FAST 50

Focus brings success to Data Intelligence, this year's Fast 50 leader

As the No. 1 company on the 2020 Washington Technology Fast 50, Data Intelligence Technologies has seen meteoric expansion in the last five years at a compound annual growth rate of 310.3 percent.

Founded in 2010, the company has achieved this growth by knowing what it is good at and building from that base. That focus is easy to spot given the name of the company – Data Intelligence.

“We did a lot of software develop working on [analytics] projects and tools,” said founder James Kraemer. “We worked on an analytical platform for big data analytics and then pivoted to being more of a services company.”

The company also has focused on supporting the Defense Department and intelligence agencies.

Data Intelligence is still a small business with $8.5 million in 2019 revenue. But the company has a portfolio of capabilities around data science, data visualization, data security, and data engineering. That’s what Kraemer calls the right side of the equation. Then there is the left side -- the sources of the data such as radio frequency signal intelligence, open source, cyber intelligence and geospatial.

The mission of Data Intelligence is to take both sides and move the data between them, from the edge to the analyst and back to the warfighter.

“That’s been our expertise – big data and bringing it straight to the mission,” Kraemer said. “And all the engineering in between.”

Kraemer often uses water and plumbing analogies when he talks about the kind of work Data Intelligence does because it is about the flow of information. But moving that information around, from the edge to the data lake to the analyst and back takes people with real expertise.

“Finding data scientists is really, really hard,” Kraemer said. “They are the unicorn of the industry.”

To supplement the data scientist it has on staff, Data Intelligence has been building intuitive interfaces and increasingly uses artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“The home run for us is using innovation to take that data from the data lake and put it on the glass for the warfighter/analyst/targeter,” he said.

The idea is to let data users, who are not data scientists, analyze and use the information.

“It’s about putting that data on the glass so someone without a data science degree can make sense of the data at scale,” Kraemer said. “I don’t know how we can be successful if we don’t do it that way.”

The “we” in “how we can be successful” is the broader DOD and intelligence environment, not just Data Intelligence.

“The data is growing and being able to make sense of it at scale is the need our customers have. That’s what we continually hear from them,” he said.

Because of their customers are in the defense and intelligence world, Kraemer was reluctant to talk about specific programs or projects but he did share a demo that the company developed to showcase its capabilities. It involves taking satellite and geospatial data of ships in the Northwest Passage and layering it with a variety of other information such as the tracks ships are on, type of ships, speed and cargo.

The interface can identify patterns and easily identify vessels that are operating differently from other ships, for example. The same approach can be applied to automobiles or aircraft. The demo is based on open source information, Kraemer said.

“Projects where we’re making sense of data at scale is really where we specialize,” Kraemer said. .

Moving forward, Kraemer said he wants the company to grow smartly. It has created subsidiaries to pursue specialized areas such as Blur Search which created the big data search engine that powered the shipping demo.

The company also has created Cyber Data Intelligence to provide consulting, training and other services related to the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification process by developing tools to help accreditors evaluate companies.

Some 300,000 companies will need to be CMMC certified and there will only be so many accreditors.

“The math isn’t pretty, so you need innovation to help the accreditors get more work done with less time,” Kraemer said. “I’m trying to help the DOD meet the requirement that’s ahead of them for cybersecurity and data projection and protecting the global supply chain for this country.”

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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