Insights From Palantir’s Live Demo Day 2021

Editor’s note: We frequently encounter people who think of Palantir as a high end analytical tool. It certainly transforms and improves analysis. But for years Palantir has been doing far more than transforming analysis. Palantir enables enterprises to improve all decision-making. Since enterprises are the sum of all decisions, Palantir delivers huge potential for generating differentiation. Chris Ward’s review of Palantir’s live demo day captures these point very well. – bg

Palantir’s Live Demo Day reinforced that this is NOT YOUR FATHER’s Palantir!  In addition to some exciting functional updates to Foundry and Gotham, Palantir’s 2021 commitment is to “get their product out there” into existing landscapes, even those with limited technical capabilities. The power of Palantir greatly increases with fuller deployments.  This Demo Day directly addressed those that were concerned they were too small or non-technical to make use of Palantir’s solutions.  It reassured those that don’t want to give up their trusted legacy systems, yet still want better insights from their data.  Palantir is investing in modular solutions that will help them expand to these markets.

Chief Operating Officer Shyam Sankar laid out their roadmap for 2021 and discussed the many ways customers are using Palantir.  He explained that after years investing in and deploying their Alpha products, they are now at the point where significant upgrades are ready to be rolled out.  These can be quickly disbursed across customer portfolios and to improve their competitive advantages.

Shyam thinks of the Palantir platform as an “operating system for the modern enterprise”, but one that has analytics and helps build and connect the entire organization.  Most enterprise software standardizes organizations – making them more similar to each other.  Palantir’s software does the opposite.  An enterprise is really just the the sum of all the decisions made.  Palantir pulls these together in a way that differentiates a company from their competitors.   This also makes an organization more resilient and able to bear unexpected shocks.

During the COVID crisis, the Palantir saw how their end-to-end solution could help deploy solutions in weeks, rather than months or years.  They have developed a powerful end product that is quick to adapt, update and deploy.  Historically, this meant that a customer needed to take their entire end-to-end platform.  For 2021, Shyam commits to investing in modularity that lets the customer keep things that they consider important (or too hard to give up).  This makes it much easier for the customer, but it will also enable Palantir to fit better with channel partners that were previously hesitant to approach rip-and-replace type solutions.

Demo Day 2021 focused on three main areas: their Foundry 21, Gotham 21 and Apollo.  Here’s some highlights from each:

Foundry 21.  Foundry lets an organization break out of an inflexible software by providing an ontology and simulation engine and incorporating software defined data integration.  Foundry is a first class data and integration platform and a comprehensive suite of tools and applications. It serves as the “connective tissue” between the real world and the digital world.   As sensors become more prolific, collecting data in massive amounts, it becomes harder and harder to make use of all this information, even if it’s all in one place. Foundry is a two-way (bidirectional) interface between digital assets and real-world operations.

The Demo Day gave multiple use-cases from various industries, everything from law firms, elder care facilities, medium size manufacturing plants and large financial institutions.  They showed how sensor data, logistics data, and financial data from rigid ERP systems can be pulled together, incorporating user insights.  As decisions are made, data is mapped into the ontology to generate a dynamic model of the changing organization.  Foundry maps the model to the ontology, from the strategic level down to the operational level.  This lets the user test out multiple decisions by connecting different models to see the unexpected outcomes before making real changes.

This is particularly impressive in the supply chain, where determining cause and effect can be expensive and cause significant downstream delays.  In Foundry, all the models, no matter who built them, are managed in a unified environment.  The inputs and outputs are mapped and bound to the real world, resulting in chained modeling that can quickly traverse a complex supply chain. The user can run simulations and test out different scenarios before trying them.

The Foundry user interface looked fantastic.  Point and click connections were clean and simple to decipher, and it promises to work with legacy ERP systems.  Instead of simplifying the solution so it scales, Foundry automates the complexity so that data and models can be turned into constructive organizational change.

Expanding on the Digital Twin concepts already deployed, Foundry enables the incorporation of advanced AI, which quickly allows the data activities of an organization to move from science project to real use.  Their goal for 2021 is to “democratize optimization”, letting traditionally stove-piped organizations turn their existing data into game changing competitive advantages.

Gotham 21.  Gotham is the Palantir OS the Government uses.  They did an outstanding video showing how their Gotham platform helps warfighters make decisions on a complex battlefield environment.  As DoD recognizes the “near-peer” threat of adversaries (especially China and Russia), many decisions need to be optimized, and most decision making needs to be sped up.  Gotham creates a mesh of connected sensors and data feeds to get a holistic view of the operational picture.  It allows warfighters (from strategic to tactical) to understand what choices are available and see what the secondary consequences are of these choices.  It synchronizes the dynamic sensor and data feeds.

The goal for 2021 is to deploy Gotham capabilities to help build out three main objectives:

  • Understand: More sensors mean more eyes on the battlefield.  But without a “brain” these “eyes” can’t see.  Gotham serves as the brain that pulls the data sets together into a unified view that is useful to the warfighter.  AI helps.
  • Decide: After you can “see” the situation, you need to decide what to do about it. Gotham helps the user spend more time making decisions and less time “setting up the chess board”.  It creates a digital playbook to explore options and adapt to changes.
  • Act: Finally, Gotham lets the constellation of people and machines carry out the mission by acting on the information.  Gotham nodes synchronize a distributed mesh, updating systems as they come on and offline. It enables in the field node-to-node and edge-to-cloud sharing.   This is done at the tactical edge through ruggedized laptops or onboard displays.

Apollo.  Anyone who works in DoD immediately asks the question: what about the disconnected, intermittent environment of a real battlefield where your typical SaaS just won’t work? Similar questions are asked in the commercial world, where deployments of solutions must occur over large enterprises of mixed legacy and modern technology foundations. Apollo helps manage all this.  In 2021, Palantir has committed to solving deployment and management issues through Apollo, which meets the customers wherever they are.  Apollo is an end-to-end highly extensive framework for continuous delivery of a product.  It powers software defined data integration and expanding workflows that can “go anywhere”.

SaaS is becoming more important, and even the most hesitant Government solution providers are realizing that SaaS is the “secret sauce” to getting real situational awareness.  Apollo makes Gotham possible for the tactical users, who might be operating in a contested EW environment, or on a submarine with intermittent connectivity.  Apollo also enables the fast delivery of software and updates, without compromising on stability.

Demo Day 2021 committed to getting Foundry and Gotham out to the user quickly.  It addressed new markets for Palantir solutions, from small to large scale.  It identified the need to protect the tactical edge through mobility solutions, to “meet the customer where they are”.  It also committed to work with existing data structures and infrastructures so they can be integrated into their existing investments.  This will remove a large obstacle for many organizations.

The video from this live demo day is now available for you to review. Find it at this link.

For more see: Palantir