Course no: JTBU-020003
Course name: Big Data: Big Boon and Big Brother!?
Project: Palantir Gotham
Palantir Technologies was founded in 2004, for a simple reason, diversity. The founders of the company saw a need for a different technology, a technology that in combination with good data can be a handful for people and institution to solve hard problems and change the world for the better. Palantir Technologies is a company that has two main products: Palantir Gotham and Palantir Metropolis. As our main subject is going to be Palantir Gotham founded in 2007. Palantir Gotham is what relates humanity with large scale data. It is A platform that allows for cross-organization collaboration and presents data in semantic, geospatial and temporal views. Palantir Gotham is used by counter-terrorism analysts, fraud investigators and cyber analysts.
Is all about Big Data…
“With good data and the right technology, people and institutions today can still solve hard problems and change the world for the better.” – this is one of the Palantir Technologies beliefs and it is one of the reasons why Palantir Technologies is our choice. Palantir Technologies is a software and services company that uses big data for the one purpose, to connect dots, by bringing the data to life and making them understandable for human eye.
What Palantir Gotham does is:
One of the biggest projects of Palantir Gotham is Disaster Preparedness and Crisis Response. Palantir Gotham organizes themselves and the community to make things easier in the face of unexpected and more responsive when disaster arrives. Their products can integrate massive volumes of data to support crisis response operations on a moment’s notice. Taking into account every consequence of a disaster they have made sure to:
- Operate in disconnected environments
- Palantir Mimosa
- Palantir Mobile
- Palantir Forward
- Coordinate response efforts
- Palantir Artemis
- Nexus Peering
- Deliver resources where they’re needed most
- Palantir Raven
- Palantir Executive
The first strength I would like to highlight is how Palantir flexibly and coherently represent data for the use of their clients and partners. They take data as it is whilst it is in its raw state and they make is easily usable by the owners of the data. This becomes quite useful in cases where the data needs to be traced back to its sources if the need to do so is apparent.
The second strength of Palantir is how they make their technology an extended part of their clients’ business. They revolutionize how people run their businesses by allowing them to get an interactive birds eye view at the data that is important to them and this allows the clients to make better decisions in important matters. For example, if there is infected meat being sold on the market, Palantir would combine data from shipping manifests, customer lists, credit cards and the hospital into one data model that would aid in seeing exactly how the infection can be stopped. This data would then be used by a user who is active in the health moderation field so as to help them do their job better and have a stronger, faster impact.
Lastly another strength that Palantir possesses that they have a very humanly interactive way of accessing data in the system. After different data sources have been combined into an effective data model, they go a step further to provide easier selection of the different parts of data that you want to analyze. After doing your data analysis, they then give an effective way to store that queried data whilst at the same time respecting the privacy of their customers, citizens and users of the data.
Poor product marketing is the biggest weakness of Palantir. Palantir products are not affordable to most companies and they are mostly used by big companies and governments. And by Palantir knowing its range of clients they do not put much effort in marketing because those who need their products will eventually come to them and ask for the products. This affects the business because everyone thinks Palantir is prideful big data company.
The second weakness of Palantir is they reject working with some companies. Palantir vets its clients as tightly as they vet Palantir. The data challenge that a company’s case presents must be compelling, and the information that will be analyzed must be made freely and totally available to Palantir’s researchers, no strings attached. Those standards apply to humanitarian projects too: One key to Palantir’s new Syria initiative, for example, is a huge database assembled by enterprising researchers at the nonprofit Carter Center (for more, read “Palantir Turns Its Software Toward Syria”). The client’s and Palantir’s ideologies must align too, which sometimes means walking away from big contracts. When a tobacco company wanted to use Palantir tools, Palantir turned down the partnership, Karp says, for fear the company would harness the data to pinpoint vulnerable communities to sell cigarettes to.
Lastly Palantir database are accessible making them vulnerable in the sense that they can be used in the by other parties for the destruction of a company. As all big databases especially one that is involved with security Palantir information are a target for terrorists and can be used against a company for various reasons even causing National security problems.
Palantir is a company that has potential in expanding. With all the threads and weaknesses such as a low marketing rate, there are some opportunities that should overcome the above mentioned.
A few of them would be :
Need for companies to have integrated data. Palantir products have the ability to bring together data from different sources and are able to create a relationship between those data which is normal sense not easily spotted by human eyes.
Fun fact: Palantir’s tools helped discover that when Hershey’s chocolate is placed next to marshmallows, sales go up.
Another fact: Zurich Insurance has worked with Palantir to develop data-mining software to help it price policies more accurately—an arena where tiny changes in risk assessment can create a big competitive edge.
Growing number of hackers trying to access companies’ databases. This makes it easy for Palantir to be able to introduce its products and services to companies.
The need for having a well linked and analyzed database for companies. This can be attributed to its application “Revisioning Database”. It powers the platform’s access control, auditing, knowledge management, and collaboration capabilities. All data in RevDB is can be traced back to their sources and be dated.
Growing crime rate. Palantir provides services that are used by FBI and CIA that can trace remote detonators and this can be used to assure security.
Fact: In 2015, TurboTax maker Intuit INTU used Palantir’s tech to investigate efforts by identity thieves to fraudulently file for tax refunds.
Fact or not a fact: For years, tech and security insiders have theorized that Palantir’s analytics helped the government pick up bin Laden’s scent. It’s a link Palantir has never confirmed or denied.
Provides a user friendly platform for companies. Users can drag and drop data objects from one application to the next for a frictionless, multi-faceted analytic experience.
First of the threats is that the products and services are expensive. Palantir has lost clients like Coca-Cola, American Express and Nasqad. The reasons are not always fully clear. However, we know that one of the main factor is the high prices for their services. This is also directly connected to the fact that Palantir nowadays is not the only company working at this services. So here we jump in a second threat:
Competition. How long with the likes of Oracle, SAP and IBM stand by and allow Palantir to corner this portion of the big data market? Aside from their $20 Billion valuation, which would be an extraordinary price to pay, I would think that this is an extremely ripe acquisition target.
Maintaining their secrecy: Their secrecy is key to maintaining success. Any major data breech would threaten the security of its clients and the credibility of the company. As mentioned before one of the company weaknesses is poor product marketing and this is exactly for the simple reason of maintaining their secrecy. So, Palantir has to keep a balance between those two, otherwise it will lose clients or it will end up not getting clients from their low marketing.
The first challenge I would like to point out is the constantly changing environment where the platform can be applied. For example, in the anti fraud section the platform targets money laundering and credit card fraud. The criminal groups conducting these activities constantly monitor all anti-fraud practices and change their strategies accordingly in order to overcome the defense measures. The platform must be ready to react and also to adapt accordingly, so that the data can be protected.
The second challenge is the protection of the data against cyber crime. Usually criminal groups are attacking the net to gain access to credit card numbers, personal data etc., so they can have financial benefits from it. But lately we have also seen that governmental structure (Russia) and terrorist organizations like ISIS are trying to hack the net in order to obtain political or military advantages. Potentially, these attacks can be much more successful if they are not conducted by single persons, but if whole governments are backing them up. For example, there were serious doubts that Russia tried to influence the presidential election in the USA by hacker attacks. The platform is used by governmental and security agencies across USA, so the company must constantly invent new and non-traditional ways to protect the data from cyber attacks.
The third challenge might be the access to skilled personnel. The IT sector is currently expanding so rapidly that the educational institutions cannot cope with the demand for new skilled specialists. The “theft” of human recourses between companies has reached epidemic levels. The challenge to keep the staff and to find new ones when necessary is crucial if the company wants to stay competitive on the market.
Note: For all of you who haven’t heard about Palantir Technologies, a video about Palantir 101 would come in hand. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6OebM0dQ8g
Group members Instructor of the course
Juna Kreka Prof. Dr. Adalbert F.X. Wilhelm