The Oxford University-backed company specialises in big data visualisation, using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques that change the way businesses and organisations search, find and discover new insights. With its software some 60,000 documents can be displayed in a single view and users can then apply tools so mining vast and complex volumes of information from multiple sources becomes faster and easier. Crucially results become more understandable for everyone, aiding decision-making all along the line.
Capturing so-called unstructured information, the majority type that’s composed of data, images, sound, documents, social media and video as well as traditional sources like spreadsheets, Zegami was constructed in an all-purpose way.
As a consequence a broad spread of users now can process their own big pictures and reveals.
“They can use our technology to understand patterns and trends without the need for them to know how to write code or database queries,” explains co-founder and chief technical officer Roger Noble.
“Our simplicity democratises data, stops users feeling overwhelmed and ultimately allows them to make better, fact-based decisions. For some productivity gains may be two hours a day.”
While too there are a lot of data visualisation companies in what is today a £50 billion global industry, Zegami stands out for its unique tools, he says, citing the in-memory database (the easy pattern spotting element), geospatial filtering that quickly circles locations and machine-learned clustering
The spinout was founded in 2016 by UK-based Australians Noble and chief executive Samuel Conway after a successful collaboration between the university’s Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine and the Coritsu Group consultancy in Adelaide.
Expanding from a desktop app to a fully fledged cloud-based product that customers sign up and use directly, the £4 million of funding needed so far has come from investors including Oxford Sciences Innovation, Parkwalk Advisors and RT Ventures.
The company now employs 15 and after growing 75 percent year on year is forecasting a £3.3m turnover in 2021.
Using a licensing model as well as supplying consultancy and data analytics services, Zegami’s relationship with US intranet platform LiveTiles and being accepted on to the Microsoft for Startups programme, where it is developing a new cloud infrastructure, are designed to drive commercial growth.
“They give us credibility, very important to a company that had to build its contacts from scratch,” adds Noble who with Conway has found Oxford’s knowledge networks fundamental to Zegami’s progress.
Its algorithms help human resources departments see more clearly the composition of their workforces. For medical teams it could be an image, say of a lesion, that once a search has been run with machine learning many similar ones and treatment options come to the fore.
In the US its tech is helping professional US baseball team the Pittsburgh Pirates to sift through player statistics during the annual amateur draft, a key time when 30 teams select 1,200 athletes and search for special talent with game-changing promise.
For Pirates’ data architect Joshua Smith “Zegami provides an incredibly powerful interface which allows us to search quickly, compare, group, and interrogate player stats xin a way that was just not possible with Excel or other BI solutions.”
Communicating the results of the analysis made by the informatics team to decision-makers in the front office is a critical part of the process and by deploying Zegami, say the Pirates, they can present the results so it makes it easy for the front office team to get key pieces of information to make timely decisions.
Opportunities for more creative collaborations with smaller, social good enterprises are also taking shape, where instead of licensing these benefit from Zegami’s technology and it is able to use the partnership for marketing and to boost its reputation for social responsibility.
One such is its data visualisation work helping the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. This involves unlocking all the information the centre has gathered as part of its conservation effort to monitor Great White Shark populations in the north eastern Pacific and any impact changing sea temperatures might have on their behaviour.
Great Whites are distinguished by their dorsal fins with each shark’s one having a series of notches and ridges as individual as a fingerprint making it possible to track and, with Zegami, catalogue them.
This is now imperative as relentless hunting of the sharks merely for their fins (with the rest of the fish just discarded) to make luxury seafood soups has decimated numbers.
“We have been able to work across a huge collection of images to make a powerful tool which we hope will contribute to preserving these threatened creatures,” says Noble.
“Zegami has a lot of potential for inspiring projects such as this.”