Retail

Data Enablers: Neo Technology Off The Charts

In a visual culture, collecting data isn’t enough: organizations need to see how it’s all connected.

That’s Neo Technology’s specialty. The company created Neo4j — an open-source graph database technology that has become the world’s leading graph database — in 2007, and the technology now serves over 200 clients including eBay, Walmart, IBM, and NASA.

Neo4j puts relationships at the forefront of its data model, charting points visually so that clients can better leverage their data to improve performance. It stores, processes, and queries connections faster than SQL-powered relational databases.

Neo4j is used in financial services and retail, government, telecommunications and more for mission-critical applications as diverse as real-time pricing, online product and service recommendations, fraud detection, enterprise search and the Internet of Things (IoT).

In 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists used it to comb through 2.6 terabytes of leaked data in the Panama Papers, further demonstrating the platform’s versatility.

Like many of the best ideas, Neo4j (which now employs 130 people) started as a sketch on a napkin. Emil Eifrem – CEO, co-founder, and graph guru and evangelist – first drew it out on an airplane napkin while flying to Mumbai in 2000.

So how did this idea go from two-ply to worldwide? PYMNTS caught up with Eifrem to find out.

PYMNTS: How does your business overlap with the payment processing or e-merchant world?

EE: Online retailers can capture a customer’s browsing behavior and combine that with their buying history and interactions to instantly analyze their current choices and provide real-time product recommendations.

Global financial institutions and e-merchants can power real-time fraud detection and analysis on interconnected datasets for finding difficult-to-detect fraud rings.

eCommerce companies can empower customers to receive highly relevant answers to more precise and intelligent questions when searching for products, services or other information.

PYMNTS: Can you give the history of the founding and launch of the company?

EE: Neo Technology was officially founded in 2007 by CEO Emil Eifrem and CTO Johan Svensson. As the company received continued investor traction and early customer adoption, Neo Technology moved its corporate headquarters to Silicon Valley in 2011 to better serve its growing base of users and customers in the United States.

Today, Neo Technology is the market leader in graph technology and enables over 200 organizations, one third of those enterprises, to unlock the business value of relationships in data: through new applications that can adapt to changing business needs, and by enabling existing applications to scale with the business.

PYMNTS: Why was the company founded? What was the grand idea that sparked it?

EE: The founders recognized how connected data was becoming increasingly critical for more and more companies and that graphs are often the best way to represent this connected data.

They also understood Neo4j’s potential given that there are thousands of use cases where graphs are the ideal way to represent data including recommendations, logistics, banking, IoT and identity management.

PYMNTS: Can you show me some data or proof points on how the company has helped retailers?

EE: Neo Technology is currently working with 4 out of the top 10 retailers to mine data relationships and offer their customers a superior experience.

eBay is using Neo4j to speed, streamline and improve its popular same-day delivery service to end-customers. Walmart is using Neo4j to make sense of online shoppers’ behavior in order to optimize and cross-sell major product lines in core markets.

With Neo4j, Marriott is able to publish pricing recommendations daily at the retail rate for 4,500 separate properties. The organization saw a 10-fold increase in publishing volumes of pricing recommendations, a 96 percent reduction in publishing times and a 50 percent reduction in server capacity and infrastructure costs.

PYMNTS: Looking back since founding, what has been the proudest moment for the organization?

EE: In November 2016, we secured $36 million in new funding, which validated the value of the graph market and Neo Technology’s place as the market leader.

PYMNTS: What’s the company culture like?

EE: I having this saying that ‘I want to build an American company with a Swedish soul.’ It’s a bit tongue in cheek but with ‘American company’ I mean things like setting aggressive and ambitious goals, and then measure yourself towards them. And with ‘a Swedish soul’ I mean a company culture where it’s not only OK but encouraged to challenge your colleagues and leaders and contribute to the direction of the company.

PYMNTS: To what do you attribute your success over the years?

Our success in founded in our belief that “Connections in data are as important as the data itself.” We attribute our success to the single-minded focus on helping organizations leverage connections in data.

PYMNTS: What has been the biggest hurdle? How did the company overcome?

EE: We are very proud of what our team has accomplished in creating a brand new database category, a successful product business and all with an efficient use of capital. When we set out, we faced a challenging, if not impossible, task: create a database category from scratch.

Despite the large number of players in the NoSQL space, we have been very successful in creating the graph database category, which is now far and away the fastest growing category of database over the last three years according to industry monitor DB-Engines and continues to be fastest growing category in all of data.

With only $45 million in total capital, that journey toward efficient monetization has been difficult but extremely rewarding. Today we have built a tremendous momentum for Neo4j and have hit an adoption milestone of over 3 million downloads with an explosion in both depth and diversity of use cases across a growing number of verticals.

On the commercial side, our team has brought in over 200 customers with one third of those being large enterprises. And the graph ecosystem itself has significantly blossomed with over 100 Neo4j partners and five straight years of growth for the GraphConnect conference.

PYMNTS: What is next? What does the future look like?

EE: Graph technology is increasingly becoming an enterprise standard. Forrester has reported that over a quarter of enterprises will be using graph databases by 2017, while Gartner believes that over 70% of leading companies will be piloting a graph database by 2018.

Neo Technology plans to use the funds from its November 2016 Series D investment to stay ahead of the curve, continue to innovate on Neo4j and maintain its graph database leadership position.

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