April 10, 2013
Ten short years ago, the news business was a monopoly, with editors running command and control of the news we received. Content production was based on an editor’s judgment of what was important. There was no real-time way to know which stories were read the most or had the most impact.
Thanks to the infiltration of analytics into everything digital, we, the audience, are now the engines of the news business. And many of us are also the producers.
With Omniture, we saw the beginning of this transformation, as sites used our analytics software to optimize content consumption. Today, analytics still define and direct a healthy portion of the stories that are written. However, the power of brand strongly influences what gets consumed.
If you think about analytics as bringing an audience to the water, brand is often what makes them drink. Brands built by news outlets, news reporters and the people in our networks whom we respect all go a long way in determining what content makes it through our human filter after technology has done its job serving up the content.
For the CEO-as-a-consumer segment, the importance of brand is clearly evident. In a new report from Domo and CEO.com, the Wall Street Journal has held its place as the number one source for business news amongst chief executives. This brand still wields tremendous influence despite the rise of countless online publications. According to our CEO respondents, the Wall Street Journal was also the publication they turned to most often for business news 10 years ago.
I like to see what people in my business and personal networks are reading. That’s why tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and Flipboard are so valuable to me, and why, according to our report, they are gaining in importance to other CEOs. I know I am more likely to read a story if it’s been recommended by someone I know or trust.
This has massive implications for media. It’s also why I believe publications such as Forbes and Fast Company, and new media sites like LinkedIn, are becoming less single, traditional publications and more publishing platforms. They are part of the open-world order that allows people get more of what they want, and less of what they don’t.
I believe the social nature of news is unstoppable – not only because it’s smarter, but because it is based on a level of trust that has already been established by the personal brands of the people who produce or recommend the content. Beyond the analytics, content connected to trusted entities – people, publications or companies – creates the ideal environment to foster meaningful engagement.
We’ve taken this concept about connecting data to trusted entities into consideration when designing Domo. When data is taken out of dark silos and put into the light, conversations start to happen amongst different stakeholders and you start to find new value in data that you may never realized existed. It’s the same with news – getting different insights into something you may have once taken for face value, helps you understand the world in a different way.
March 7, 2013
We’ve been selling Domo for six months and we’ve hit a milestone that’s significant for any startup: We’ve signed 100 paying customers.
We’re still stealthy, meaning we haven’t shown our product to key influencers such as press, analysts or partners. We’ve only demoed to qualified prospects and only under NDA. And if you visit our website, you won’t see Domo screen shots or product videos. We’re keeping things under wraps by design.
Despite self-imposed handicaps, we’ve achieved in six short months something that took us two-and-a-half years to do at Omniture once we started selling to real businesses.
Fast forward to October 2010 when I founded Domo. It was a business I started to address the needs of users like myself — executives with tons of data about their business, but no useful way to get real value from it.
Our first year and a half was spent building product with our heads down and blinders on.
It was difficult, but one of the most important phases in company development that I’ve ever been through. When our earliest customers asked us to add or change something that wasn’t in our product roadmap, we ignored them. As customer-centric people, it was so unnatural to do that. It was also hard to be burning cash, knowing that we could be monetizing those customer requests.
But with Domo, I really didn’t want to create a better version of something already out there. If we were going to create something truly special, build something entirely new, we had to truly innovate and create something that inspired us while not being limited by industry boundaries, customer expectations or current feature lists. There would be plenty of time to listen to customers once Domo looked like the product we wanted.
We got to that point in August 2012. We had built something that would change how people thought about enterprise software. Our early customers had validated our vision, and the overwhelming interest in our product confirmed we had touched a nerve.
It was time to turn on our sales machine.
We let loose a team of phone reps focused on the mid market. Since we flipped that switch, it’s been go, go, go.
I’ve never seen sales cycles like the ones we’re experiencing at Domo. Deals are closing in days and weeks unlike traditional enterprise software deals, which typically take months, quarters and sometimes, even years.
We also are closing more deals over the phone at higher values and in shorter cycle times than I ever experienced with 6,000 customers at Omniture. In addition, our product is selling to executives across a variety of job functions and across a wide variety of industries – media and marketing, retail, telco, travel and leisure, financial services and professional services, to name a few.
Domo is probably still too young to put all our trust in this data, but we’re taking this overwhelming response as a very encouraging sign that we’re in the right place at the right time.
The World Has Changed
If you’ve ever had to sell enterprise software, our sales cycle sounds like a fairytale. But the world has changed. Business users are the buyers. They are a group with significant purchasing authority, and to date, they’ve been completely ignored by traditional enterprise software vendors.
And while the average deal size isn’t as big as a traditional sale to IT, the time-to-value for the customer is immediate. And that’s important. Additionally, the potential upside for software that touches every business user is huge.
Why Revenue Cures All Problems
There’s a difference between having 100 customers and 100 paying customers. Quite simply, the first scenario will contribute significantly to cash burn and the second will counter it.
But there’s more to it. I’ve always believed that revenue cures all problems. If you need to raise money, revenue makes investor conversations much more interesting and often makes them easier.
If you have product imperfections, once you have revenue, you’ll quickly figure out how to fix the bugs, otherwise you risk losing paying customers. The same goes for customer service and implementations. Problems? There’s nothing as powerful as a paying customer to ensure you are doing everything you can to deliver the best experience possible.
Revenue is a good salve for many of the challenges you and your startup are likely to face. Personally, I love revenue at this stage because it’s the best validation that we’re delivering value for which customers are willing to pay. It’s a five-star affirmation of our existence that gives our team the juice to keep charging forward.
I’m excited for what is ahead of us at Domo. We’re targeting the enterprise and have seen 30 percent of our revenue come from Fortune 2000 companies. We have killer engineering and sales teams that are taking things up a notch every day.
I’m also excited by the useful and positive feedback our customers are giving us along the way. It’s helping us optimize the value Domo brings to each and every customer.
If our early sales traction is any indication of what the future will bring, we’re in for a wild ride.
December 11, 2012
I recently shared my thoughts on why CEOs need to embrace social media. The post was inspired by a study on the social media habits of Fortune 500 CEOs, which showed an alarming absence of these powerful executives on the most popular social networks.
Today CEO.com released the findings of a follow up study that compares the social media habits of Inc. 500 CEOs against the Fortune 500 CEOs.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the CEOs of the smaller, fast-growth companies have a stronger social media presence than the leaders of the older, slower-growth companies, but the gap is, frankly, quite shocking.
CEO.com’s study revealed that Inc. 500 CEOs are 13 times more likely to be active on Twitter, 5.3 times more likely to be on Facebook, and three times more likely to be on LinkedIn than CEOs of America’s largest companies. That’s a huge disparity.
We could chalk it up to Fortune 500 CEOs being averse to change – the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. But by not having a social media presence, these giants are handicapping themselves when it comes to agility and growth.
There are other lessons that go beyond social media that big-company CEOs can learn from smaller company CEOs. One lesson, in particular, is staying connected to the front lines of your business.
The Value of Staying Connected
When your company grows to a size where employees are in different buildings, states or countries it’s natural for a CEO to turn to the next person in the chain of command to find out what’s going on. Executive committees become the messengers for the state of the business.
While this might seem like a great strategy for efficiency, it’s also the quickest path to becoming dangerously out of touch. By the time information gets to you, it has been through so many hands that it looks nothing like what you would have found if you went right to the source.
Why does this happen? In many cases, well-intentioned managers think they are doing you a favor by sanitizing and editing the information so it’s digestible. Sure, this is often helpful – but if it’s done too much, you’re probably not getting a very accurate read on your business.
I’ve also found that information gets presented in a way that paints the picture others think you want to see. As a result, you end up missing key details and insights from the real data that help you make better decisions. You also are in danger of missing important signals such as the ones that indicate if you might be losing a customer or missing a new opportunity.
Whether your company is 20,000 people strong or 200, you need to stay in communication with the front lines. The person with the best information is not always going to be the one with the VP title. It might be that quiet developer in the corner who has some great ideas on how to improve your product—yet her opinion or ideas never get out of her department because her managers are focused on getting the next release out the door. This is one reason why I also find social media so valuable. It’s the quickest distance between two points. However, as most leaders will agree, not all information is meant for sharing in public forums, so you have to go out and find it.
When I was at Omniture, we had a product guy named Brian Thaut. Brian knew more about our product than just about anyone else in the business. He didn’t have a fancy title, but he had product insights that were priceless in terms of understanding how we could better serve our customers and continue to add value to the experience we were delivering. I knew when I talked to Brian I would get the unvarnished truth about how our product was performing, which gave me the insights to understand what new opportunities we had to grow.
At Domo, I’ve made it a point to seek out people across the company who, like Brian Thaut, have unmatched insights about different areas of the business. A great example of one of these people is one of Domo’s customer success managers, Kate Barlow.
Each day she has conversations with customers, and every night she sends out a recap of the conversations from that day. I’ve made it a point to make sure I’m included on her FIRST distribution of reports. Her reports are raw notes sent in email. They haven’t been condensed into an executive brief and they are often rife with typos. And that’s perfectly okay with me. The reports are full of real details on what customers are saying, where they have pain points and how they are using our product. I love having this information unfiltered and in real-time instead of waiting for a version that’s been cleaned up by someone else for my consumption. I devour the subtle details that might be edited out in a “final” report.
The data gives me food for thought on product development and partnership ideas. It also signals where we should invest in the business. But most importantly, these real-time notes let me know if we are making customers happy and giving them the value we promise. In a sense, these reports are more important to me than any quantitative metrics because they provide the real color and insight that help me make more strategic decisions.
Domo is still a startup, so it’s pretty easy for me to find key people from the front lines like Kate. When we get to be a billion-dollar business, I’ll still want connections with people just like her.
To a certain extent, all big-company CEOs live in an ivory tower. But today’s leaders need to climb back into the trenches and communicate directly with their troops. You need to find your Brian Thauts and Kate Barlows wherever they live in your organization so you get a real read on your business. If you become comfortable with information that’s been manipulated to look good for your benefit, you are putting yourself and your company at a serious disadvantage.
Which brings me back to social media. Never, in the history of business, has it been easier to connect with your customers and employees to understand what they are truly thinking. Social media is another channel to get intelligence from the front lines. CEOs who embrace it will be the ones who create the most value and lead their companies to even greater heights. In that respect, the fortunes of business will favor corporate leaders who follow in the footsteps of small, fast-growth company CEOs.
November 6, 2012
As a CEO, buzzwords or phrases don’t get me excited. I’d rather show my customers the money than some newfangled acronym or buzzword.
Today, big data seems to be one of the most hyped terms in tech. It’s been PowerPointed and white boarded in conference rooms to death. It’s been lauded by tech media as the next big thing. Hot startups have taken millions from venture capitalists. There’s an abundance of big data conferences. And companies everywhere are working on their big data strategies.
Now don’t get me wrong. Big data is real. I had big data in 2002, so the big talk about big data could be considered more than a decade old and, for a lot of companies, it’s still just that: talk.
Many companies have felt the big data pain – spending heaps of money on tracking and storing it. However, the most important step is actually using it. Domo has sponsored a new research report by Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services on “Driving Revenues with Big Data” because we wanted to learn how some companies are transforming big data into real business advantage. This research also aligns with our mission at Domo – to help companies get real value from the tens of billions of dollars spent collecting and storing information about their businesses.
This report shows that big data is not a black art. Whether you are a manufacturer looking to improve your margins or a healthcare company looking to improve your quality of care while lowering your cost of delivery, there’s opportunity to turn your business information into big dollars.
I’m often asked why the time is now for companies to finally start getting value from the avalanche of data they’ve collected about their business. It’s an easy question to answer: the technology has finally made it possible. The acceptance of enterprise cloud computing (another buzz phrase) has enabled unprecedented access to business information, without adding more strain on IT. Gartner Group projects that more than $109 billion will be spent on cloud services in 2012 alone. Also, the proliferation of APIs makes it possible to bring data from disparate systems into one place, giving business users a more holistic view of their business and enabling more powerful and profitable decisions.
I remember once upon a time, it was around 2004 or 2005, we were asked by Walmart to expose our APIs and we said no. We feared that customers would no longer have to come to our platform if they could access us elsewhere. Nowadays, you could never, nor should you ever, expect to get away with that mindset if you want your software company to be around next year. Software companies HAVE to expose APIs because enterprise tech is morphing into one big, connected ecosystem.
We welcome you to download a copy of the report and let us know what you think. While big data is today’s big buzzword, we think it’s time for big data to start delivering big value.
September 5, 2012
I started my last company when I was still in college. It was 1996. My partner and I were building websites at a time when most businesses were just discovering the Internet.
We were charging $65 an hour for our services. I remember sitting in class one day as the professor was going on about the difference between an LLC and a C corp. All I could think about was how much money I was losing just being in that classroom. That’s when I decided to quit school and focus all my energy on the business.
I was reminded of those early days after reviewing the results of CEO.com’s latest survey, which explores the mindset and preferences of future executives and business leaders. I’ve always believed that a young mind is one of the best sources of inspiration and innovation (JJSR 51) – and was excited to see what tomorrow’s leaders had to say about becoming a CEO. The study includes responses from more than 2,400 students from 499 colleges and universities across the United States.
One of the most eye-opening findings is that 53% of respondents would start a business while in college, and that a whopping 20% would actually drop out of school to launch their business. Now I believe in a good education as much as the next guy, but I also believe in following your instincts and pursuing your dreams.
In my case, there was no substitute for hands-on experience. Nothing prepared me for entrepreneurship more than getting out there and doing it myself. Sure, I took a lot of knocks along the way and I made mistakes fast and furiously. But that’s part of what being an entrepreneur is all about. Besides, getting knocked down is one of the best motivators for getting back up and proving you will succeed.
It looks like a lot of tomorrow’s business leaders feel the same way. According to the CEO.com survey, 57% of respondents agreed the starting one’s own company is critical for the future success of any CEO. In fact, this could be one of the most entrepreneurial generations in history. An amazing 41% of respondents said they plan on starting their own company after graduation while 59% plan to work for an existing company.
The business world is changing almost daily. It is being shaped and reshaped by a never ending stream of tools, technologies, and best practices. But most of all, it is being shaped by people, and many who are today’s students.
The one word that probably best describes this up-and-coming generation is passion. In fact, when asked what’s the most important characteristic a CEO should have, 40% voted for passion, and only 3% picked education. If you’d asked the same question to my parent’s generation, I’m pretty sure you’d get the exact opposite response.
As further proof that this generation thinks different, they overwhelmingly selected Apple co-founder Steve Jobs when asked who they would most want on their executive dream team. Jobs, of course, was famous for daring to imagine what things could be, instead of what they had been or should be, and that included his refusal to adhere to traditional corporate norms.
CEOs of tomorrow are also eager to do away with many of today’s corporate conventions. For example, 75% of respondents want some kind of casual dress code, while 39% feel management titles are unnecessary.
I believe current CEOs need to take note of these changing dynamics and create an environment within their own organizations that makes future leaders feel welcome and gives them the opportunity to grow. This generation is hungry to succeed, but they’re not interested in business as usual. They want to find new and better ways to achieve their goals and enhance their careers.
Take social media, for instance. Nothing differentiates tomorrow’s leaders from today’s CEOs quite like social media. Fully 53% of respondents use social media to stay up-to-date on the latest news and business trends. Moreover, the vast majority regularly utilize social media tools in their daily lives including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and personal blogs.
These activities are in stark contrast to current Fortune 500 CEOs who, by and large, shun social media. While more than half the U.S. population has eagerly embraced sites like Facebook and Twitter, only 5.4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have bothered to jump on Facebook, and just 4 percent have opened Twitter accounts, according to a separate study conducted by CEO.com. All in all, just 42 percent of big-time CEOs have any kind of social media presence whatsoever.
In today’s hyper-connected world, there is no place to hide. Yet nearly 40 percent of CEOs are not even using social media to listen to public opinion about their brand and products, according to CEO Connection, a networking association for corporate leaders. That’s just crazy. CEOs who insist on sticking their head in the sand are destined to get stuck there.
My good friend Marc Benioff at Salesforce.com believes that CEOs who can’t or won’t harness social media risk losing their jobs. Is it possible that the go-getters in CEO.com’s latest survey could be in line for that top spot sooner than they realize? If so, the future of business is in good hands.
July 12, 2012
If you haven’t heard by now, Domo and CEO.com just released a mind-blowing study that found the vast majority of Fortune 500 CEOs are virtually invisible on social media sites. They’re not on Facebook, not on Twitter, not on Google Plus, not on Pinterest—they’re barely even on LinkedIn.
That’s just crazy to me on so many levels. More than half the U.S. population has eagerly embraced sites like Facebook and more than a third are using Twitter, yet only 7.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have bothered to jump on Facebook, and just 4 percent have opened Twitter accounts. All in, 70 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no presence at all on social networks.
When we did the research for the F500 Social CEO Index, it was shocking to me that only nine CEOs in a 100-day period had tweeted. And that Meg Whitman was active only when she was running for office – but what about her 100,000 employees and millions upon millions of customers?
The fact that there were only two CEOs with more than 500 friends is almost laughable. Top it all off with the finding that Rupert Murdoch is one of the most social – he’s almost the oldest guy out there. C’mon folks!
Why is this shocking?
Social media isn’t a passing fad. The primary reason you have to be social is because that is where your customer lives. Even if you are not leveraging it to close business and interact with your customers, you have to spend enough time online to at least understand the shift in the world. This lack of engagement would be similar to 50% of the world using email with F500 CEOs holding out; or 50% of your customers shopping online but no CEOs trying it.
There’s no denying that sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are now part of the daily fabric of life. CEOs have a responsibility to their shareholders to be visible. CEOs who shun social media risk losing touch with some of their most lucrative customers, prospects and influencers. I’m just saying it is time to jump on.
Granted, I’m not the CEO of a massive company but I started and ran a software business called Omniture that was close to a half billion dollars in revenue, sold it to Adobe for $1.8 billion, and then I served on the executive team for Adobe, which is an impressively large company.
Now, I’m the founder and CEO of Domo. We don’t have the size and scale of a large multinational—at least not yet. We are aiming to give executives dashboard-like tools to view and manage all aspects of their businesses. We don’t have the size and scale of a large multinational—at least not yet. But we’ve seen benefits since I’ve started using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. We’ve attracted recruits, drummed up enthusiasm for our brand and garnered some immediate feedback from prospects on our product. Our organization has flattened and we are moving more quickly.
One day I tweeted about a product feature that I liked. Two weeks later in a meeting with engineering, I was shown our product with that particular feature built in. We never had a meeting to discuss it. I never sent a memo. The engineer took the cue and figured out how to make the product better. That was pretty amazing.
Social media has also allowed us to have more direct relationships with customers and is helping us reimagine the way we serve customers and prospects. One day, I received a Twitter message from the CEO of a rather large company. He said he was interested in our product, had filled out a form on our website, but hadn’t heard from anyone on our team yet. I called our VP of Sales to find out why we weren’t all over this one. As it turned out, the CEO had filled out a form only two hours earlier…on a Saturday! Naturally, we followed up with him right away – but it made me acutely aware how social really changes everything.
What gets in the way of getting on board? Social takes significant time and commitment, plus it’s an entirely new way of engaging with the world. But this argument strikes me as particularly odd because CEOs have people who can help filter the tweets and Facebook messages just like they filter their email and voicemail messages. Getting on board with social is infinitely manageable. Yeah, it can be intimidating and potentially problematic as it opens up all kinds of cans of worms, and I’ve talked to many fellow CEOs who have a hard time doing business on any terms other than the ones they’ve been operating by for years. But guess what? The world has changed and there’s no hiding anymore. Old school management practices have gone out the window. If you’re not speaking for yourself, other people will speak for you. And you may not like what they have to say.
Also, since employees have more social savvy, so must company leaders. Consider the results of a recent BRANDfog survey: employees feel that companies with CEOs who use social media are much better positioned for success. In addition to enhancing the brand, employees believe that social CEOs help the company on most every front including recruiting, trustworthiness and sales.
At Domo, we’ve launched an exciting project called the #domosocial experiment designed to get all employees engaged in and learning from the newest consumer and social technologies. We’ve even made social media usage a condition of employment.
I believe that giving people throughout our company social media experiences will enable us to develop higher-quality products, understand the viral nature of web offerings more effectively, better promote the Domo brand, and foster more interesting customer conversations. And, as CEO, I can’t ask for much more than that. I’ve also heard from employees that this experiment has made them feel more connected with each other, which has been an unexpected bonus.
While Domo’s size might make it easier for me as the CEO to get on board with social, Fortune 500 CEOs have much more risk by NOT embracing these channels, and they are making it easier for others to out-innovate them or take over their brand.
The point is that CEOs need to champion innovation wherever it exists. Social media is just one form of innovation, and you can be sure there is much more coming down the pike.
It is my hope that Fortune 500 CEOs come to believe in the transformative power of social media. But if they persist in lagging far behind the general population in social media participation and not delivering value to the shareholders that is there for the taking, they may not be CEOs for much longer.
Click here to see the infographic and video.
June 8, 2012
Data never sleeps. Every minute massive amounts of it are being generated from every phone, website and application across the Internet. Just how much data is being created and where does it come from?
For that you should check out this Domo infographic.
June 1, 2012
I’ve never been a fan of buzzwords or language that isn’t clear, intuitive or easily understood. It seems like every industry has its own vocabulary. Fine for the insiders, but it’s limiting when trying to communicate with a broader group.
Business intelligence is no different. As BI starts to spill out of the realm of IT and data professionals, our team thought it might be useful to provide business users with this BI 101 cheat sheet. The following infographic provides a snapshot of where BI is today and some of the common terminology associated with data-driven businesses.
While it’s no secret that BI can provide a leg up on productivity and results, the lingo of BI shouldn’t get in the way.
May 31, 2012
CEO.com™ is a website I launched before starting Domo. When I was CEO of Omniture, I was constantly looking for stories and inspiration that would help me be a better leader. I wanted to create a resource to help myself and other executives stay up-to-date with what’s happening at the leadership level across top industries and have the latest strategies and best practices in business management all in one place.
I’m a big believer that nothing can replace the effectiveness (and the gut-wrenching pain) of personal experience. To be honest though, I don’t mind being spared some hurt every once in a while. I’ve learned invaluable lessons from the insights, mistakes and experiences that other CEOs have been willing to share.
This is one reason why I’m thrilled about CEO.com and what we have planned for the year ahead. I love learning what makes people tick, and I’ve been busy interviewing dozens of fellow CEOs. I’m excited to share these feature interviews with you. You’ll hear what motivates them, their biggest mistakes, best lessons learned, and discover the untold stories you won’t find anywhere else. I hope you’ll enjoy reading these interviews as much as I’ve enjoyed doing them.
My first interview is with Reid Hoffman, former CEO of LinkedIn. You’ll learn how to increase your chances at luck, as well as some key lessons from his new book called The Startup of You.
Our original content doesn’t stop there. We’re loading up on more useful information delivered through infographics, CEO lists and other original features. Check out our infographic on the Future Social CEO to see how being a social leader impacts your career and your organization. If you’re in need of additional inspiration, we also posted Six Gutsy CEOs, stories of risky but rewarding moves made by fearless CEOs.
Lastly, our crack editorial team is monitoring hundreds of publications to find the best content for and about the world’s most interesting leaders and deliver it to you each morning. Subscribe to our free newsletters, which provide you with a daily dose of the most effective business strategies and leadership advice all in one place.
I really hope CEO.com becomes your one-stop shop for your CEO-related news, buzz and leadership insights. Give it a test run and let me know what you think.
May 24, 2012
To capture some baseline metrics and preliminary feedback on the #domosocial experiment, we asked employees to take an online survey. Suffice it to say, I’m glad to see that learning something new is by far the number one thing people said they are excited about. This supports the buzz we’ve been hearing in the hallways and seeing on Twitter. When it comes to what worries people, the time commitment and a fear of doing something stupid were reported as the two most common concerns. Man…we’ve got a conscientious group. Check it out here.