Year 2018 is drawing to a close. As often, the approaching holiday season is a good time to look back, reflect upon the customer projects and development of the past 12 months, and draw some conclusions.
A lot has happened over the year – our team grew, we gained dozens of new customers, expanded our geographical footprint and are looking to double the size of our office in Helsinki right after the holidays.
We picked out the top three themes in 2018 that shaped our year, and that we believe to carry over to the next year:
1 BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE FOR BUSINESS USERS
At Dear Lucy we try to stay clear of the empty “hype” terms and lame metaphors, but as one of our customers used the term recently to refer to us, we thought we might use it just this one time. Business intelligence 2.0 seems to be happening.
This past year increasingly many companies decided that late nights drafting Excel-sheets and PowerPoint-reports are not exactly value adding activities and should be eliminated. Some of our customers went as far as to eliminate status meetings altogether. We all know the type – the meeting where everyone gathers around a table or a conf call only to doze off until their own 10 min slot comes up during which they typically try to prove how busy they have been.
We witnessed many of our customers genuinely leave manual reports to the past and move to real-time, automated reporting for the company’s entire leadership team. For them, real-time management dashboards bring together jointly-defined key metrics from all the core functions (sales, finance, marketing, projects and production and human resources) and the performance is visible to everyone at all times.
In 2018 we also saw the first customer organizations to fully replace traditional business intelligence tools with Dear Lucy dashboards. The “hard-core” business intelligence tools are well-known for their endless features and the ability to analyze vast amounts of data, and they are ideally suited for serious number crunching by the analytics team.
But traditional business intelligence tools seem to fall short of the top management’s expectations on usability and clarity. The CEOs, Sales Directors, CFOs and board of directors we have worked with look for utmost simplicity – tools that work effortlessly across any device, integrate with their day-to-day work and lifestyle and provide an instant overview of the big picture. For them, more is not better – less is.
What’s more, increasingly many leaders aim to create transparent and employee empowered company cultures, and the ability to easily keep everyone on the same page becomes crucial. The solutions need to work across all devices – be it mobile, laptop or tv-screens at the office – and the key figures need to be accessible without the need to purchase expensive licenses for everyone or to spend hours on user training. Simple, easy and quick.
An excellent illustration of this trend is OptoFidelity where monthly company-wide reports were replaced by real-time automated dashboards.
We have yet to decide whether we call this business intelligence 2.0, “business intelligence for C-level” or simply “intelligent business intelligence” but we believe to see a lot more of this going forward.
2 REAL-TIME REPORTING IS 24/7 AND ON THE GO
This year taught us a lot about how and when business leaders and their teams prefer to keep track of the key business numbers. If you are used to more traditional reporting with weekly or even monthly cycles, you might be surprised to learn how actively people across the company follow company performance data when it is easily available.
And the answer is – all the time and everywhere! Here are some examples that we have come across:
- A sales director that checks his team’s performance last thing at night (at 2 am!) and first thing each morning.
- A board member and owner that tracks company key performance indicators on a daily basis.
- A COO that keeps constant track of customer service feedback and immediately deals with poor feedback to ensure crucial customer touchpoints are dealt with quickly and decisively.
- A developer at a software company that likes to stay up to date with the company status, and visits the company business dashboards each morning upon arriving to the office.
- A production engineer of a global growth company that likes to see each new sales of the new product he was in charge of developing in order to understand where they were sold and to whom.
- A CEO who has been delighted to see how employees come to him with proposals and ideas every time they see a major change at the dashboard on the info-screen at the staff coffee room.
We have always known that user-friendliness and flawless experience on various devices and screen sizes is important, and it seems to be becoming the norm.
Furthermore, attracting and retaining top talent is a top priority for many executives. A great employer brand requires many things and take time but modern, good-looking and user-friendly tools are a part of an attractive working environment.
3 START WITH BEST PRACTICES
We are fortunate to get to work with forward-thinking customers and partners every day – many of whom are leaders within their respective industries. This has given our team excellent insights on the type of KPIs companies are tracking, and the metrics that seem to be common across industries.
In the early days, we often started customer projects with a blank slate – defining KPIs together with customers from scratch. We pulled data from the backend systems and defined business rules and formula to arrive at the desired KPis.
By now, we have developed dashboards for almost all the major enterprise software out there – be it sales, marketing finance, projects, deliveries, customer service or human resources. This has taught us a lot. Now, when starting a new customer project we no longer have to start from an empty canvas. We go through our most commonly used metrics and best practices we know have worked for dozens of other companies.
This does two things: For one, we are able to speed up project deliveries to the delight of our customers, and two, we can move towards easy to buy and quick to implement ready-made reporting solutions.
An excellent illustration of this is the award-winning Valamis Group where more than half of the KPIs were available right away at the start of the project.
Our first ready-made package is sales reporting solution for companies running on Salesforce.com. Our ready-made package includes the most commonly used metrics compiled into four dashboards for various uses: one for the management team, two for the sales team and one to be shared across the company. This allows companies to easily share key sales data – quickly and cost-effectively.
More than one third of our new customers in 2018 came from outside of our home market. With an increasingly multinational customer base and customers working across geographic locations and time zones, the key initiatives for 2019 are to develop our digital presence, expand our self-service functionalities and provide online customer support to allow customers near and far to have a superb experience with us.
All in all – it’s been a year full of excitement and action, and we could not be more excited to see what lies ahead in 2019!
We would like to thank all of our customers and partners for 2018, and wish everyone a joyful and relaxing holiday season!