How the unicorn got its horn: a tale of market opportunity and technical innovation

How the Unicorn Got Its Horn: a Tale of Market Opportunity and Technical Innovation

Insight Partners is a leader in working with scale-up companies that have existing product/market fit and can use our help establishing best practices for their businesses. But my specific focus is in developer-driven companies. I look for the best technical teams that are building products that developers love and adore. Not only did we find this aspect in BigPanda, BigPanda exemplifies a rare combination of familiarity and progressiveness that puts it in an exceptional category—especially from an investor’s point of view.

The BigPanda AIOps platform is familiar in that it has the executive dashboarding, triage capabilities, and all the things that IT Ops leaders want to see in a traditional NOC. Yet, it’s extremely progressive in its AI capabilities. Add its developer-friendly nature with its explainability, and you have a truly unique product. BigPanda’s AIOps does an incredible job of empowering IT Ops experts with information to make their jobs easier and put things on autopilot for them without making them feel like they’re being replaced.

This combination is a real mastery of product development that we, as investors, talk about but never see. (Like a unicorn!) But what takes BigPanda’s potential even further are the market opportunities for AIOps.

Market Opportunity #1: The Talent Gap

All companies are dealing with a talent gap right now, but IT Ops is particularly feeling the burn. Digital transformation, COVID-19, the acceleration to the cloud, and the explosion of complexity in IT systems all drive an increase in the demand for talent. What we need to see is better training and education opportunities, and this is where technology can come into play. We will start to see a big trend with technology assisting onboarding and training of IT Ops professionals. And BigPanda offers this exact benefit.

BigPanda takes tribal knowledge—which can be anything from what the infrastructure looks like to key KPIs to SLOs used to track performance of applications—and digitizes it so everyone in the company has access to it. It democratizes information that would otherwise be siloed in certain departments or stuck with people who have been at the company for years. The platform does the equivalent of providing a new employee a tour of the office, but instead of showing you how to find the bathrooms and log into your email, it gives you access to the topology of your infrastructure.

By abstracting all the complexity of the IT environment—including consolidating tool sprawl and normalizing all the data—the BigPanda platform fills in the talent gap with automation.

Market Opportunity #2: AIOps as the Salve for IT Ops

On top of the skills gap creating problems, IT Ops professionals are experiencing a 20,000% increase in pressure on their daily lives. That might sound like a dramatic number, but consider the trajectory of what IT Ops has experienced over the last few years. The onset of cloud technologies and remote work created the need to build digital products to stay connected to customers or risk falling behind. Companies also found themselves needing to onboard modern tools such as containers and Kubernetes to attract talented developers who expect such tools. Digital transformation and these advanced technologies bring a number of new complexities to the IT environment. Multiply those new complexities by a greater number of projects, the number of business units, and all of the clouds in play, and we see a seismic shift in pressure on IT Ops.

AIOps is poised to be the answer to this problem. IT Ops is the best place for AI to be applied because of the amount of data and the industrialization of the processes AIOps can automate. Without AI, IT Ops just simply won’t be able to keep up. Automation will be required in order for humans to accommodate the mounting pressure and digitization of these environments.

The Next Challenge: the DIY Mentality

It’s clear the door is wide open for an innovator in AIOps like BigPanda to take center stage, but as with any budding technology, skepticism lies in its path. Some large enterprises are of the mind that they can create their own AIOps solution and skip the investment in outside expertise. What gives them this idea?

These businesses are beginning to store data coming from observability collection systems into data warehouses. They realize that—at a very low cost—they can store and query much of their observability telemetry for multiple use cases such as security, compliance, and IT Ops. They then suppose they can run analytics on top of the data and produce their own AIOps solution. The reality is very few companies are equipped with the personnel to achieve this goal. And even the ones that are are not going to get the same scale.

A true AIOps solution delivers built-in horsepower and an understanding of all the different technologies out there—enabling a company to future-proof their growth through technology instead of just putting a bandage on what they have today.

And this is partly why the sky is the limit for BigPanda. Two specific opportunities arise from this exclusive hold BigPanda has over the AIOps market:

  • The investment in topology. As environments get more complicated, we have some level of visibility into how assets, resources, and applications relate to one another, but there is tremendous work to be done there, still. The investment in topology is going to fuel and differentiate BigPanda in the AIOps space because that foundation then fuels algorithmic work and gives context to data to build more powerful and more highly optimized algorithms that can detect root causes of events.
  • The integration of other domains. One of the powers of BigPanda is in its ability to aggregate and normalize event data. Event data doesn’t just have to be IT Ops—it could be security, for example. BigPanda’s technology is very much fit for analyzing and correlating both operations and security data as they go hand-in-hand.

From an investor’s perspective, this combination of market opportunity, technical innovation, and product development is almost mythical. But I’m here to say I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Myth no more, the unicorn is real, and it actually looks more like a big…panda.