Jay Humphlett, executive vice president of public sector business at Dataminr, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the aspects of the company’s mission that attracted him to the role as well as the core values that drive its culture in such a competitive federal market of consistent technological changes and adoption during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Jay Humphlett below:
ExecutiveBiz: Why did you want to join Dataminr and what were the attributes of its mission that attracted you to the role? What do you hope to accomplish with the company?
Jay Humphlett: “When I joined Dataminr, I had just sold a company of my own and I was looking at a few other venture-backed startups when a headhunter told me about this company doing some fascinating artificial intelligence work.
That company turned out to be Dataminr. As I was learning more about them from the headhunter, I set up a “secret shopper” demo as a ‘commercial buyer.’ I was blown away by the company’s products and potential even then.
The product from years ago was phenomenal and it’s light years better now. I immediately realized the value of Dataminr’s real-time alerting products for both the public and private sectors. That demo was just the beginning.
After that, I started to meet some of the team and quickly realized that the culture at Dataminr was very distinctive and uniquely collaborative.
We have “40-pound” brains roaming our halls which you’d expect, but we don’t have a lot of the ego problems that many other organizations do in our sector. It’s rare to see such humility mixed with new capabilities in the same company, so I found the work environment to be very refreshing.
The biggest thing about the people at Dataminr is that we’re all truly committed to the user’s mission for good in the public and private sector.
The executive team and I discussed their mission and goals and I believed that I would be coming in at the right stage of its growth after selling my previous company and that my public sector experience mirrored the areas of growth for Dataminr.
Our CEO has been very adept at raising our private capital. He had recently raised our financial resourcing by about $400 million just before I joined. We had a lot of dry powder in the bank so our company has a lot of runway, which allows us to keep investing in ourselves and generate opportunities for years to come.
The final piece of the puzzle for me was and is the enthusiasm. I mentioned the impact that we’re having on the public sector mission, but we truly save lives on a regular basis. Dataminr is making an impact at a rare level of the mission. That has been the most important attribute that keeps me excited to continue our work moving forward.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are the core values that are important to Dataminr’s culture? How has your team developed its workflow and ability to drive success in such a competitive market?
Jay Humphlett: “It’s been an interesting situation because we are scaling our go-to-market strategy as well as our customer success organizations simultaneously. We’re expanding both areas on a global scale, so we have our team in the United States as well as more than 40 folks on our international team across seven different countries.
The work it takes to standardize our best practices has been a challenge, but we’re working on it and the biggest thing is to maintain our company culture as we scale – we don’t want to lose the rare air that we’ve been breathing. Thus far, everyone at Dataminr has done an excellent job with that.
In addition, we have our corporate core values as well. They’re very simple. We focus on ‘own it, finding a better way, bringing others along, and driving results.’ Our corporate team bases a lot of our metrics around elevating our people around those philosophies and it gives everyone a rallying cry in terms of how they can help to add value and growth across the organization.
Dataminr also has more than 10 employee resource groups that are supporting our employees. They function very effectively and I’m the executive sponsor of the Service ERG, where I’m there to guide, but in reality, the members of the ERG are the folks that are really driving it forward. I think that grassroots approach has served us really well and has enabled us to place a great focus on our veterans and former first responders.
I work hard to drive the onboarding for all our new employees that join my team. I want our people to operate with a sense of urgency with their goals and tasks. I don’t want anyone to rush, but I do want them to be quick so we can reach the highest level of production we can.
My goal is for our team members to be proactive wherever we can be. I want them to take a hard look at how we can actually drive ourselves out of that reactionary mode. I believe that makes us a lot more efficient. I expect everyone on our team to be a good human. We’re quite strict about not bringing people on who won’t connect with the core aspects of our culture.
Everything starts on the front end of talent acquisition. Dataminr has an amazing TA team who are all razor sharp at finding more talent to come aboard. They also ensure we have a diverse pipeline of applicants from a variety of backgrounds.
Once a new member joins our team, the development process is extremely important. We want to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equally. Retention has become a much bigger issue and the pandemic has definitely made that aspect a lot more challenging.
At the end of the day, we are focused on making the most significant impact possible. This is felt across our entire company and is the driving force behind everything we do. This is what makes our company different – it is difficult to find a culture that is as dedicated to making an impact on the world in this way.”
ExecutiveBiz: With artificial intelligence and machine learning impacting most industries and the U.S. military dramatically as we move forward, what has impressed you the most about the technology’s capabilities to improve decision-making across the federal sector and all areas?
Jay Humphlett: “To me, everyone in our industry seems to have turned themselves into an AI provider. I do think that people recognize Dataminr is an AI company. However, I don’t believe that a lot of people understand why AI is so central to what we do.
Dataminr is a real-time critical event detection platform. We utilize AI across the entire product spectrum, which is an incredibly difficult problem space to operate in these days. We’re only able to provide the solution that we do through highly developed AI.
First and foremost, the sheer volume of the data that we analyze is monumental. In terms of volume of data, we’re processing nearly 10 billion data units every day. We don’t batch the process. We evaluate those individual data units in real-time. The only way to handle all that data is with a very robust AI engine.
The aspect that makes that even more difficult is we have over 350,000 different data sets and we must ensure we’re pulling all of that information correctly. There are also a number of different data types. It’s not just text or tweets. There are images, videos and we have the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors for those files that don’t have a lot of text.
Because we operate on a global scale, we bring in information from over 160 languages. You can just think about how complicated that can be to get that converted and run through the various AI models along with everything that goes into that. Step one for the AI is to handle the volume and complexity of all the data available.
Secondly, we also do the heavy lifting and generate the alerts to find the needles in the haystacks as well as the difficult correlation to ensure that we’re getting everything right. On average, we’re generating about 40,000 alerts per day, but think about having 10 billion data sets and 40,000 alerts. That’s the other part and it’s a significant aspect of our process.
The third area where we utilize our AI is routing schema and the fact is that no one wants 40,000 alerts a day. We have to provide the ability to configure the product in order to know exactly what they care about and then our A is also used for alert routing.
As a result, we can get a signal-to-noise ratio that is off the charts, and we don’t need to flood someone’s inbox. They’ll only receive the alerts for the things they care about and we do a really great job of that.
The last part is not just which alerts are being delivered, but how they are delivered. Some people want it on their desktop, email or their mobile device, etc.
We’re at the top of the industry and at the forefront of something known as ‘multi-model fusion AI.’ I talked about 350,000 different data sets with a lot of different types, but what we’re able to do is run some very complex correlation algorithms across text, images, video, sound and sensor data to provide richer context that is not available elsewhere.
On top of that, we have one of the strongest AI and data science teams in the world. We also have one of the largest labeled data sets. It is the ‘truth-data’ needed for the AI and Machine Learning algorithms to learn from. That is yet another reason why Dataminr has consistently attracted some of the top talent in our industry.
Dataminr has a ten-year head start on others in the industry. We were working with AI before it was in every company in our sector. We have deployed a significant amount of our private capital funding into our AI and products. While you hear about AI all the time, the reality is there are few players like Dataminr and even fewer with our experience.”