Fluree is an open-source, blockchain-backed data management platform that has been selected by U.S. government agencies including the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide reliable data integrity. In this interview with TechBullion, Brian Platz (CEO) and Eliud Polanco (President) of Fluree will be throwing more light into this platform and the impacts they are making.
Please introduce yourselves to our readers?
BP: My name is Brian Platz, and I am the co-founder and co-CEO of Fluree. Fluree is North Carolina-based and is a public benefit corporation focused on transforming data security, ownership and access with a scalable blockchain graph database.
EP: My name is Eliud Polanco, and I am Fluree’s president. I previously served as co-founder and CEO of ZettaLabs, which used artificial intelligence and machine learning to prepare raw data for analytics use and recently merged with Fluree.
What is Fluree and what unique solutions do you provide?
EP: Fluree is a data management company offering organizations a path to managing data more strategically. Fluree’s vision is to help transform siloed, data-hoarding organizations into strategic, data-sharing ecosystems. Fluree specifically offers two products, Fluree Sense and Fluree Core, that provide enterprises with a path to data-centric architectures.
Fluree Sense is a golden records pipeline to automate the data transformation process, taking raw data from disparate systems and outputting clean, golden, non-duplicated golden records. Fluree Sense uses machine learning trained by subject matter experts to ingest, classify, and remediate disparate legacy data. Fluree Sense learns and builds metadata from multiple data sources identifies data duplication and uses machine learning to tag, clean and remediate data, with no programming required.
Fluree Core is an open-source graph database that uses ledger DBMS capabilities for cryptographically-verifiable data, JSON-LD and semantic graph capabilities for data interoperability, and data-centric policy enforcement for automated governance and security. Fluree Core provides an elegant data-centric architecture for distributed or decentralized data sources to manage, govern, and serve high-quality and trusted data for operational or analytic consumption.
2022 witnessed a flood of data from COVID, social media, cybersecurity and more. Which events impacted the data industry the most, and what are the trends to look out for?
EP: Throughout 2022, we saw businesses evolve from function-centric business models to data-centric ones, a trend we expect to continue into the new year and beyond.
For the past 20 years, business IT investments were focused on increasing productivity at the function level. Data often came as a result, or by-product, of certain investments. But we’ve reached a peak threshold of function-optimized productivity, and the new arena for competitive differentiation is out-smarting the competition, versus out-executing them. This requires putting data in the center and having all business functions be able to securely collaborate and leverage data coming from across all other functions.
In this data-centric model, the data is the product, and the functions come to the data rather than the other way around. This is a business practice we’ve already begun to see in 2022 and fully expect to continue moving forward.
One popular event was Elon Musk, who initially shied away from purchasing Twitter, alleging that the site could not verify the authenticity of its users. Could this type of technology resolve this concern?
BP: Fluree’s solution offers a way to trace the entire lifetime of a given dataset, so yes, our technology could resolve Elon Musk’s problem by verifying the authenticity of a given user’s profile via digitized verifiable credentials. Not only does this type of verification work in the context of social media, but it could even include verifying a job-training completion certificate, college transcripts or other degrees.
Using this guaranteed, digitally-verified data, job candidates and employers alike will benefit from provable ways to match skills with competencies required for a given position, having the ability to carry those credentials and records digitally.
Beyond those benefits, could you talk to us more about the future of Web3 and what it could enable?
BP: Absolutely. At present, Web3 is still in its nascent stage with a great deal of capital investment but also a slew of usability and privacy challenges ahead. But these concerns – which are not unlike the early phases of the internet that we’ve come to be so reliant upon today – are only natural given that we are living in early phases of Web3. The internet overcame its early challenges, and there is rightful excitement and anticipation around the future of Web3 and its limitless potential.
But in order to balance privacy with innovation, the industry will need to support a mixture of centralized and decentralized data. The adoption of decentralized data standards will allow applications and organizations to privately connect across distributed data domains. As a result, personal and business data will be more secure but usable across the web.
This type of technological future seems almost utopian but will change the future of work and communication for the better, ensuring more security with everything from personal data online to bigger democratic issues like election integrity.
What is the scope of Fluree’s work in terms of the industries that could benefit from making use of this type of technology?
EP: Consider how many industries utilize and rely on data sets. Healthcare, finance, government operations and sales are just a few of the many industries that deal with data every day. Data is at the center of a sweeping variety of influential sectors from education systems to national security. But if that data is not properly managed so that it is both quickly and easily verified as trustworthy and accessible to those who need it, those datasets are rendered largely ineffective. Fluree seeks to make efficient use of data both simple and accessible.
We see that you recently acquired ZettaLabs. How does that merger change the work you are able to do, and can you speak to whom it benefits?
EP: I was formerly the CEO of ZettaLabs and am thrilled to be serving as Fluree’s president now. By adding the ZettaLabs team and product suite to Fluree’s own, we are poised to help organizations transform their data journeys by effectively addressing all major aspects of migration and integration including security, governance and semantic interoperability.
Fluree has already recognized that organizations flourish with access to technology capabilities that give them a way out of their silos to build their end-goal infrastructures while also enjoying the unique benefits of Fluree’s semantic graph distributed ledger database technology. Our partnership expands our capabilities, allowing our combined technologies to address a wider set of needs unique to legacy enterprise infrastructure.
Managing data in general can be daunting and seems tedious. Why is data management important, and what should companies be doing to make their data more useful?
BP: Massive amounts of data can absolutely be overwhelming, but proper exploitation of data can unlock a plethora of potential for companies. Organizations that rely on spreadsheets to manage data rather than making use of machine learning and automation are holding themselves back and perhaps standing in the way of their own growth.
While managing data manually is inefficient and can result in human errors, it also misses the opportunity to create added value by using data in ways never imagined by the original creator.
Properly utilization of credible technology and automation is the path forward for the future of data management. Fluree enables automated and efficient data management, both in terms of smoothing internal operations and allowing different departments of the same company to “speak the same language” when it comes to datasets but also in terms of coming up with innovative new data uses.
What are you currently working on, and what is next on your roadmap? Any more opportunities for investors and partnerships at Fluree?
BP: We recently announced Peter Serenita is the inaugural member of Fluree’s advisory board. Peter brings a wealth of expertise to the board with experience as one of the first chief data officers in the financial services industry during his 28 years at JPMorgan. He is also board chair of the Enterprise Data Management Council and we are certain that he will be an asset to our team.
Fluree is building strong partnerships within industry domains to enter and grow within legacy markets. These industry domains include customer data integration, SAP/HANA migration initiatives. Fluree is also exploring new markets within the decentralized identity domain, with a specific focus on education, government, and healthcare. To check out our partnership program, visit: https://flur.ee/partners.
We have some exciting updates on the horizon that we’re not at the liberty to publicly disclose just yet – both on the product side and on the funding side. Check back with us at https://flur.ee regularly for news and updates.
Do you have more information for our readers today?
We are always looking to educate the market and pursue new opportunities for innovation with our open source community. Visit https://flur.ee/core/ to download our stable version for open source deployment, try out our prerelease updated version, or sign up to try out our hosted platform in beta.
We have a few on-demand webinars available here as well as a slew of blog posts available at https://flur.ee/blog/. You can also find us on YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter.