Sramana Mitra: Let me see if I got this. You had a bunch of partners and you were doing value-added type of work for these people?
Ferris Rifai: It was not reselling. It was more services-focused. They would use us as an extension.
Sramana Mitra: In that process of doing integration and consulting, it sounds like you were getting a lot of customers from these partners. That’s how you managed to immerse yourself in these customers, but I’m still looking for the nugget of what product opportunity you identified.
Ryan Stolte: That’s a great question. Take the systems management security products. The products that were on the market were focused on detecting things. They did a poor job, generally speaking, of turning the things they detected into reports, dashboards, and visualisations that the customer could understand and make sense of. They would go detect individual events. The niche that we got in as a consultancy was to help systems get up and running. Where we really added value was, “How do I take that raw data and turn it into a picture that an executive can understand and actually make an informed decision?” That really was the niche – taking that data and turning it into actionable business intelligence. That was the opportunity.
There’s implementer type of work, but that wasn’t where we really wanted to be playing. We wanted to be a higher-level business value add-on. We needed to find a way to scale the business. How do we transform from a consultancy and get out of billing our hours? Can we productize this value? We walk into a customer and somebody says, “I made an investment with a technology. I need insight into what it’s telling me. I’m hiring you as a consultant.” We wanted to scale. So we sought to say, “If you have these products, we’re going to give you a turnkey solution that’s easy to install and easy to maintain. You don’t have to hire an expert to sit in front of it. It is smart enough to know how to interpret this thing and put the right dashboards and analytics in front of an executive so they can make good decisions on top of products like Symantec, for example.”
If we take big commercial products that had big footprints out there like Symantec and Microsoft, and if we can package up the value we bring as a consultancy and make it easy to turn on and use so that you don’t have to have an analytics expert in order to use it, that’s a great opportunity for us. That’s exactly what we set out to do.
Sramana Mitra: Which customers did you get the resonance to fully come to the conclusion that this is the right path?
Ryan Stolte: There was a lot of large enterprise customers. We were doing business with a good number of them in different industries. We had about 30 consultants doing this work on a regular basis, dealing with large enterprise and to medium-sized enterprise.
Sramana Mitra: At what point did you get traction on that in terms of revenue?
Ryan Stolte: We set out working on the product. We launched the first version of it in 2007 and we made our partners at Symantec aware of what we were doing. We showed them its first version. Immediately, they said, “This is something our customers need.” We got an OEM agreement so they can sell it under their brand right away. In 2007, we launched the product and got an OEM agreement with Symantec.