Since 2011 Quistor has a longstanding partnership with ReportsNow. In order to get you familiar with this company we arranged an interview with Chris Bruce, the president. This article will inform you about their background, their roadmap and their products.
First of all, thank you for joining us! Introduce yourself a bit: your role, your background, your history?
My name is Chris Bruce. I’m the president of ReportsNow.
I used to be a senior developer at JD Edwards. At the time they were creating the JD Edwards EnterpriseOne application version. Back then it was known as OneWorld and, even before that, as Everest.
As some of you might know, EnterpriseOne was the evolution of World to take it to a client server architecture and I was one of the developers.
It was a very dynamic company, at the time still privately owned. Writing quality software and dealing with these immense problems in the ERP environment was very exciting to me.
And so, that’s how I started.
Can you tell us more about your company ReportsNow? Your company has experienced a significant growth over the last couple of years!
The practical problem I set out to address was what I called the “reporting gap” problem.
I had noticed while working at JD Edwards that the ERP system did have RDA, it had various things, but I still saw a HUGE problem in information extraction from JD Edwards by the customers.
The customers had a world of possibilities to enter information: uploads, e-process, manual…thousands of things! But a way to actually organize that information once it was entered did not exist…there was just no solution!
JD Edwards and many other ERP systems still force users to get needed information by spending a massive amount of time and money digging for it. Customers would spend five days of work on what could have been solved within an hour! That was the gap I noticed.
I pondered whether there was a way to close that gap in the software. That was my goal…
When I started solving this issue with ReportsNow, there were two things: one was a vision for a company and the other one was a practical goal.
The vision that I always had was to create a company that, in my mind, served its ideals from the start. I derived those ideals from the teachings from Dr. Deming, and the initial founder of JD Edwards, Ed McVaney, who had a great perspective that I always admired. He actually said that putting the needs of the employees first is the main goal of any successful company.
A lot of people questioned how I could put anyone but the customer first! But if you really think about it, you have to take care of what’s going on internally before you can provide to a customer.
Data Access Studio (DAS) is a great product and much known in the JD Edwards scene. How did you come up with this solution?
So, the first version came out in 2003, and the idea was to have something like Excel but different. Excel takes advantage of cells. I was thinking…why not do it by columns and rows? The outcome turned out to be quite fruitful, because you really could accomplish quite a lot with very few operations and still have the benefit of even getting down to the cell level.
All of this came with a very user friendly environment, where the user doesn’t feel that the tool is too technical. When you do something, you see the result. When I showed this to my first customer, they loved it so much they bought 50 licenses. I thought, “OK well that’s interesting…” And we went with it!
What DAS had done for businesses during the last 14 years is enable business users to dive into data without any IT help. Users can get their own work done fast and autonomously, which is tremendously valuable.
DAS7 came out last year: new features and new interface. What is DAS7 about?
With every release that we do, we try to keep the user interface as consistent as possible with the previous version. DAS7 is similar to version 6 so there isn’t a steep learning curve,, but at the same time we try to evolve the software.
DAS7 came down to dashboards and analytics. When we were planning the next release from 6 to 7, we had about 30 different things in mind. We took the approach that Steve Jobs had at Apple: get the best players on the most important problem. That`s what we did, we focused on a few features and made them outstanding.
So now the dashboards and mobie are the flagship features.
There’s a whole interactive dashboard design experience that truly covers the majority of the data slicing applications that you might have. It’s hard to imagine a much simpler way to produce these statistics and facts. You can have a map and cards, and sparklines…anything you want! That was just technically unfeasible in the past. You can make dashboard interactive, so that you can click and the data is selected dynamically.
Mobie completes the picture by making everything you have done on that dashboard available to any device. Our world is going mobile, so we made you control your reports from your tablet or phone.
We also added Automator, which is a scheduling system with additional Automator servers and queues. There’s better administration, and better error handling and recovery. Now, if you submit things and something fails or JD Edwards goes down, there are more options for its auto recovery.
The other thing we created was a Calculation Editor. It shows the logic paths and debug values. That was a pretty big hit. Now customers can actually see the flow of their calculations.
Another functionality is Publish to Folders. We took it away in DAS6 and a lot of people missed it, so we reintroduced that in 7. When you publish your report you have the option to pick the folder.
The last one is just this huge kind of closing of the loop, CAFEOne one integration. You can actually put the dashboards right in CAFEOne. You select things in the JD Edwards form, the dashboard on that same page updates, and that’s fantastic! It’s so seamless… It looks as if it was created by Oracle, but it wasn’t.
Are you now working on a new release again, is it an ongoing process?
From what I’ve seen, it’s a bottomless pit. There’s always things that the software could do better, and there are always new markets that we could get into. It’s an exercise in picking the directions we want to go, and it’s a combination of how we rate problems, and how our customers rate problems.
One thing I’m very proud of is when I started 14 years ago as the only developer I had a vision of how to develop, and I can happily say we’ve dramatically increased our development staff!
How big is your development team?
We’re 6 now. Six absolute superstars! Steve Jobs used to say: “A handful of good developers can run circles around as a thousand”. It is true!
Last year you announced Mobie, the new product! What is Mobie in a nutshell? How does it work? Why is it so important that you created this product?
There was a need in the market to have content on a mobile device. Mobie is a complete system.
The problem with most other systems we’ve encountered that don’t used Mobie is that there’s about 10 different moving parts that you need to have working in complete synchronization to get your BI system working. In order to solve that problem we control all 10 of those pieces and made the complete embodiment of the BI system: design, analytics, the way you publish it, data warehouse, performance management, the user management and the RO security.
The fact that it works on any mobile device and for multiple websites, and the ability to centrally administer it makes it great! A company might as well throw away million dollars out the window if the software doesn’t have a great visual design which gives a full picture of information. So what Mobie does is relieve the business of that impossible task of getting everything to work together, because Mobie is a complete system. On top of that, it’s an incredibly beautiful system too, which is the other nice thing about it. Dashboards excite people, they tell interesting stories about the data and help in crucial business strategic decisions!
I have seen a tool running on the iPad and that’s, as you said, very impressive! What’s the mission, the differentiator for you in your strategic BI application: DAS?
I always saw Ad Hoc Reporting as strategic. I’ve seen one company and the way it manages its month-end. It had a folder on their Windows Server for every month and that folder contained a subfolder with one hundred Excel spreadsheets. It created a big mess! Everything the company came up with was very random data and findings. Nobody could have predicted anything.
What we try to show our clients, is a better way to do it. Our goal is to continually push the envelope. We always have a bottomless pit. There’s never a moment where we would announce that this is the final development.
What we find is the more we push out there, the more requests we get.
What are the current unique points of DAS and Mobie compared to the competitor products?
It is difficult to compare products objectively without being biased in some way. I would recommend our clients work with partners such as Quistor or look at the community and investigate. Look at the reputation of a company and do a trial.
We do try to make the selection process and costs associated with selection as painless as possible. It’s also a very attractive product from a pricing point of view.
How do you ensure your quality of product innovation for your customers?
Principle of McVaney: make your employees happy… and so we do that in the most genuine way possible. Our team genuinely cares about our customers, each other, and our partners.
And taking care of someone gives a satisfaction of purpose, it makes me, and I believe others, happy – Everyone wins!
And the customer thrives!
Do you carefully look at competitors, what happens to the products, in their markets or are you following your own strategy?
We’re following our own strategy, but there are definitely trends out there that you’re going to have to be on top of.
We like to think we’re creating things. We have the attitude: what is going to make this special? Otherwise… why are we doing it? I believe that motivation drives the innovation.
What type of support can customers expect from ReportsNow?
Customers typically tell us that we are the best of all vendors they have dealt with. And that’s a very rewarding thing to hear! It’s something that our support team really values. The support team is motivated to reply to questions as fast and effectively as possible and, indeed, we respond much faster than our competitors.
Also, companies receive support even BEFORE they buy the software. Our task is to solve a problem, whether the company is still in trial stage or has bought the full service.
Now, you have DAS7 and Mobie, do you have some sort of roadmap in mind for the products?
We do plan to have DAS7.1 ready sometime this year. We aim to solidify the features and timeline at the 2017 Collaborate event in Las Vegas in April. After that will have a better idea of what we’re going to include.
There is going to be a Pro-Report Designer, which is an advanced design for more complicated reports. It gives you a better capability to format things and create rules that make the process of using such a designer more natural.
Perhaps there is something else you want to add? I personally enjoyed our interview! Quistor is happy to have you as a partner!
Quistor has always been an important piece of the puzzle for ReportsNow. Both of us are just a small piece of JD Edwards’ great vision. It gives a great satisfaction to know that there are people who want to contribute to JD Edwards around the globe to make customers’ lives better and easier!
Curious how Ordinary data can give you Extraordinary results? Let’s get in contact.