/ Q&A: CEO Josh James on Domo’s quest to ‘Crush the Curve’

Josh James doesn’t like to sit still. When Domo’s CEO is at company headquarters, he’s usually in motion, popping his head into people’s offices, often times asking them to come into his. The meetings he hosts are fast and furious. He not only stands, he moves around. And there’s no messing around when he talks; he gets to the point.

Like famous football player Marshawn Lynch, James is all about that action. He proved it to everyone again in March, when instead of cancelling or postponing Domopalooza due to increasing concerns about the coronavirus, he opted, a mere 12 business days before the conference was scheduled to happen, to break new ground and transform the event into a 100% virtual experience. At the same time, he didn’t hesitate to implement company-wide travel restrictions and a work-from-home policy.

As the pandemic has become more serious, James is still in “beast mode.” Two weeks ago, for instance, he invited several Utah state officials and business leaders to join him in welcoming the first of several chartered flights from Shanghai to Salt Lake City carrying precious personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders and front-line workers.

Using his connections, James helped the state quickly find and procure 8 million pieces of high-quality masks, protective clothing, face shields, and sanitizing wipes—and at a lower price than what other states are paying for such gear.

It’s all part of the “Crush the Curve” campaign that James formulated with Utah’s startup and technology sector (aka Silicon Slopes) and the state government in an effort to save lives and get the economy going again.

A key component is TestUtah, a program designed to dramatically increase the rate of COVID-19 testing. It’s working; since launching April 7, TestUtah has enabled the state to significantly scale up testing, doubling capacity from 3,000 tests per day to 6,000 tests per day.

To shed more light on these initiatives—and others that James and the rest of the Domo team are working on right now to combat the most disruptive pandemic in more than a century—I asked him a few questions …

Q: Why was it important to you that Domo be at the forefront of responding to this crisis?

A: Because of what we do and what we’re about. At Domo, our business is data. We help our customers—some of the biggest companies on the planet—leverage any kind of data, any type of business intelligence they have, at cloud scale, in record time. But what kind of message does it send if we don’t move fast ourselves—especially at a time when speed is of the absolute essence?

And then, of course, we’ve always prided ourselves on leadership. We’ve always strived to set a good example, both on a community level and within the tech industry. So, for us, being one of the first companies to implement company-wide travel restrictions and a work-from-home policy was important on a lot of levels but especially from a safety standpoint, as was demonstrating that it’s not only possible to turn a major tech conference into an online event but one that was creative and engaging and set a kind of standard for what’s possible when you’ve got a clear vision from the start and are willing and able to move quickly.

Q: On March 13, Domo launched its Coronavirus (COVID-19) Global Tracker, a free, interactive tool that pulls data every 10 minutes from credible sources such as WHO, CDC and Johns Hopkins University. The tracker is enabling organizations of all kinds to understand how the virus is impacting the world in which they operate. Why is accurate and insightful data so critical to stemming the tide on this crisis?

A: Jim Cramer of CNBC had me on his show Mad Money a few weeks ago and asked a similar question. The answer is real-time data allows people to assess what’s going on better and faster. With the state of Utah, for instance, they are looking at all this data that we’ve aggregated for them and are able to see exactly how many entry points there are into the state, how many ICU hospital beds we have, how many tests are being conducted, how much PPE we have, etc.

We’ve also been hearing from some big healthcare companies who are pulling data out of the COVID testing machines they have and are able to see which tests are having errors before the labs get them. They’re also able to see where the hot spots are so tests can be shipped to those places. So, things like the COVID-19 Crisis Command Center and the Coronavirus Tracker are helping in this effort, big time. Jim even went so far as to call our tracker “the best one out there.”

Q: What exactly is the COVID-19 Crisis Command Center enabling?

A: It’s basically what we built for the state of Utah so officials could understand not just how TestUtah was performing but all the other initiatives that are part of its crisis response. Now other states are making the solution part of their rapid response effort. In fact, just last week, we launched versions for both Nebraska and Iowa.

It’s a really powerful product. It integrates multiple data sources and delivers real-time insights on key metrics through a simple-to-understand dashboard so state leaders can determine when restrictive measures like mandatory telework and social distancing can be lifted—or if more testing locations are needed at state entry points. As you know, this pandemic is having a massive impact on the economy and people’s lives. This app—which was deployed for Utah within 72 hours, I should note—was designed to help shorten the path to recovery so people can get back to work sooner rather than later.

Q: Is there anything else Domo is developing to help organizations fight this pandemic and take the next step of getting back to work safely?

A: Yeah, like Cramer said, we’re bending over backwards. We’ve rapidly developed a series of additional apps—such as the Governor’s App, the PPE App, and the Hospital Bed Utilization App—to make the management of this crisis a little easier. As you see states get a handle on understanding the status of the pandemic in their region, you’ll see a rapid shift in focus toward what’s necessary to get people back to work. This will not only be a concern of local governments but of corporate leaders. We’re already talking with companies about how Domo can help in this critical phase of recovery and in getting us all back to work. So, stay tuned for more on that soon.

For more information on the COVID-19 Crisis Command Center including videos on how it works, click here.

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