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FASTech: Businesses Need Smarter Software, Whether They Know It Or Not
November 8, 2011 | View the original source
The chief executives of two young big-data companies—Godfrey Sullivan of Splunk and Josh James of Domo Technologies, which are finding new ways to collect and display business data—said they can’t always listen to their customers when they design products because customers don’t always know what they need.
Speaking at VentureWire FASTech in Redwood City, Calif., James and Sullivan both said that innovators need first to listen to themselves if they want to make software that will delight customers.
“If you’re trying to build a company that looks like everyone else’s and there’s an RFP (a request from a customer to evaluate your software), you won’t make the list,” James said. “If you make something different, you’ll be included in the final three and have a shot.”
“That’s absolutely true,” Sullivan said. “When I was at Apple in 1984, customers were not begging us for a mouse. That was true innovation—you push it forward.”
Splunk collects and indexes machine data generated by applications and devices, and customers keep finding new ways to use it—in Japan, for instance, Splunk customers have used it to analyze traffic patterns and get food to tsunami survivors based on what roads are available. In China, a customer tracked his wife by tracking her mobile phone, creating privacy concerns.
Sullivan said one of his biggest challenges is deciding which opportunities not to pursue.
Making software that’s simple enough for non-technical users and letting them try it out for free is important too, James said, because if they enjoy it and find it useful they will happily pay for it later, which makes it selling it to them easier and cheaper.
“There’s a big juicy fat market using antiquated software,” James said. “Look at the big enterprise software installations—they have APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) now, but they’re still elementary and limited in what they can do…When everybody makes it easy to plug into their systems, then it gets really fun, once all that data is available.”
Source: Wall Street Journal