across Australia, with budgets now rivalling CRM software.

In drawing upon his experience of founding a leading infrastructure consultancy firm, and selling storage-based solutions to more than 500 customers in Australia, one overriding question remained for Thomas.

What about all that data?

Launched to the market in February 2017, AtlasPlato is a consulting firm focused on developing data-driven organisations, partnering with customers from the public, private, and not for profit sectors.

“At Thomas Duryea, customers would ask us if they could delete their data, and would question why they were keeping it in the first place,” he explained.

“We would be asked to assess it, age it and archive it and we started to understand that once 90 days clicked past, most people wouldn't access their data which meant that their storage was always increasing.”

After observing numerous BI projects, projects that were labour intensive and complex for IT departments, Thomas came to the conclusion that traditional methods seldom achieved business success.

Consequently, the serial entrepreneur has turned to emerging intelligent technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, paving the way for new opportunities around creating data-driven enterprise.

“It’s about going in as high up the chain as possible, inside IT and simply asking what are the problems?” he said. “What are the biggest challenges facing your business right now?

Andrew Thomas - Founder, AtlasPlato (Photo by Maria Stefina)
Andrew Thomas - Founder, AtlasPlato (Photo by Maria Stefina)

“It’s not about going in and saying is BI a top priority on your list? But inevitably, information plays a huge part in whether you can solve those problems.”

Increased appetite

Banking on increasing appetite for BI services and solutions, Thomas is operating in a market set for further big data analytics spending.

As reported by ARN, Australian enterprises are boosting big data analytics capability by investing more in tools and services, in a bid to bolster business processes and create new products and services.

According Telsyte findings, local demand for high volume data processing and real-time intelligence is growing strongly as organisations struggle to keep up with an explosion of data.

Specifically, budgets are increasing with 83 per cent of Australian CIOs planning to invest more on big data in 2017, including hardware, software and services.

Within this market, around a third of CIOs are looking to use big data analytics for sales and marketing applications, making it in the top three of line of business use cases, as specialised vertical plays also rise in prominence.

“If you think about solving the world's biggest problems, we aim to build intellectual property around verticals over time,” Thomas added.

“We’re coming in early and we will start to sell disruptive products and provide services around them. For example, as we sell solutions into insurance, we learn more about the vertical and begin to create an advantage in that space. Then we can do the same in healthcare, and finance and so on.”

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To achieve this specialised offering, Thomas is seeking a blend of technical and sales capabilities, as he builds a team of data experts from scratch.

“We’re bringing on board coders in the first instance,” he added.

Through bolstering his technical team, Thomas recently recruited Oriel CTO, Richard Mitton, with the industry veteran swapping telecommunications for the start-up scene.

Mitton has taken up the lead technology role at the emerging business, and is tasked with building out the start-up technology portfolio in the year ahead.

“We’re also creating a sales front for the business but we will have a real range of expertise,” he added. “There will be real code-heavy, tech guys that are very strong around the latest coding technologies, statistics, maths and databases.”

Looking ahead, Thomas is targeting those will strong skills in combining algorithms and technology, with plans in place to hire “10 to 12 employees” during the next ten months.

“That will provide critical mass and then hopefully we can really take-off,” he added.

Smart technologies

Inspired by the future potential of smart technologies in the workplace, Thomas’ strategy aligns with that of key vendors such as Microsoft and IBM, vendors that have made intelligence a key priority for the future.

“Microsoft has said that this is where the market is heading, and IBM are aiming to win through Watson,” he added. “The market is moving towards analytics and machine learning.

“Businesses can deploy Watson into an IT sales domain, putting in information about vendors, resellers, media data, customers and staff.

Andrew Thomas - Founder, AtlasPlato (Photo by Maria Stefina)
Andrew Thomas - Founder, AtlasPlato (Photo by Maria Stefina)

"They could then turn it around as a system for every sales and pre-sales employee to utilise in a sales-focused organisation.

“The result is a much more informed workforce. You could even have a natural language assistant beside you and you could ask - I’m on my way to a meeting, how many desktops does this business have?

"What version are they running on? What did we last sell them? Who were the last three members from our business who touched the customer?”

For Thomas, this shows that merely collecting and processing data is half the story.

Rather, an opportunity exists for Australian leaders to use real-time analytics to gain business value from data, transforming decision making from reactive to proactive as a result.

From a vendor perspective, AtlasPlato is currently in conversations with Splunk, Domo and Pivotal around striking new partnerships in the market, with further discussions at play with organisations yet to hit Australia.

“There are a couple of start-ups that we are in early stage discussions with that haven’t got a sales team, but they have been working for several years on a clever piece of software that allows you to look through disparate sets of data,” he added.

“We will essentially be the sales front for these companies into Australia and will stitch it together with a couple of other things such as our consultative services. It’s not going to be out of the box stuff.”

Through leveraging his extensive relationships within the channel ecosystem, Thomas’ aim in the market is simple, to “undercut” typical conversations.

“We talk about disruptive vendors and we’re not expecting to be sitting on the edge of these organisations - we’re going straight in and having longer-term strategic conversations,” he added.

“We’re keen to invest - we’re not bootstrapping here and hoping it works. This year we will build the foundations to achieve $50 million revenue by year five with a corresponding $100 million valuation.”