The Silicon Review
Too often companies skip the important step of conducting a thorough internal needs analysis. This is an essential part of the process in finding the right solution for your organization. Business intelligence (BI) is no longer a luxury that only big organizations can afford. Many organizations recognize the benefits of BI, but may not be maximizing the potential of the data held in their systems and elsewhere. BI is all about turning data into insightful and actionable information. These days, the need for BI-driven insights might be more pronounced in companies that deal with large amounts of information, as even SMEs and entrepreneurs need to make data-driven decisions. Waterloo based UnlimitedViz serves global enterprise customers on 5 continents with an industry leading collaboration analytics solution called tyGraph. Furthermore, the firm has significant depth in the areas of Document Management, Content Management, and Business Intelligence
Founded in 2007, UnlimitedViz is a professional services firm that focuses on the design and implementation of solutions based on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and Windows SharePoint Services. Initially started as a SharePoint Services company, it quickly became specialized in the Business Intelligence space with a specific focus on companies looking to leverage the Microsoft BI stack. In 2014, the company restructured from a service company to an independent software vendor (ISV) with a focus on harvesting data from the Office 365 suite of products and delivering value-based insights for companies looking to evolve their digital transformation strategy.
In Conversation with Edward Senez, President
Can you brief us about your first product that was launched?
Our first product was a Business Intelligence Tablet (BIT), which was an appliance that aggregated the necessary components to run Microsoft’s BI platform onto a single device. It removed the friction of implementing the necessary versions and components of the Microsoft BI stack for users allowing them to get rapid value from their data instead of installing software.
Has customer feedback motivated you to grow the company?
Customers are our number one source of “good ideas” during the development process. We employ Lean Start-up methodologies, wherein we start with a 9-box lean canvas and focus relentlessly on the business problem we are trying to solve. We conduct countless ‘voice of the customer’ interviews before and after product launch and these interviews inform features and product roadmap.
What led to the expansion of the company?
We initially started with one component of the Office 365 platform --Yammer. Though it is a great social collaboration solution for enterprise customers, that has since been rolled into the standard enterprise Office 365 subscription, the product lacked a good analytics solution that could help Community Managers measure success, as well as gain a deep understanding of their network so that they could act on the day-to-day activities.
Discuss the obstacles faced by UnlimitedViz.
There are always technical challenges with processing large-scale data feeds, but the two key challenges we faced were more business related. Evolving from an SI to an ISV meant that we had to shift the company’s mindset from billable hours to repeatable solutions. As I like to say, we used our services revenue to pay for our ISV addiction. The second challenge was starting-up as a SaaS provider. It is common knowledge that years 3+ are great from a recurring revenue point of view, but getting there with a bootstrap funding model is very challenging.
Are there any trigger factors that have played key roles in shaping your organization’s road map?
When we decided to become an ISV, we were in the process of de-risking 21 business canvases. Ideas are free, but acting on bad ones can be very expensive. During the de-risking process, we had to satisfy the following criteria: (a) Does the customer know they have the problem we are trying to solve? (b) Will they pay to solve this problem? (c) Will they buy it from us? (d) Can we make the solution? Knowing our team, the answer to #4 was always yes, but the first three questions killed most of our business canvases. tyGraph emerged as the successful solution from the other 20 canvases.
In The Words of the Customers
“Navigant was one of the early-adopters of the tyGraph analytics tool. We had previously used a couple other third-party vendors, but none were able to provide the depth and flexibility of tyGraph. Beyond the deliverable – the customer service and genuine interest in the customer is bar none. As long as we are using Yammer, we will be using tyGraph!”- Rebecca Bruner
“I use tyGraph for actionable accurate analytics.”- Lee Schubert
Bright Future on the Horizon
UnlimitedViz is bolstered by the opportunity of taking what it knows and turning it into predictive analytics through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies. The firm has been experimenting with Machine Learning, which has been included in its tyGraph for Twitter product. The company will be making a major product announcement at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando taking place in September.
Say Hello to the Founding Duo
Edward Senez, President and Co-Founder: Senez holds a Bachelor of Economics Degree and has evolved UnlimitedViz from a Services based company to an award winning self-funded SaaS based solution provider with double digit growth.
John P. White, CTO and Co-Founder: White holds a Masters in Engineering and has been a Microsoft MVP since 2010. He is a recognized keynote speaker in the Business Intelligence community.