Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions have grown exponentially in recent years because it allows businesses to adopt solutions without the burden of installing and maintaining software in-house. In very large organizations, SaaS solutions are especially beneficial because installing and deploying software for thousands of users can be a daunting task.
Microsoft recognized this eight years ago and created their Office 365 SaaS platform. The journey was slow in the beginning, but now that the platform has matured, enterprises are flocking to adopt the new Office 365.
UnlimitedViz is a company that has followed this SaaS adoption trend resulting in it becoming a10-year-old overnight success story. Founded by John White and Ed Senez in 2007, UnlimitedViz was a Systems Integrator (SI) focused on deploying ECM solutions with Microsoft SharePoint. By 2009, the company began the journey towards Business Intelligence by focusing on integrating the Microsoft BI stack with SharePoint.
In 2014, the company saw the SaaS opportunity and restructured from an SI to an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) with the launch of its now flagship SaaS offering: tyGraph – a data analytics solution for companies looking to evolve their Office 365 digital collaboration strategy.
In conversation with Dean Swann, John P. White, and Edward Senez
What is your firm’s vision statement? How far have you been successful in achieving the same?
“Intelligent tools for better collaboration” Enterprises struggle with effectively measuring the impact of their collaboration efforts across the enterprise. Communications that lead to effective collaboration are both formal and informal and being able to measure the effectiveness means that you need to plumb into multiple channels to get a holistic view. As an example, the pervasively adopted Office 365 platform has a number of communication channels like SharePoint, Teams, Exchange, and Yammer, each of which is designed to be collaborative platforms either unto themselves or as a cohesive packaged solution. With this rich ecosystem available to the enterprise, organization struggle with answering some of the most basic questions like “how are my executives managing their digital transformation efforts?” or “who are the top influencers in my region?” tyGraph cuts through the noise of the many signals being broadcast and brings empirical evidence to the question “How are we doing?”
How successful was your first project roll on?
tyGraph was successful because we brought our customers along for the journey. 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. In the end, we arrived at a product was purpose built around very specific problems. When we present tyGraph to customers, we often get the feedback “this is exactly what we need.”
How will you extract best from your employees? Do you give them independence in work-related decisions?
We have an extremely low attrition rate in large part because we run our company very much like a sports team. Everyone has a clear position and function and we work hard to tear down any barriers to getting the job done, regardless of what it is. We all work together towards a common goal -customer success. This focus has netted tyGraph a +95% customer retention statistic based on year-over-year renewals.
Employees should be inspired to work and feel there are opportunities to grow in their careers not solely from a promotion standpoint but in terms of professional development. Do professional development opportunities exist in your company?
We are afforded the luxury of working with state of the art technologies in a rapidly evolving space. Often we work with products in alpha or beta stages and we have had an influence on other company’s product design and feature set. What could be more exciting for ‘a bunch of geeks’?
What are the factors that help your organization grow persistently?
It’s one thing to be able to understand what a customer wants, but being able to commercialize that vision into a scalable product takes a high degree of engineering and ingenuity. We’ve assembled a team of professionals that can do just that. Having a really good product reduces that load on our operations team and greatly enhances our ability to close new business.
Any new product/service release into the market recently?
We have just released our latest version of tyGraph for SharePoint and we’re excited about the feedback we’ve received from our pilot customers. Of course, the game changers will come with the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies. We’ve been working with ML for some time on our tyGraph for Twitter product. Taking the plethora of data emanating from the many systems that we connect with and applying AI algorithms could create opportunities that we can’t even imagine today.
A brief backdrop of the dignitaries
Edward Senez, President, and Co-Founder: Senez holds a Bachelor of Economics Degree and has evolved UnlimitedViz from a Systems Integrator (SI) to an award-winning SaaS-based Independent Software Vendor (ISV) 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 recognized worldwide as a keynote speaker in the Business Intelligence community and keeps the company on the forefront of emerging technology.
Dean Swann, Director of Product: Swann holds degrees in Psychology and Information Systems. He was instrumental in bringing tyGraph to market. A specialist in both social collaboration and digital transformation, he has been an invited speaker at conferences like Microsoft Ignite.
“tyGraph was successful because we brought our customers along for the journey.”
"We have seasoned professionals who are a lot fun."