CIO100 2017 #31-100: Jeff Feldman, Dexibit
Over the past year through a software as a service offering, startup Dexibit built its strategic big data analytics solution to provide data-driven insights to cultural institutions globally.
CTO Jeff Feldman led the technology strategy from establishing a minimum viable product, through to expanding the vision into artificial intelligence.
“The strategy’s objectives included establishing the initial dashboard, expanding reporting capabilities and building collaboration functions,” he says.
Towards these, Feldman selected a market-leading technology stack, hired a high-performing development team and put in place innovative data science research and agile development programmes; leading by example through developing proof of concept solutions to demonstrate the system’s business potential.
“The ultimate measure of success for the technology strategy has been in the high traction of software sales into the cultural sector with globally relevant brands,” he says.
“Clients have reported significant cost savings through automating data administration and reporting, as well as the ability to discover new insights supporting core business outcomes.”
Within Dexibit, this strategy required him to work in collaboration with the Chief Operations Officer to develop new processes for client onboarding and support for the solution.
The company launched a new Data Concierge service go to market offering and structured a team behind it. The success of this strategic extension provided the inspiration behind the company’s vision into artificial intelligence, in order to perceive and communicate insight beyond its initial ingestion and reporting capabilities and further client outcomes.
As a startup, Dexibit focuses on disruptive innovation, with most of Feldman’s time spent on research and development. The company came about from collaborating with local museums to discover and validate problems limiting key performance indicators applicable to a global market. The team is known for working closely with clients to find data solutions and design for experience.
Whereas most analytics software provides only reporting, Dexibit unique provides added value through visitor behaviour insight, he says.
Make innovation everyone’s responsibility
80/20 innovation rule
Feldman says Dexibit’s culture is built upon innovation, integrity and excellence, with the research and development team directed to balance 80 per cent of their time towards innovation and 20 per cent towards operational achievements.
“The company takes a proactive approach towards development excellence and each development resource is responsible for maintaining a particular quality level for their functional area,” he states.
“As a company experiencing rapid growth, Dexibit’s investment approach for new innovations has been to build a minimum viable product and push this out to the market. This is to validate value and receive feedback, before developing further based on usage, with underused components retired quickly.
Innovation versus maintenance investment levels are balanced by client feedback and customer satisfaction, he says.
“Dexibit also monitors support requests for key areas requiring improvement and instruments user experience, against its own key metrics. For example, the company recently reviewed its onboarding process to decrease the time to retention and implemented a new guided onboarding approach to its Data Concierge service. This saw a a dramatic drop in first-time user support requests.
“This freed support resource to concentrate on improving the overall onboarding facility, resulting in a new user experience design currently in development,” says Feldman.
As a small company, the executive team work closely together. The technology strategy is a priority item for weekly co-founder collaborations, fortnightly brainstorming jam sessions, monthly board updates, quarterly all hands workshops and six-monthly shareholder meetings.
“These sessions create an externally focussed leadership dynamic between the technology vision and client demand from sales or operations officers, whereby new innovations can be validated with new or existing customers, or client requirements brought forth to inspire new solution ideas.
“The executive team collectively manages prioritisation at a roadmap level,” he adds.
“Ultimately, the board provides gentle governance for the company’s balance between tactical traction and strategic opportunity at an investment level.”
For formal company engagement, Dexibit holds quarterly all hands workshops internally and six-monthly shareholder sessions externally, which involve the technology strategy and case studies on how this is resonating with or inspired by the market.
The company also issues monthly newsletters to its customer and business communities, with a regular blog on topical issues, monitoring audience interest via engagement metrics.
“With the immediate development and data teams, Dexibit holds an optional fortnightly brainstorming jam session. This provides a designated free form time slot for any team member to bring new ideas to the table, or to provide feedback on upcoming roadmap developments before specification begins.
“This structure creates team buy in to the roadmap and helps vet design principles or highlight architectural decisions that require close collaboration across the development team,” Feldman says.
He says Dexibit has a proudly diverse team crossing multiple generations from many different nations, and gender balanced. This commitment is driven by the company’s philosophy that innovation requires diversity.
Last year, Dexibit offered three graduate internships in conjunction with Auckland University and Auckland University of Technology and supported by Callaghan Innovation.
Feldman mentored the company’s first data science intern, who secured a graduate role with Dexibit.
For the wider team, Dexibit provides a career development programme and ensures all staff are mentored internally and externally, with weekly check in and feedback sessions focusing on cultural fit and communication skills.
This programme includes training and education time, with some staff learning independently online, attending technology conferences and enrolling in a masters programme. In the development and data teams, each team member is charged with independently leading an innovation initiative alongside their day-to-day work.
He shares three tips for managing the challenges in the digital era.
- Ensure the organisation is externally inspired
- Remain close to the customer
- Make innovation everyone’s responsibility.