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Domo making app development a focus of analytics platform

With a new CEO in place, one of the cloud-based vendor's main goals is to get data into the hands of more business users within the flow of their everyday work.

Analytics vendor Domo has a new leader as it kicks off its virtual user conference on Wednesday.

Josh James, who founded Domo in 2010 and was the vendor's CEO, stepped down on March 2. Three weeks later, John Mellor, who joined Domo in 2019 as chief strategy officer and was named James' replacement, will deliver Domopalooza 2022's keynote address.

In recent years, while continuing to add features and capabilities to its core business intelligence platform, Domo, based in American Fork, Utah, has strongly emphasized embedded analytics. According to Mellor, a major theme of the vendor's user event will be a continued emphasis on application development and delivering analytics to users in the flow of their work.

One of Domo's main goals is to get data and analytics in the hands of as many business workers as possible so they can make data-driven decisions in the flow of their work -- what Domo calls "the last mile of analytics" -- and the vendor views embedded analytics and application development as a means of doing so.

To that end, the vendor plans to unveil new application development capabilities during the conference, according to Mellor, who recently took time to talk about what the vendor has planned for Domopalooza.

In addition to what Domo has planned for its conference, Mellor discussed his new role as CEO, product development plans for the future, current analytics trends and how Domo's plans mesh with what is taking place in the analytics market at large, and whether the vendor, which has not previously been active in mergers and acquisitions, might now explore acquisition targets.

When you joined Domo in 2019, was the plan always that you would be named Josh James' successor whenever he stepped down or did that materialize over time?

John MellorJohn Mellor

John Mellor: You make these plans generally more than you do specifically. I've been at Domo for about three years, and when I joined Domo, I came from Adobe, where I had been for about nine years, and I was at Omniture before that, where I had a lot of interaction with the Domo team. There was a feeling that I knew a lot of the people and was very steeped in the data space.

I've been very interested in data the last couple of decades and that was what we were focused on at Adobe, but it was really in the marketing domain. Adobe was strong in their marketing analytics and their e-commerce, which was exciting. When I left Adobe for Domo, what I realized is Domo had a similar approach but it was cross-organizational, meaning it was marketing, sales, finance, which made it very interesting to me. For all the bluster about digital transformation over the last couple of decades, there hasn't been a delivery on that promise to the rank and file employees.

What was the process of you being named CEO -- was it Josh's decision or was it more of a process?

Mellor: It was a typical corporate process through the board of directors, whom I've known and interacted with over the last few years.

And what has been some of that interaction?

Mellor: I've had my hands on the strategy the last few years -- when I came to Domo, it was to run strategy, and my strategy brain can't function unless it has a tie-in to operations. I'm not one of those people who loves to build presentations or say fancy things without it somehow tying in to what we're going to do in the business. What I saw when I started three years ago was a real opportunity to streamline our go-to-market strategy, which meant how to better explain the value proposition of our platform to the market. A benefit of that is that if you can explain it to the market, you can better explain it to your salespeople. You're essentially building bridges from a great technology to what it does for business impact. It's that kind of bridge that stitches together the market opportunity for Domo, and that's what we've been focused on for the last three years.

If you look at the results for the last two years, you see really strong business performance. The team is executing well, we feel like we're clicking operationally and the market is starting to understand our message.

What is that message? Does Domo have a guiding principle behind the development of its analytics platform?

We want to transform business by putting data to work for everyone. That would be the mission.
John MellorCEO, Domo

Mellor: The way we talk about it is that we want to transform business by putting data to work for everyone. That would be the mission.

What that means is that people inside of an organization are benefiting from data and insights right in the context of their work. It's not just read-only reports coming from a BI team that answer a question that was submitted a couple of weeks ago. This is real, live data in a beautiful application experience in the context of your work. That's what I would describe as 'the last mile,' getting data into the hands of people. And if you go all the way to the start, it's also the first mile of bringing data together. That's where our connector framework allows customers to more quickly ingest the data they need in order to make a decision. Traditional BI and visualizations is the core meat and potatoes of what we do, and it's what people think of when they think of Domo, but it's only one-third of what we do. The first third is how to get data in, and the last third is how to make data usable from an experience standpoint for employees.

How does that guiding principle from Domo fit with what potential users are looking for in an analytics platform?

Mellor: Importantly, we feel like we're on the verge of some pretty major trends where Domo is really well positioned. There's the ongoing explosion of data, but that is counterbalanced by 70% to 80% of people within the enterprise not having access data in a meaningful way to do their jobs. You end up with a last-mile problem, and that last-mile problem is so important. It doesn't matter how much data you have and how well it's organized -- if not getting into the hands of people, it's more strategy than operation.

Domopalooza will mark your first public event as CEO -- what message do you plan to deliver?

Mellor: No pressure, right?

The strategic messages at Domopalooza are going to be around this evolution to applications. It's important to call it an evolution. This is a really natural progression of how the Domo platform was built and how it's being used by customers. We see the traditional, full-stack BI we deliver as very powerful. It's a core part of our business. But in building our platform, we've also built an application framework that sits on top of that platform which is specifically intended to close that last mile. So we're going to talk a lot about the need for action, and how apps equal action. What that means is covering that last mile so that a regional store manager who is on her feet all day actually has data on her tablet or iPhone to make decisions.

There are hundreds of millions of use cases that need to be served with data, and we're right in the sweet spot to make that happen.

Beyond your message, can you give a hint about the new analytics capabilities Domo plans to unveil during the conference?

Mellor: We're really putting a lot of emphasis on the apps toolkit, what we're calling an enterprise toolkit, which is really a jumpstart for enterprise companies to bring together data, workflow and put that into apps. We'll have a lot of energy around that. You'll also see [the announcement of] some relationships with large enterprise software companies where we are working with productivity tools that you and I likely use every day to put that data -- put the power of BI and analytics -- right in the flow that people work in every day. Everything pulls back to putting insights, workflow and data into the hands of and into the location where people do their work every day.

[In addition], we will be debuting several of what we call solution accelerators, which are prebuilt apps that can be put into a retail, manufacturing, marketing, financial services setting. They pull together best practices that we've learned from our customers and internal solution experts to give customers a jumpstart. Of course, their environment will be slightly different than another company’s, but it gets them going in terms of delivering business outcomes. We believe this will decrease [customers'] time-to-value so they're getting more business impact more quickly.

What else can attendees expect to see at Domopalooza?

Mellor: It's going to be exciting to see the customer examples. You'll see companies like O'Reilly Auto Parts talking about how they have transformed the store manager role by putting an app in the hands of the store managers and district managers. They manage retail store performance in a Domo app that shows information for a particular store, can compare and benchmark that against other stores, and it gives the managers the opportunity to write back data into that app so they're putting data in context. It creates a nexus for action to happen.

Domopalooza sets the stage for the next few quarters. We feel like our BI platform is well-situated in our customer base and the exciting next move is going to be around apps. We see this industry trend of making people empowered and accountable with data and putting data right where they work, and you've got to have that data fast. Customers continually ask for speed. They want speed and the ability to leverage their existing systems, and then they will be able to push information and insights to their employees.

As you begin your tenure as CEO of Domo, have you set any company goals?

Mellor: As much as people have asked me what I'm going to change, I tell them that I've had my hands on the strategy for the last three years, and the team around the table has also had its hands on the strategy and execution. Our business results show that strategy is working, so we're not really interested in changing anything. We've put some aggressive goals in front of ourselves for the next few years and I think we're just excited to execute and deliver a lot of value. We think there's tons of opportunity.

There has been a lot of merger-and-acquisition activity in analytics over the past few years, but Domo has essentially stayed out of the fray. As you take over as CEO, might Domo become an active acquirer?

Mellor: We're always open to any kind of acquisition conversations. In tech, you really want to find targets that fit you in a specific, unique way. We're pretty critical at this stage of our development. We look at things across technology enhancements, we look at go-to-market enhancements, and we look at ways to expand the services we offer to customers. We look at all those things, but if I were to state our highest priority right now I'd say it's our execution with the team we have. But we're absolutely open to those kinds of opportunities as they present themselves. The market is a bit crazy. I don't know if there will ever be a time when it won't be that way again. And what I've told the team internally is that what excites me as a leader is that I love simplicity, and I love the focus on execution.

Given the breadth and depth of Domo, we've had the luxury of doing lots of experiments to test a lot of things to see what will work, and I think we're getting signals about what is working, and it's this core value proposition of quickly answering questions to drive revenue and reduce expenses.

Editor's note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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