Analytics Startup Heap Launches Autonomous Customer-Insight Platform

Heap automatically captures, validates and connects all types of customer data, giving companies in various sectors the ability to discover meaningful customer insights in order to drive better business decisions.


Marketing automation and analytics SaaS provider Heap on Dec. 12 set sail a new edition of its platform into a tank already full of highly competitive sharks in the customer insight analytics market.

The 4-year-old company, which has grown organically and already claims more than 6,000 customers, launched what it calls “the industry’s first platform to automate all phases of customer insights.”

It had better be good to compete with the likes of Marketo, Deloitte, McKinsey, Teradata, Accenture, Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and dozens of other companies that have large and loyal customer sets. If it is, rest assured that it will get a good look; eWEEK has been told time and time again by IT buyers that it doesn’t matter if they haven’t heard of the company before. If the technology works, and it solves a problem inside an IT system, it will be bought.

Heap Automatically Captures, Validates Data for Workloads

The new Heap platform automatically captures, validates and connects all types of customer data, giving companies in various sectors the ability to discover meaningful customer insights in order to drive better business decisions.

Data-driven organizations rely on insights to stay competitive, but they’re often swimming in bad data and tedious processes that get in the way of meaningful insights. Data teams spend the majority of their time manually cleaning, instrumenting and checking for errors instead of extracting relevant observations that inform important decisions. Heap helps eliminate this complexity, creating the first “insight automation” infrastructure for marketers and data professionals.

San Francisco-based Heap was founded in part by former Facebook employees, including CEO Matin Movassate, a former Facebook product manager, largely because Facebook’s own tools weren’t satisfactory. This was interesting for eWEEK to hear, because Facebook has become a treasure trove of excellent software tools that have been released to the open source community over the years.

“While I was at Facebook, we wanted to use data and analytics to drive decisions that we made. But it turned out that in reality most of my time wasn’t spent on getting insights or getting data science-driven insights to drive our decisions. Most of my time was spent in the manual tasks that existed under the surface,” Movassate told eWEEK.

Automates a Lot of Grunt Work

“In order to get interesting insights, you need to do a lot of grunt work around collecting, organizing that data, cleaning it, structuring it," said Shawn Hansen, Heap’s Chief Marketing Officer, another former Facebook manager. "This requires looping in developers and data scientists. What we’re trying to do with Heap is automate all that work away, remove those bottlenecks and empower everyone to be smarter with data.”

This can be likened to a well-known sector of the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s, Hansen said, when the sewing machine replaced much of the manual labor of apparel production.

"The introduction of the sewing machine dramatically drive up productivity," Hansen said. "I think the same thing's going to happen in data analytics. But the challenge is that most people don't have access to enough technical resources. We believe that's the next big frontier in productivity. We were founded from the beginning with the idea of codeless analytics."

Everyone strives to be data-driven, but it’s almost always an unfulfilled promise, Movassate said.

Overcomes Defects in Data Models

“As companies try to become agile and iterate quickly, they rapidly encounter what they call the so-called ‘Adobe Blackout,’ where any defect results in lost data that has to be reconciled, costing teams weeks or months. Heap virtualizes the underlying data structure, enabling companies to flexibly rewire analytics without losing any data integrity,” Movassate said.

This is yet another large potential market. Researcher MarketsandMarkets estimates that the customer analytics software sector will be worth $4.5 billion by 2019.

Heap’s autonomous customer insights platform has three key layers: data capture, control and insights. The data capture plane automatically captures all behavioral data from sources across departments and domain-specific tools into one standard schema; the control plane assures data integrity and ability to change event definitions on the fly; and the insights plane produces networked insights across marketing, sales, and customer success silos, Hansen said.

New additions to each layer in this release include:

  • Non-Destructive Data Modeling: Like modern music or photo editing, data professionals can rapidly define and model new insights without touching the raw data structure. This accelerates productivity by unlocking much faster iteration. Virtual event definitions enable the ability to retroactively update metrics on the fly wherever they are used.
  • Sources: Fifteen new data source connectors to further strengthen a seamless, connected network of customer insights—including Salesforce, Marketo, and leading email and payment providers. All history and events are available with one-click connectivity, and no custom coding required.
  • Data Integrity Score: A data scoring system that automatically ranks all customer data by level of usefulness and trustworthiness to empower companies to measure, define, and control how data is accessed across the business.
  • Dashboards: Data visualization reports across silos of departmental data that provide a bird’s-eye view of customers, breaking down team barriers and speeding up time to insight.

Heap has raised $40 million in funding to date, including a recent $27 million Series B led by New Enterprise Associates and Menlo Ventures.

Founded in 2013, Heap serves more than 6,000 companies in e-commerce, SaaS, fintech, retail, media and others, including Twilio, LendingClub, App Annie, Optimizely, Morningstar, Monotype and Casper. For more information, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...