Mortar Data, a New York-based company known for building and hosting custom big data applications, recently announced the launch of a recommendation engine platform that allows anyone to build their own system, and use it with their own data, for free. Recommendation systems are becoming increasingly popular, and have become a gold mine for big companies such as Pandora and Netflix, which use the services to make recommendations based on customer history.
“There are other open source recommendation engines,” reports Wired. “Overstock.com, for example, built its own system using a collection of open source algorithms from the Apache Mahout project. But it’s harder to get started with Mahout. Overstock.com has a team of about six engineers and a project manager working on its recommendation engine.”
While companies that want to adopt similar services have two options — either build it themselves or purchase off-the-shelf technology — Mortar Data’s recommendation system will allow customers to adapt the algorithm and system to fit their needs. Mortar Data open-sourced its frameworks largely for those hesitant to rely on others to run a core part of their business, according to Mortar CEO K Young.
Mortar Data is also planning on making the service much simpler to use than offerings from competitors, and believes it would take only one engineer one week to modify the recommendation engine and have it up and running.
This tool is essentially a marketing tactic for Mortar Data. Since the company generates revenue through building and hosting custom big data solutions, it is hoping that customers of the recommendation system will turn to them to help with the big data solutions that will be processed using the service.
StubHub and MTV.com are current Mortar Data clients. Young hopes that eventually Mortar’s approach will be used for more than just selling products.
“Data is a model of the world as we understand it, and data science allows us to understand the world and make more intelligent decisions,” he said. “We as humanity have a lot of challenges coming up, and the better we can be at making intelligent decisions that are thoughtful and informed and are not just guesses, the better we’ll be at tackling them.”