My Blog

Great Leaders Ace This One Skill

June 12, 2014

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CEOs work hard to manage their brands and balance the demands placed on them by a variety of stakeholders. But what do employees and executives really think of their corporate leaders—and how do CEOs perceive themselves? These are some of the questions we set out to answer in a new study from Domo and CEO.com.

Our recent report underscores that employees want to hear from CEOs at least once a month as they look to them for inspiration and motivation. And when it comes to the frequency of CEO communication, there’s definitely room for improvement.

My own experience has shown that CEOs who are skilled communicators tend to create strong alignment and company cultures and, as a result, drive strong company performance.

One great example is my friend, Marc Benioff, CEO of salesforce.com. Fifteen years ago, Salesforce set out to transform the software industry as well as the model for corporate philanthropy. I was struck during last year’s Dreamforce conference how Marc is still articulating that same company message at every turn. Salesforce is the one of the most well respected software companies on the planet and there’s no doubt in my mind that Marc’s communication skills have been a huge factor in rallying all stakeholders behind the salesforce.com movement.

Unfortunately, as our report shows, not every CEO has nailed the art of communication. As an example, I had an opportunity to listen to a CEO of a multi-billion dollar company talk to a large group of investors. He was an incredibly smart and strategic executive, but it was painfully obvious that he did not want to be on stage. In addition to defensive body language, he failed to share any vision of how his company would be leading the industry into the future. He became animated only when introducing the speeds and feeds of the newest product line. He enjoyed being a product salesperson.

Needless to say, inspiration was lacking – and it impacted both the culture and the way outsiders felt about the company. Inside the organization, it was hard to identify any crusaders. Outside the company, the reaction was “ho-hum” whenever the company name came up. I know there are multiple factors impacting stock price (performance being key), but I believe that this particular CEO’s inability to inspire and get into the hearts and minds of stakeholders contributed to the company’s stock price being stuck in the same uninspiring place for years.

So, let’s say you’re a CEO who wants to be a better communicator. There are many lessons to share, but I’ll limit myself to two points:

1.     Think big!

You need to articulate why your company exists — beyond the products you actually sell — and use every opportunity to share that message with your key audiences, especially employees. Contributor Carmine Gallo wrote a great piece in Forbes about how CEO Howard Schultz when talking about Starbucks, never talks about it as a coffee company. Surprising? Rather than getting caught up in “product salesmanship” like the CEO in my earlier story, Schultz talks about being in the business of building a company that treats people with dignity and respect. It’s your job as CEO to make sure everyone understands the cause they are getting behind and why.

2.     Use multiple channels.

In their book The Social Employee, authors Mark and Cheryl Burgess advocate for executives to become social business leaders. I couldn’t agree more. It is time for CEOs to go beyond email and the company meeting to communicate with their organizations. In this article for Forbes, I explained why CEOs who aren’t leveraging social media are doing their stakeholders a massive disservice.

For employees, social media enables a new level of transparency and a direct view into what is important to you as CEO that never existed before. Personally, I’ve seen company alignment and culture develop more rapidly at Domo than it ever could have before, and in a more meaningful way.

Domo’s culture is palpable. There is an understanding throughout the company that we are doing something much bigger than building software. We are on a mission to delight customers and transform the way business is managed. It’s my responsibility to inspire employees around this cause; social is proving to be extremely effective way to achieve that goal.

Communication is an important part of inspirational leadership. Work it in the right ways and it will work for you.

A complete copy of the report is available for download at CEO.com.

Show Me A Sign…..A HUGE ONE, THANK YOU!

March 27, 2014

As a tech company CEO, I look for certain signs to tell me whether or not we are on track.

One thing I’m always asking of our sales team is to “show me the money” because I’m a big believer that renewals and expanded customer relationships are near perfect indicators that we are helping our customers make money.

Every now and then, I’ll say more quietly, “Show me a sign.”  And every now and then, the universe delivers.

Along these lines, today I’m thrilled to share that eBay is a customer. eBay was one of the first big customers that we announced at Omniture and it is now one of the first big customers we’ve announced at Domo. Some might say this is karma — that the energy we put into helping eBay succeed as an Omniture customer is now coming back to help us at Domo.

Whether this is karma or not, I take it all as a positive sign that we’re on the right track. Being able to work with eBay again is pretty dang cool.

I do know that signs like eBay don’t mystically appear. It takes an entire company working for the right reasons to attract and keep eBay-caliber companies coming back. If you want to know more about how eBay is getting more value with Domo, please check out our press release or customer story.

Our commitment to customer success is why Domo exists. If we continue on this track, I suspect we’ll be seeing many more positive signs soon.

Peace.

Josh

The Feds Could Save $500B with Better Use of Data [Infographic]

March 4, 2014

In a recent survey of 150 federal IT executives, 69 percent pointed to big data as a way to increase efficiency, enable smarter decisions, deepen insights and save up to $500 billion across the federal government.

You read that right—$500 billion. And it all comes from making better use of data. If the government could save even half of that, the impact would be tremendous. It also makes you question how much value is trapped inside the data you already have about your business.

To put those big data savings into tangible terms, check out our new infographic.

The World Needs Data Scientists [Infographic]

October 17, 2013

While Domo focuses on making data consumable for CEOs and business users, there’ll always be a need for people who swim in data all day long. Check it out.

 

B2B Marketers: Is Your Website Working Hard Enough?

September 18, 2013

If you’re a B2C company like Amazon or Nordstrom, your website is your storefront. Consumers come to your site with the intent to purchase. Without a highly usable design, you’re missing out on a lot of revenue.

If you’re in the B2B space, it’s time to start thinking about your website the same way B2C companies do. Your website should be your most efficient and effective sales and marketing channel.

At Domo, it is certainly ours. A significant portion of our revenue originates with leads from our website and more than 99 percent of prospects check it out at some point in the buying cycle. That’s some pretty telling data. Given that we spend the biggest chunk of our marketing budget to get people there, we’re intent on making sure the website is working as hard as it can.

With that in mind, today we unveiled a new website to make it easier for customers to connect with us. We’re optimizing the user experience through a new design and an underlying infrastructure that will get prospects what they want more quickly, and effectively scale as our business expands.

For us, the new design isn’t about a new look. It is about delivering a better experience, improving conversions and driving more revenue.

If you’re a B2B company, it’s never too late to turn your website into a high-performing sales and marketing asset. When we started this process, here were the major considerations that influenced our decisions:

Design by Data. Over the last several months, we’ve been testing numerous landing pages. We found that the conversion rates doubled for certain pages over the others. So we adopted the design cues from those top-performing pages into the look and layout of the new website. Data is your friend – use it.

Mobile First. Since our product is designed “mobile-first” – it only makes sense that our website is too. As a result, we’re making it more accessible to mobile users through responsive design. Our goal is to give prospects a familiar experience whether they are coming to us via the desktop, a smartphone or tablet. With the rapid shift to mobile computing, a mobile-friendly design is a must, not a nice to have.

Usability.  This new, cleaner feel is more intuitive and more in line with what customers expect from Domo in general. As a data-driven company, we’ll continue to make improvements to the site as the data dictates.

Content is King. In today’s world of content-driven marketing, we’re ready for a more flexible CMS system that can scale with us and support a growing number of users. Most of our employees who produce content aren’t developers, which means our CMS also had to be simple to use. To most, website infrastructure isn’t as exciting as the front end, but it’s critical.

Business is Global.  Today the majority of our customers are in North America. However, we are selling internationally and it’s a given that we’ll aggressively grow our business internationally. This means our infrastructure needs to have the chops to grow with us and can easily support localization for new markets.

While the above points went into our redesign, there’s one more important lesson to take from B2C: B2C knows that a website is never “done” – follow your data and continuously refine.

Your website should be a killer marketing and sales machine. It has been a significant revenue source for Domo, and it will be even more important going forward.

Here’s to taking the next step.

Josh

What Do The World’s Top-Performing CEOs Look Like?

September 12, 2013

Harvard Business Review recently released a pretty cool scorecard that evaluates the world’s 100 top-performing CEOs. To round out the scorecard’s focus on performance and demographics, we added a little research of our own.

When you look at the data, some of it might surprise you. For example, more than 70% on HBR’s list don’t have a masters’ degree, but only 1% never graduated from college. Did you know that 11% are bald? And almost all have said “I do” which makes it easy to conclude that having a spouse is good for business.

But no matter what stories the demographics tell, they really don’t determine success. I believe it’s more important to study the behaviors and the decisions these CEOs make that get them – and keep them – where they are today.

If you are interested in seeing what you might have in common with the world’s 100 top-performing CEOs, check out our latest infographic below.

Josh

 

CEOs of America’s Largest Companies Embracing Twitter and LinkedIn (Facebook, not so much)

August 6, 2013

Last year my company Domo, along with CEO.com, published an eye-opening study that revealed the social media habits of Fortune 500 CEOs. It found that the vast majority of these business leaders were virtually invisible on social media sites.

At the time, it was startling that more than half the U.S. population had eagerly embraced sites like Facebook, yet only 7.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs had joined Facebook and less than four percent had a Twitter account. My belief was and still is that CEOs shunning social media are doing their shareholders a massive disservice.

Fast forward: A year later, we wanted to see if the picture had changed and if more Fortune 500 CEOs were getting with the social program. So we conducted another survey.

This year’s “Social CEO Report” delivered a mixed bag. First the bad news: A full 68 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs still have no presence on social media. However, that finding is an improvement by two percentage points over last year’s results.

What’s most telling to me is that LinkedIn and Twitter have clearly emerged as the top social channels for business leaders, while usage on Facebook—the longtime heavyweight of social—is actually on the decline among Fortune 500 CEOs.

Twitter participation has increased a startling 55.6 percent over 2012 yet Facebook usage has dropped by nearly eight percent. Why?

I believe it’s simple: Business leaders want information that’s quick, succinct and easily digestible. I hear this from our customers at Domo all the time. Executives, particularly CEOs, are getting tired of being slammed with tidal waves of information. They want it simple, clean and concise.

Twitter more than any other social network delivers those features. Facebook, not so much. But what about LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a totally different animal with a more precise purpose—and that purpose plays nicely to the needs of business leaders. From the get-go this social network has been about connecting the dots and has become an indispensible tool for corporate recruiting and information sharing on a more targeted level. This utility could very well be why it’s the one social media platform that’s actually more popular among CEOs than the general public. Our new study shows that 27.9 percent of Fortune 500s CEOs are on LinkedIn, compared to 20 percent of the U.S. population as a whole.

One final note about the study: Google Plus was included, but just one percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are active on the network, compared to 0.8 percent last year. While not operating at the same level as other networks, Google Plus has some benefits (i.e. SEO) that business leaders should consider before dismissing it entirely.

Fortune 500 CEOs still have a long way to go when it comes to social media, but it appears CEOs are slowly paying attention and no longer satisfied with sitting on the sidelines.

You can see the full report here.

Josh

The Wisdom Of Crowds Infographic

June 26, 2013

When NASA needed a better algorithm for mapping dark matter, it sponsored a competition that drew data geeks from across the globe. After only one week, Martin O’Leary, a PhD student in glaciology, created an algorithm that outperformed algorithms NASA had been developing for 30 years. And in the remaining months of the competition, the results only improved from there.

The key to solving NASA’s puzzle was found in the collective wisdom of a large group. As a CEO, I’ve been amazed by similar pools of wisdom within the organizations I’ve run. While it may sound cliché, the sum of any organization is smarter than its parts. And the organizations that effectively leverage this wisdom are the ones that really take off.

Josh

Check out our latest infographic on the Wisdom of Crowds to learn more:

In the Analytical World of News, Brands Still Matter

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.

Josh

Why The First 100 Customers are So Important and Why Revenue Cures All Problems.

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.

What’s Next

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.

Josh

About me

Domo founder and CEO. Omniture CEO and Co-founder - inception to IPO to $1.8B sale to Adobe. I build companies, speak Japanese, dig Honey Smacks. Family rules. BYU. Trying to make a difference. Learn more about me here.

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