Josh James: Domo is "most significant tech firm since Salesforce.com"

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Can Domo be major? With ex-Omniture founder Josh James pulling the strings, and funders including the likes of Marc Benioff and Jeff Bezos, you wouldn't bet against it...

“We’re going to make the most significant enterprise tech company since Salesforce.”

If that's your grand ambition then it's probably a good thing that one of your initial backers was Marc Benioff.
But then when your funders also include Lars Dalgaard, founder of SuccessFactors, Workday co-founders Anul Bhusri and Dave Duffield as well as Amazon's Jeff Bezos, you've got some heavyweight Cloud industry talent betting on you.
That's the fortunate position Josh James finds himself in with his latest venture, Domo.
James is best known as the founder and CEO of web marketing analytics firm Omniture, which was bought out by Adobe in 2009. James parted company with Adobe a short time later.
Domo has been kept in stealth mode for some time, but more information is emerging now about its mission statement and its target markets. James hasn't wandered too far from his background in analytics with the new venture, which last week picked up a further $60 million in new funding.
It's all about access to real-time data and how such access can help online marketers make better and more profitable decisions. James wants to free up data that lies in databases, spreadsheets and presentations, pull it into a consistent format and be able to use it for business ends before it becomes out of date.
It's what he's called a Cloud-based business management platform - and it's targeted fairly and squarely at CEOs and other business data hungry senior executives.
Revenues on the rise
The firm may still be in start-up mode, but it's already boasting a hundred revenue-generating customers - as opposed to non-paying beta customers - from a wide range of industries. This seems to have taken James slightly by surprise.
"I've never seen sales cycles like the ones we are experiencing at Domo," he said. "We are closing more deals over the phone at higher values and in shorter cycle times than I ever experienced in selling to 6,000 customers at Omniture."
There is a real business need here that has not been addressed, he argues. "It was a business I started to address the needs of users like myself — executives with tons of data about their business, but no useful way to get real value from it," he notes on the Domo blog.
"Every customer - whether in finance, HR, manufacturing, sales or marketing - has told us that they simply want a way to access all of his or her data in real-time, in one place.
"Executives have been conditioned to believe that they need to get in line to obtain data about their business. That's crazy. What's even more crazy is that these prospects have the ultimate buying authority and they have been completely ignored by traditional software vendors."
Domo backs up this claim with research obtained from a study of 1,064 business professionals to determine how they interact with their data and how satisfied they are with the information they have.
The study found:
  • 93% of all professionals said they rely on business information to do their jobs well.
  • Only 43% say they have access to the information they need to perform effectively.
  • A hefty 84% of respondents say that real-time business information is vitally important to their success.
  • 62% say they are unable to access the information they need in a timely fashion.
  • Only 20% of respondents felt that the data they receive regularly answers their questions in a satisfactory manner.
  • Under a third - 32% - of respondents "rarely" or "never" have difficulty making sense of their business information.
  • 67% of business intelligence users are regularly requesting reports from others instead of accessing it themselves, which suggests that the promise of self-service BI is failing end users.
     
"When we set out to conduct this survey, we expected that data access would be a universal problem for CEOs," says James. "What surprised us, however, was how pervasive the problem is across roles and across industries.
"In today's uncertain economic times, the need for trustworthy data is more critical than ever. Business people need to make fast, well-informed decisions to stay ahead of the pack. But without access to reliable, up-to-date information, even the best-run organisations could be in serious jeopardy."
Fit for purpose
This is where Domo comes in and it's took until August 2012 to have something that James himself was ready to have pitched at potential customers.
"When our earliest customers asked us to add or change something that wasn’t in our product roadmap, we ignored them" he recalls. "As customer-centric people, it was so unnatural to do that. It was also hard to be burning cash, knowing that we could be monetising those customer requests."
But the overriding objective was not to come up with a better version of something that was already out there. "If we were going to create something truly special, build something entirely new, we had to truly innovate and create something that inspired us while not being limited by industry boundaries, customer expectations or current feature lists," states James. "There would be plenty of time to listen to customers once Domo looked like the product we wanted."
Quite what it does look like remains to be seen by most of us. "We’re still stealthy, meaning we haven’t shown our product to key influencers such as press, analysts or partners," says James. "We’ve only demoed to qualified prospects and only under NDA. And if you visit our website, you won’t see Domo screen shots or product videos. We’re keeping things under wraps by design."
To date Domo has seen 30% of its revenues come from the Fortune 2000 company and it's clear that it's the enterprise market that's in its sights. As it scales up, more information will start to emerge. Then we'll see if the 'most significant since Salesforce.com' ambition can come true.

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