We describe Analyza, a system that helps lay users explore data. Analyza has been used within two large real world systems. The first is a question-and-answer feature in a spreadsheet product. The second provides convenient access to a revenue/inventory database for a large sales force. Both user bases consist of users who do not necessarily have coding skills, demonstrating Analyza's ability to democratize access to data.
We discuss the key design decisions in implementing this system. For instance, how to mix structured and natural language modalities, how to use conversation to disambiguate and simplify querying, how to rely on the ``semantics'' of the data to compensate for the lack of syntactic structure, and how to efficiently curate the data.