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Bootstrapping Using Services, Scaling Using Content Marketing: John Sundberg, CEO of Kinetic Data (Part 2)

Posted on Sunday, Sep 14th 2014

Sramana Mitra: If I got this right, you were drawn into this Remedy projects and as you were working on these, you saw the opportunity to build framework around the various Remedy problems that you were seeing and be able to productize what you were doing as projects essentially.

John Sundberg: I see it a little bit differently. I saw a business problem that people had and the common tool was Remedy. Therefore, I used the Remedy tool to solve these common business problems. You described it as Remedy problems. I describe them as business problems. Remedy was just the tool that usually got me invited to the party, so to speak.

Sramana Mitra: I meant the same thing but yes, you put it better. Given that you now identified the types and the classes of problems that people were trying to solve around the Remedy tool set, does that mean that at that point you had identified opportunities at productizing them?

John Sundberg: I’ll give you an example problem. Commonly, we’ll be working with service organizations. These service organizations would perform some sort of service which might be fixing a medical device or installing a library detection system. These services, oftentimes, would take a human something like 15 minutes to 15 hours to do. Afterwards, they would want to send out a survey. To create a survey was a little bit of effort, so they would effectively make one survey asking them to rate on a scale of one to five, how did we do? Was the person on time? Was the cost good? Then no matter what service was performed, they would send out these surveys and they would get back answers.

You really can’t do anything with a one or a five. Although they were getting data back, they really couldn’t do anything with the data. What they really needed to do was to create and conduct surveys that were related to the service received. If somebody borrows a laptop, for example, they should get a survey when they return the laptop asking, “Was the right software installed? Were the right cables there? Was it easy to setup?” Based on the answers, they could go back and improve the process.

They went from measuring the process with ratings of one to five to actually getting feedback on the process so that they could improve the process. The business problem was that they’re getting data that was not actually of any value. By thinking differently and sending surveys that were related to what actually happened, they could ask questions that could improve the process. As soon as that was the case, now they’re actually improving processes and they’re actually moving in terms of their businesses. They’re happier because they know they are doing something that customers are actually happier about because the feedback that they’re giving is producing change. That was the first thing that we did. We built this system that made it super easy to build surveys that were related to the actual service received. That was a door-opening thing for us.

Sramana Mitra: What year are we talking about?

John Sundberg: Ten years ago.

Sramana Mitra: Around 2004?

John Sundberg: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: You left 3M in 1998, you said?

John Sundberg: Yes, about 1998 so maybe it’s more than 10 years ago.

Sramana Mitra: The question that I’m trying to get at the heart of is how long it took to do this kind of various problem-solving services project and to arrive at scoping of the product opportunity?

John Sundberg: Interestingly enough, the first product that we built wasn’t the one that I just mentioned. We started off doing consulting and doing lots of projects. We did field service consulting – quite a bit of service systems for dispatching people to go on-site to repair or fix things. We saw an opportunity in the market for a field service application. We did that with a number of different companies. We ended up customizing for different groups. Then we saw patterns and we thought we would start over and build this so that we own it and it’d be better than any product that we’d ever built before.

What we learned was that we can write great stuff, but a field service application is a very long sales cycle. It’s 18 months, if not longer. For a large organization which is who we were targeting, this field service application really was the core of the company and they were afraid to buy such a large application from a company of our size.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Bootstrapping Using Services, Scaling Using Content Marketing: John Sundberg, CEO of Kinetic Data
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