The Disruptors is Pursuit’s monthly feature that showcases thought leaders and CEOs who are changing the way we do business, how we perceive the startup landscape, taking ideas to the next level. It is where innovation meets a created market where none existed before.
Managing a business with all kinds of evolving information is tough, but “dashboards” make things simpler, and easier, and allow for every bit of business data to be read, and accessed, with a click.
Joni Girardi is at the leading edge of dashboard tech as founder and CEO of DataSelf, helping scores of mid-sized organizations improve the way they make decisions.
It’s where analytics, cognitive science, human behaviour, and business all intersect. DataSelf uses big data and analytics to gain and sustain a competitive edge, by leveraging data warehousing, Tableau, Power BI, and the company’s own “power of wow”: more than 5,000 KPI templates.
From basic dashboards to complex reporting, DataSelf’s solution empowers the user through the visualization of critical data across their business.
“Some of our latest insights into the BI world are actually about human behaviour. BI people love data, charts and fancy-looking dashboards, but when you give this to decision-makers who are usually not data analysts – they might be data-driven, but they’re not data-analysts – there’s a huge gap between what we do, and how many these people get it.”
“We’re now in a journey to move beyond data geeks; we have to solve human problems.”
“DataSelf delivers thousands of key-performance-indicators for smart decision-making. We have templates, tools and expertise to inspire clients to learn more from their business data.”
What’s the problem clients come to you with, and how you solve it?
Organizations use a variety of digital systems or data silos to run their business, such as ERP, CRM, payroll, time tracking, marketing tools, inventory systems, Google Analytics, social media and others. And when trying to understand how well the business is doing, people have to run reports against different systems and manually combine data.
For instance, cash flow projection can require pulling open receivables and payables from the ERP system, recurring and other expected payments and receivables from Excel sheets, money in the bank, cashiers and line of credits from other systems, and then combine everything in spreadsheets. Or perhaps they are just trying to understand customer purchasing behaviour over time.
Answering those questions from their own data can be challenging, labor intensive and error prone.
Prospects come to us looking to automate the consolidation of their data silos, so management can run reports and slice and dice their data anytime and anywhere.
Second, they come to us because they want inspiration from their data. They usually have a set of measures that they are keeping track of, but they might not know what else they should be paying attention to.
What is a key point you’ve learned in 14 years of business?
We’ve learned that no matter how unique an organization is, there are a large number of KPIs (key performance indicators) that are pretty common across all organizations. For instance, most companies need to look at their P&L, balance sheet and cash flow in several different ways. Companies that sell something to someone, will likely want to analyze their sales by customers, salesperson, product and services, regions and see if sales, cost of sales and gross profit are going up and down over different periods.
With that experience under our belt, we built a library of 5,000 report and dashboard templates. That’s a well thought-out and mature starting point that we deliver on day one.
What knocks people’s socks off?
Some decision-makers don’t know is more important than what they know.
We knock people’s socks off when we deliver on day one thousands of insights into their business. That’s usually what organizations can only get in years of data exploration paying a ton of money to IT and business consultants.
Advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Rule #1: Listen to your clients.
Rule #2: Listen even more closely to your clients. Sometime we just don’t get their pain points
Rule #3: Keep the communication open and deliver on your promises on time and on budget.
How, specifically, would a client retool their business based on the product?
Businesses change rapidly nowadays. Having a good understanding of the trends and stories revealed by the company’s data can dramatically affect the management and operation of a business. For instance, another one of our clients find out that their customer loyalty was eroding in years 2 and 3. Once they saw the trend, they figured out that the change in the sales commission done by the prior VP of sales had to be adjusted so salespeople wouldn’t only focus on new sales.
What’s the latest breakthrough for your company?
We released out cloud analytics platform at the very end of 2017. And in 2018, about 70% of our new deployments have been in the cloud.
The cloud has been an amazing ride for our clients. They can securely access their data anytime and anywhere, as long as they have internet access. And they don’t have to bother with IT infrastructure and costs. It’s all managed in our AWS server farm.
And for us, we have been able to dramatically reduce our IT overhead costs. We lowered the price of our solution, and we now have more time to inspire clients to get more from their data.