As data professionals, our job is to figure out how to communicate our findings to new audiences
MEDIA 7. Thanks for your time! Could you please tell us about your professional experience of around 15 years and how it has helped you play your current role at Mode?
GAURAV REWARI: My entry into the business analytics field was quite unplanned. After completing my master’s degree, I finished up my coursework for a doctorate in electrical engineering and decided to take a 1-year break to work in the industry before returning to finish up my thesis. At the time, my interest was in signal processing and control systems and applying these techniques to things like detection of saccadic motion of eyes useful for applications such as monitoring recovery in stroke patients and drowsiness in train operators. But, almost on a whim, I decided that it might be fun to try something completely different and I joined a small business analytics company started by some MIT alumni a few years senior to me. The company, called MicroStrategy, was building decision support systems on top of consolidated data sets, or data warehouses as they came to be called. I ended up greatly enjoying the experience: the company was in an exciting growth phase, we were bringing innovative products to market, and I made some wonderful friends. I decided to push off my plans to return to academia by one more year. And then another, and another. And that N+1 sequence never really ended, so here I am.
I was an early employee and the first product manager at MicroStrategy, where I became part of an executive management team that launched some of the BI industry’s category-defining products, and helped grow MicroStrategy from single-digit millions in revenue through its IPO and beyond. After that, I co-founded two leading SaaS analytics startups: FirstRain, a venture-backed leader in SaaS search-based market intelligence; and Numerify, a leader in SaaS Business Analytics that was acquired by Digital.ai. In between those companies, I served as VP of product management at Oracle for its $2.5 Billion Analytics business, which included the Hyperion, Oracle Business Intelligence and Siebel Analytics product lines.
In my current role as CEO of Mode Analytics, the most comprehensive platform for collaborative Business Intelligence and Interactive Data Science, I am focused on leading the company through its next phase of rapid growth.
M7: Could you please give our readers an insight into Mode? What are the core values that drive the company to be one of the leaders in the data analytics industry?
GR: Mode Analytics was co-founded by Derek Steer, Benn Stancil and Josh Ferguson, for the purpose of helping organizations make better decisions. All three co-founders are great at solving complex problems through the use of data. They met while working at Yammer, where they were asked to build new tools that would allow a deeper understanding of the business dynamics, and quickly recognized that data scientists at other companies were experiencing a similar need. Consequently, they decided to start Mode and introduce a collaborative Business Intelligence (BI) platform built by data scientists for data scientists. A lot of things can be conveyed by a name. “Mode” isn’t just a statistical term, it also has the connotation of “a common way of doing things.” One of the reasons I joined is because it was clear to me from the start that Mode has always been about people — our customers, as well as each other — collaborating and working as a team. Today, there are organizations using Mode to help fight COVID, bring internet access to schools, and further many other worthy causes.
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I would describe digital transformation as really being about activating digital channels to engage with customers, partners and employees
M7: Mode recently launched their brand-new visualization tool Visual Explorer. How does it help analysts to make the exploratory process faster and easier?
GR: As data professionals, our job is to figure out how to communicate our findings to new audiences. We know our co-workers should be interested in our data since it contains information that can help them excel in their jobs. But in most companies, data is not always presented in ways that are simple to interpret. Some people can quickly grasp numbers in spreadsheets, but others cannot. Some prefer simple charts that tell a clear narrative, and others want more complex visualizations that draw them in. People see and understand data differently, and what might be obvious to one person might not be evident to someone else.
To cater to this diversity of information consumption preferences, we recently introduced Visual Explorer, a new flexible visualization system, back-ended by Helix, our award-winning responsive data engine, that helps analysts and business stakeholders to visualize and communicate the insights they have uncovered in extremely powerful and effective ways. Building upon Mode’s unique ability to combine BI and Data Science, Visual Explorer brings together the workflows of analysts and business users in a way that has never been done before. This capability is critical to answering questions quickly and advancing knowledge across the organization, and the early adoption of this has been very exciting to see.
M7: What is your approach towards driving business growth for the customer and what are the strategies you follow?
GR: In businesses that are undergoing digital transformation or are digital natives, a central theme of strategy is to use data to make rapid strategic business decisions. Our primary contact with new customers is usually with the data team, and with skilled analysts across the organizations, we serve. In most modern, digitized businesses, data teams are critical in defining and driving business growth metrics. Our methodology is to provide an agile, collaborative environment for analysts and data scientists to share their work with business stakeholders throughout their organizations. From there, we typically see business users start to adopt our platform, as well. We have a rapid onboarding process for new customers and our Customer Success team works closely with our new customer contacts to ensure that the use of our platform is creating tangible and sustainable business value
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When it comes to digital transformation enterprises need to be very clear about the outcomes they wish to realize
M7: What do you think is essential to stay competitive in a market that is going through constant digitalization?
GR: I would describe digital transformation as really being about activating digital channels to engage with customers, partners and employees. This involves the implementation of new technologies, talent and processes as part of a company-wide initiative typically led by the CEO working with CIOs, CHROs and functional leaders. The investments being made in digital transformation are nothing short of staggering: reaching $6.8 trillion by 2023, per IDC, and all for good reasons: increasing productivity and operational efficiency, improving business agility and consumer engagement. When it comes to digital transformation enterprises need to be very clear about the outcomes they wish to realize. The recent work of Dr Jeanne Ross of MIT’s Sloan School of Management is particularly relevant here. She points out that while optimizing existing business models is important to achieve greater scale and efficiency, to maximize customer value one needs to transform and reinvent the existing business to a new one through rapid innovation. It’s the difference between becoming a digitized business versus a digital business.
On a practical level, for traditional companies, digital transformation could translate to consumer-grade mobile applications, new eCommerce platforms and other digital products geared towards opening up new revenue streams. This puts software development, and the ability to move as quickly as a software company, at the core of the digital transformation challenge for traditional companies.
M7: What is your marketing mantra to stand out in an overly saturated Technology space?
GR: As an analytics company, we believe that it is important to use data signals wherever possible to drive our business decisions. We also believe that it is critical to put our customers at the centre of everything we do. So, our mantra is to combine data with the customer's voice in order to create the best product and the best user experience.