Beyond the Google Doc: How analysts are evolving the way they share insights

Written by Yuval Sanders
Mimi Thian Zkbzlifgkgw Unsplash

What does it take to run an effective investigation? It’s tempting to assume that your needs would change depending on the type of investigation you’re running.


But, when you boil an “investigation” down to its bare essentials, it becomes clear that all of them follow similar processes. And they almost all face one persistent challenge. Let’s take a deeper dive into the roadblock that keeps most teams from working efficiently – and how we at Falkor help them overcome it.


What is an investigation?

To understand the tools that teams need to run effective investigations, we first need to break down what an investigation is. When you first hear the word “investigation,” it’s easy to assume that it only applies to crime-solving; the first image in your head might be Sherlock Holmes with a magnifying glass, or a stylish detective from a Scandinavian crime drama. But investigations are everywhere. Anywhere that someone is looking at data to discover the truth.

If you’re using data to answer questions, you’re already running an investigation – even if you wouldn’t call your data analysis by that name. At Falkor, we define an investigation as “The process of discovering, and clarifying data, performed by a person whose job is to analyze, study, and predict things.”


We call the people who perform that process “analysts” – defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “People whose job is to study or examine something in detail, in order to discover more about it.” It covers a whole range of job titles, but really relates to anyone who runs investigations. 


When you understand this definition, it’s clear that a huge number of organizations conduct some form of investigation every day. Whether it’s a FTSE 500 company investigating the viability of opening a new office, a police analyst working to uncover the culprit of a crime, or an online platform moderating fake or malicious content. Once you have this definition of an investigation in place, and you’ve run one  of your own, you have to face two inescapable truths: 


  • In the modern world, investigations can’t be run without technology. We live in a world where new, relevant data is produced constantly – far too much for the human mind to analyze alone. 
  • Running an effective investigation means juggling a huge number of moving parts, and getting them all working smoothly together. 
  • Most of the software available to analysts can handle one or two of the moving parts, but analysts need software that goes a step further. They need something that gets every aspect of the investigation, and every analyst involved in the process, working perfectly in harmony.



The current state of investigation technology 


The problem isn’t that there’s no good software available to analysts. Most analysts could name at least one piece of software that they couldn’t do without. There’s software that helps you collect and store huge amounts of data. There’s software that allows you to detect anomalies or generate automatic reports on the data. Some platforms moderate harmful content for teams who need to analyze potentially disturbing data in the course of their work. Others collect and decrypt data from specific protocols, like SIGINT systems. 


All of these platforms are very valuable. The problem is that they’re also discrete; they’re great at handling small parts of the process, but getting them to work together across the entirety of an investigation is a complex, time-consuming, and frustrating job. Investigations are, by their very nature, multi-layered. Getting to the truth usually involves: 


  • Collaboration between different analysts from a range of departments, many of whom are currently using dispersed systems
  • A huge range of sources and types of data 
  • Many ways of looking at and analyzing data


To make sufficient progress, keep everyone in the loop, and avoid retreading the same ground or missing potential avenues of enquiry all of these layers need to communicate with one another. They need to be able to share information effortlessly. But, at the moment, communication across an investigation is far from effortless. Different parts of the process are often owned by different team members – each of whom use their own approaches and platforms to get their job done. So keeping everyone in the loop means somehow finding a way to unite information from a variety of people across disparate platforms, in a wide range of formats. 


It’s not surprising, then, that many analysts are still stuck using online docs or task management platforms to communicate and pass vital insights back and forth. But that’s an incredibly time-consuming way to work, and often means that important details are either lost in translation, interpreted out of context, or forgotten altogether. 


Other teams work on shared Excel sheets. To extract and share insights, they have to transfer data into generic data visualization platforms. But these platforms aren’t usually built for analysts, meaning the data is difficult to interpret and it’s almost impossible to extract the kinds of granular insights that analysts really need. Some analysts are even forced to manually draw flow charts to keep everyone updated. 

Being forced to jump back and forth between programs to collaborate and communicate doesn’t just create inefficiencies and miscommunications. It also means there’s no ‘single source of truth’ where analysts can go to look at which data has been analyzed in the past on related cases, or see the approaches that helped them solve previous cases. That makes it difficult for analysts to incorporate learnings and data from past cases into future investigations – which means analysts waste time analyzing the same data and running into the same dead ends. 



We created Falkor because we wanted to give analysts a place where they could run investigations effortlessly and collaborate seamlessly. 

Yuval Sanders
Co-Founder & CEO

Everything analysts need in one place 

Instead of jumping between Google Docs. Slack, Outlook, Excel and a whole range of data analysis and task management platforms hundreds of times each day, analysts can find everything they need in one system. They boot up the system at the beginning of the day, do their work – upload data, collaborate, comment, analyze findings, and generate reports – and then log out at the end of the day. 

With a comprehensive, built-for-purpose tool at their fingertips, analysts can reclaim all the time that’s wasted trying to transfer data from one tool to another, or from one person to another. Which means less stress for them, fewer miscommunications, and more time to focus on the big picture. 

Most importantly, Falkor isn’t meant to supplant all of the software that’s served analysts so well for years. Instead, it’s meant to bring it all together, taking advantage of the best qualities of the old systems and adding a few new capabilities that make the investigations process even smoother.


The future of investigations: A comprehensive analyst operating system


Investigations are everywhere – and, as more and more companies realize the value of data analysis, the number of investigations is growing every day. 

As that happens, investigations are evolving. They’re becoming more streamlined, more efficient, and capable of handling bigger questions; analysts are finding new ways to maximize the value of all of the data they find, without drowning in an influx of data. All that’s left to do is equip them with a tool that lets them make the most of these advances.  


Falkor is the first comprehensive analyst platform that empowers modern analysts to run their investigations in the most effective way possible: collaboratively, efficiently, and with all the tools they need in one place. 

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