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GSAM Perspectives

Interview with Josh James


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Josh James, Founder and CEO of Domo, discusses how data analytics are revolutionizing the way people run and understand their businesses

How did you define big data and what does it mean to you and your business?

For me, big data is not about having more data, but rather, it is about having the right data and relevant information to inform business decisions. At Omniture, we evaluated data in real-time to assess web traffic and key metrics, i.e., search optimization tools and returns, which is how the company got its start. Today at Domo, we are not only providing online marketing data, but also including data from across a company’s systems, and then packaging analytics on that data in a much more accessible manner. The goal is to provide business decision makers across the entire company a holistic view of what is happening in their respective businesses through a single platform—in order to collaborate with each other and make faster, better‑informed decisions, optimizing performance in real-time.

How does a big data provider gain a competitive advantage in the space?

The types and rate at which data is being generated will not slow down any time soon. Businesses will need better strategies and tools to more efficiently and effectively use that data for a competitive advantage. Studies have shown that the best performing companies leverage multiple data sources to better harness their data, make more informed decisions and align their people to improve business results. At the end of the day, big data should enable businesses to make meaningful enhancements such as drive more revenue, improve employee retention rates, or shorten the time it takes to collect payment from customers.

How does Domo create information to help retailers and e-commerce companies stay ahead of the curve?

Ten years ago, companies were not adapting their advertising techniques and offers on a real-time basis. They would set up their advertising strategy for that holiday season and it largely remained static. Today, many of the largest retailers in the world are now looking at real-time data in an effort to develop multiple advertising plans simultaneously. The deployment of any one particular plan is dependent on ongoing customer responses from both online and offline stores. Companies are now considering different scenarios and plans on a daily and sometimes hourly basis, derived from this real-time analysis. I am personally excited about the downstream impact this may have on a company’s productivity—that every employee in every small company may now have access to real-time data and analytics about their business. Over the last decade, organizations have largely relied on their own people to develop spreadsheets and piece together heat maps of data for a human to review on a manual basis. Moreover, the associated IT costs have often been prohibitive.

Today, you can get the data in people's hands quicker, and we believe this will transform the way that people run their businesses. For example, we partnered with one online retail company to develop a centralized inventory system, which enables the company to track product supply in a dynamic and real-time manner. Leaders across the organization are able to glean a holistic view of processes, improve efficiencies, and inform strategy accordingly.

Will the big data space be dominated by traditional, large players or can smaller companies also make a splash here?

We believe this is a $200 billion market with plenty of room for new entrants and disruptors in all different segments. As a data point, if you look at the 2015 Fast Company Most Innovative Enterprise Software list, eight of the 10 companies represented were smaller companies. Traditional, large players have big balance sheets and can buy some degree of competitive advantage, but I believe we will continue to see newer, nimble companies make the biggest splash because we are not stuck trying to solve traditional problems with traditional approaches—we are seeking to democratize the use of big data analytics.

Are there any businesses you’re aware of that have changed business practices based on data analysis?

A leading technology company in the global payments space has shifted their use of data to not just build reporting but to optimize their marketing investment. They used to spend a significant amount of time assembling data, which lived in silos, and very little time analyzing and applying it to their business. Their digital marketing team now uses this data to provide hyper-relevant offers, experiences, products and services to people at the right time, which makes them more likely to convert. They are now able to measure how people react to their advertising, and then continually optimize their marketing efforts based on real-time findings from that data.

What are you excited about looking out 10, 15 years from now? What is your vision of what big data could mean going forward?

Think about how big data is transforming the way that boards govern companies. Board members are no longer receiving information quarterly or days ahead of a board meeting; they are, in fact, receiving information on a more real-time basis. We are in a very different environment today, and boards have a desire to react much more quickly to changing market and customer conditions on a real-time basis. My vision would be for most of the 230 million knowledge workers, or even many of the two billion working people across the planet, to have data analytics at their fingertips every day to run their business.

Josh James

Josh James

Founder, CEO, Domo

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