CFO World

Domo: Running a business based on dated data is pointless

Data’s like milk, if you don’t use it, it goes off

While businesses have access to unprecedented amounts of data now, bringing it all together, democratising it across an organisation, and then serving up meaningful insights in real time during marketing campaigns is the big challenge, and remains so, according to Domo, a company aiming to be the ‘operating system’ for business.

Paul Harapin, VP and general manager of Domo APAC, said data science is a deep focus area for lots of organisations, but getting the data in one place before you can even use it is easier said than done. Then, choosing which data to use, let alone serving up insights as needed, and not months later when reports have finally been created, makes it an almost impossible task for many.

“Data’s like milk, if you don’t use it, it goes off,” Harapin told CMO.

“That’s what we see every day. Imagine using your GPS in your car on Friday, and your GPS starts telling you the turns you should’ve taken on Monday. That might be great if you happen to be taking the exact same route, but even then, it’s unlikely to be helpful.

“But that’s how many companies run their businesses - on information sourced in the past. But it needs to be immediate. If you are not getting your data until a month later, then you are making decisions based on assumption and experience only, which may be right, but also may be very wrong. That’s the challenge we are trying to address at Domo, getting information into the hands of people who actually need it, in the moment they need it.”

Domopalooza

The company’s recent showcase ‘Domopalooza’ was indeed the culmination of many years of development of the platform. Domopalooza, held in the US, included new product enhancements, solutions and integrations to help companies leverage the power and scale of the platform to accelerate their digital transformation journey and get more value from their business data.

Domo announced new enterprise security and governance capabilities that work with identity-based data permissions to help customers maintain security policies while easing administrative oversight.

It also announced the Domo IoT Cloud, a new offering which taps the power of the Domo platform to help customers harness the full potential of IoT data; and Domo Stories, a new feature set to empower customers to put more context around data.

The Domo Business Automation Engine was another one, along with new apps, an integration with Amazon SageMaker, and Domo for Good (D4G), its new social good program designed to leverage the Domo platform in collaboration with non-profits, bringing the power of data to help solve society’s most pressing issues.

“When you look at the challenges organisations face with data, there are a number of facets. There are so many sources of data now, we are pushing data in at such volume, but how do you make it meaningful?” Harapin said.

“We’ve spent hundreds of millions developing the Domo platform to better do that, but do it in a way that it is simple and easy to use.

“But it’s really hard, and for a business trying to get their heads around data, and its better usage, they will go to the IT department and ask the question, and IT reply ‘we’ll get you something in two years and it will cost millions’. So off they go to try and find all the parts and make them fit together, and by the time they get it, it is out of date.

“This all needs to be as simple as possible. Given data is complex already, we feel an open data framework that connects quickly and simply to any source of data, is the only way to go. Once organisations understand they can integrate with existing investments, and implement quickly, they are happy to do it - but it’s changing the mindset around data.

“Time to value also needs to be extremely rapid, otherwise there’s too much loss to absorb for the average business. The CFO is by now jaded by big budgets and buzz words. Data, its implementation and use, can get all so costly and time consuming; people don’t want to do it.”

Democratisation of data - or not

Another challenge still being faced is the existing silos within organisations, who guard their data jealously and aren’t used to it being democratised.

“Many businesses are trying to democratise their data across the organisation, but the reality is, even the senior executives still struggle to get the information they need, let alone frontline workers or customer service representatives," he explained.

“You need to have access to the info you need to make the decisions important to the business in the moment, in a highly governed way, which is controlled and secure of course, and that’s the complexity of the journey most people are on."

Harapin admits part of the barrier around data has been security and governance, and Domo has worked to address this.

“We need the ability to manage thousands of people’s access to data, but also have the ability to lock it down to a certain level where necessary. As more marketers deal with more challenges due to highly scalable cloud platforms, the volume of information is tremendous.

“How do they sift through that and pull out the biggest customer needs in a way that is useful to the business, immediately? Marketers don’t want reports on a campaign a month later, that’s useless to everyone. They need to see how the campaign is going while it is happening, so if they run out of stock they can stop the campaign so the customer isn’t disappointed; so they can adjust as they’re going.

“Plus, there is a lot of change going on, so how does an organisation approach this with data to achieve digital transformation?”

AI, machine learning and everything in between

In an effort to address some of these questions, Domo recently expanded its data science, AI and machine learning capabilities to speed the time from insights to action.

Domo Business Automation Engine (BAE), part of Mr. Roboto, is an orchestration layer that works across all data, systems and people in an organisation through the Domo platform. It leverages machine learning and advanced alerting capabilities to help organisations coordinate intelligent, event-based workflows and shorten the time from insights to action.

The Amazon SageMaker Integration will also allow data scientists to leverage their Amazon SageMaker machine learning models directly in the Domo platform, enabling more accurate and actionable predictions across the business from real-time data.

Domo also announce another data science integration with Jupyter, a collaboration tool for writing and sharing code and text, allowing data scientists to leverage all their Domo datasets in their Jupyter notebooks.

“Machine learning can help make decisions that you might not have made previously, it can serve new insights, and do it fast,” Harapin told CMO.

“It means changes can be made quickly, and when you can prove ROI, then you can easily get more investment moving forward. Marketing needs to be able to do this, it’s vital, but it needs to be done in a way that can be understood and shared.

“It’s all related: the customer experiences the marketing, moves to seamless purchasing and marketers become more experiential as they engage their customers. It no longer what’s the cheapest product; it’s now ‘what’s the experience I’m having engaging with you?’ How you engage that customer experience from the point of touching the lead, through to creating a transaction that the customer is really happy with. And to do that you need data insights as they happen.

“This is what needs to happen moving forward. But don’t try to do something huge first up, we always say: crawl, walk, run. You have to connect to all of your data, connect the people to that data first. Then, walk by answering the important business questions and KPIs, and build a curious data driven organisation so you can iterate on information as it comes through.

“Finally, to run: learn from insights you have got, use AI, ML, and apply data science to really dig into predictive analytics, and the journey you are taking.”  

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