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Oct 13, 2020

Quick, everyone get your act together, we've got a bigwig coming through: Joe Phelan, former CEO of DHL Global Mail and Swissport North America, and now (among other things) Chief Strategy Adviser at P3. 

We get his valuable C-suite perspective on a number of topics, including:

  • What is the typical “data diet” for a CEO these days?
  • The tension between good summaries and robust drilldown capability
  • Is the C-suite truly more “in” on data today than previously, or is it all just lip service?
  • Business and IT relations in an increasingly democratized data environment
  • Splicing across siloes, and Power BI’s ability to circumvent the need for data warehousing
  • How COVID’s new normal may very well be here to stay
  • IoT and automation, and how they drive the need for even more BI
  • The parallels between the FP&A mission and the BI mission
  • Robustness versus efficiency in the modern supply chain
  • How “data people” can best contribute value to leadership – and get recognized for it


Joe Phelan in Supply And Demand Chain Executive Magazine

Episode Transcript:

Rob Collie (00:00:00):
Hello, data people. For our third episode, we get a glimpse into the inner workings of the C-suite because we brought in a ringer. Joe Phelan has held the titles of CEO, COO and even CMO at some very sizable corporations, organizations with names that you'll recognize, and even if you don't, you've been a customer of them whether you know it or not. So he is not one of those self-proclaimed CEOs on LinkedIn. He's not a CEO in the same sense that I am a CEO. He's a real CEO, the kind of person we think about when someone uses that term. He sits on a number of boards today, and we're fortunate to have him as our chief strategy advisor here at P3. He advises me on growing our business and he helps us with some of our strategic accounts. And of course, he's here to talk about data.

Rob Collie (00:00:45):
Before semi retiring last year, Joe crossed paths with Power BI and he recognized it as a turning point. As you'll hear, that's just not me hyping it up. It's the truth. And some familiar themes definitely emerge in the conversation. I think you'll find those parts totally validating. And it definitely builds confidence to hear that sort of thing from someone like him. But we also made sure to get his advice on how to do things like how to speak data to leadership, how to provide value, how to get noticed. We also talk about supply chain in particular. We talk about FP&A. We talk about the rise of automation and the internet of things and how that drives the need for even more BI and a bunch of other stuff that I hope you find valuable. So let's get to it and you know how it goes. Let's start with that intro music.

Announcer (00:01:33):
Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please?

Announcer (00:01:36):
This is the Raw Data by P3 podcast, with your host Rob Collie and your co-host Thomas LaRock. Find out what the experts at P3 can do for your business, go to Raw Data by P3 is data with the human element.

Rob Collie (00:01:54):
All right. Welcome. Really excited to have you here, Joe.

Joe Phelan (00:01:58):
Yeah, I'm delighted to be here, Rob. Thanks for having me.

Rob Collie (00:02:02):
As one of the intro episodes of this podcast, you're a ringer. We're bringing in a heavy. We don't mess around here on the Raw Data by P3 podcast. Let's speak to that, your ringerhood to get us started. You've had a pretty interesting career. You've been in some very, very, very interesting places. Why don't you give us a little bit of a rundown of where you're coming from?

Joe Phelan (00:02:24):
Sure. And I'll start off with you're much too kind, Rob, but to tell you a little bit about what I've done, I've been in business for about 40 years, in transportation, logistics and business services. And 25 years was with American Airlines in various capacities, including global VP of cargo operations and managing director of Europe where I was based in London. I was CEO for DHL GLOBALMAIL with operations in 200 plus countries based in Bonn, Germany. That was a great experience. And CEO for Sunbelt Rentals, the second largest equipment rental company based in the US with over 400 outlets in North America, primarily construction equipment rental, and mom-and-pop do it yourself type rental.

Joe Phelan (00:03:21):
I retired mid 2019 as the global COO for Swissport International. I'll say I kind of retired because I'm doing some other things now as well. And we provided airport ground handling services for over 800 airlines around the world and airports. And I currently sit on a few boards and I sit as a strategic advisor for PowerPivotPro. So I'm happy to be here with you.

Rob Collie (00:03:54):
All right. First of all, you and I, I mean, we have the same title. You've been CEO a lot places. I'm CEO here at P3. We're basically the same person, right? It's just that you just happen to have had that title at companies that we all know, we all recognize. I mean, even Swissport, most people probably don't recognize Swissport, but you don't really go through an airport without Swissport being involved behind the scenes, isn't that right?

Joe Phelan (00:04:23):
That's correct. I mean, a lot of the employees at many of the large airports are Swissport employees. You just don't know it because they're wearing the airlines uniforms.

Rob Collie (00:04:34):
Oh, yeah. Hadn't even thought about that particular angle. And so you said that at Swissport you served and worked with 800 airlines. Today would that number still be 800? It seems like we might be losing some airlines.

Joe Phelan (00:04:46):
Yeah. I mean, I'm not as close to the business as I was, but I think we can all be rest assured that the number of airlines has turned down quite a bit.

Rob Collie (00:04:54):
One of the things that you said at the end there which of course is in some ways my favorite part of your intro is that you're chief strategy advisor here at P3. This is in the industry what we would call you're a really good get. Why was that interesting to you? Why was that an interesting thing? Your background, it's next level. I don't get to rub shoulders with people like you very often. And I did back in the software world. I'm sure that everyone listening to this that's the question on their mind as well. What brings you to having a role with us at all? And this is a data podcast, why we got you? What got you interested in all of this?

Joe Phelan (00:05:35):
Well, it started quite some time ago. I've always been a big believer of information and the power of information and the value in empowering employees by providing the best possible tools. And I'm a believer that most employees want to do a good job for the company. And when provided a sense of direction and vision and the proper tools, they will excel beyond your imagination. So most people want to do a good job. Information to me is fun and that's why I was intrigued when you and I first talked about the opportunity.

Joe Phelan (00:06:21):
And I see tremendous benefits in business intelligence and in particularly Power BI because I've been a user in the past and I really enjoyed using the tools. And I think there's a great deal of untapped opportunity in this space as well. Several years ago I challenged a group of executives working for me to deliver real time information that could be accessed at various times throughout the day, giving us a view of performance across various departments, which included sales, operations, finance, and finance included accounts receivable, DSO by customer and customer service.

Joe Phelan (00:07:13):
And one specific department rose to the challenge and came up with a solution by using Power BI. And they produce some dashboards showing our performance relative to the KPIs that we set as an organization. With believe it or not, hourly updates that could be pushed or pulled to the users and drill down capabilities to satisfy whatever level of appetite you might have for information. And so this was created literally in just a few weeks, which I was amazed and what's even more amazing to me now is we can do it in a few days with the technological improvements that have been made.

Joe Phelan (00:08:01):
So this was so powerful. We ended up implementing across the company in every department and created a corporate consolidated dashboard. And the return on this invest which I was always interested in whenever we made these types of investments was extraordinary. Literally within a few months we recaptured our entire investment and the business was now spending much more time on process improvements versus gathering data.

Rob Collie (00:08:33):
Now, as a long time C-suite veteran, this wasn't your first brush with BI. It was just your first brush with Power BI. Can you speak at all to the contrast, what was BI like from your seat before that?

Joe Phelan (00:08:50):
It was pretty powerful, but not as powerful as Power BI. Power BI I think gave us better access to and more user friendly access to dashboards. And the cool thing about dashboards is we could drill down into key KPIs at virtually every department and get to the root of a problem. And this would allow much more time to be spent coming up with process improvements versus compiling data. So the dashboard would behind the scenes very rapidly access various data sources behind each of the KPIs. So depending on your level in the company and your appetite for quantity of information, you could continue to drill down and access what might be most relevant for you as a user.

Rob Collie (00:09:52):
So before this Power BI dashboard project that you're talking about, before that, in that same role, what was your daily regime of data consumption? What did it look like by contrast? What were you looking at ahead of time? Were you looking at spreadsheets? Were you looking at reports coming straight out of IT?

Joe Phelan (00:10:13):
Yeah. Typically the reports I would look at would be on a weekly basis or a monthly basis. They could be Excel spreadsheets or tables and the information or the data wouldn't really lead you to what I would call information, usable information and would require a lot more digging and compiling to get to the root of the issue. So as an example, as the CEO I might want to just see on a dashboard under the new environment a green, yellow, or red traffic light for each KPI. I'm not really interested in all of the information leading to why it was red, green, or yellow. And so if we take a weekly sales report by key account, if it showed red as the CEO in a meeting, the executive committee would ask, "What's going on?"

Joe Phelan (00:11:27):
And if I wanted to I could click as the CEO and drill down into the information, but more often than not the sales executive having access to that report knew ahead of time that the question would be asked and had already drilled down and had the answer. And so that's the beauty I think of the tool, is it gives visibility to all levels in the organization of the performance, and it helps you anticipate problems or questions and come up a lot more quickly with solutions to those problems, to those issues.

Rob Collie (00:12:07):
So many fascinating things to me in what you just related. So first of all, let the record state that the C-suite at some of the biggest companies in the world still is being handed spreadsheets on a weekly or monthly basis. And these are organizations with a lot of resources. Is not that they don't have BI. There is a BI department, maybe multiple BI departments, and yet it's still so often a spreadsheet. And not only is it a spreadsheet, which is just funny in a way, right? And it's not uncommon. This is everywhere. Spreadsheets still to this day, they still 100% run the world. And we're just in the earliest, earliest stages of evolving. But you also said that these were weekly or monthly. And so now we get into a real inefficiency here. Because they're spreadsheets they were taking a lot of human effort to compile.

Rob Collie (00:13:12):
And while you can't burn that amount of effort on an hourly basis, you can really only afford to allocate that kind of labor on a slower, less frequent rhythm. On the other side you're talking about Power BI and how it was running multiple times a day and you were able to... So when you say real time, I mean, it goes from weekly or monthly down to multiple times a day. I mean, that was actually one of my questions for you, was what does real time mean to you? That is a dramatic difference in frequency.

Rob Collie (00:13:46):
So even if what you were getting, those spreadsheets, even if they were perfect and they told you exactly what you wanted, the fact that you were getting them only weekly or monthly means that you're always looking in the rear view mirror. You're finding out things when it's in the sense almost... The opportunity to improve in many cases has already passed, or it feels like diminishing returns because you're never sure if you're going to be faced exactly with those sorts of conditions again, right? Whereas if you're [inaudible 00:14:16] more in real time you have an opportunity to head things off. Is that what it means to you? In real time, is that-

Joe Phelan (00:14:22):
Absolutely. The old business intelligence environment, you were looking in the rear view mirror and the information was so old. You might lose customers in the process of gathering information. And the cool thing about Power BI that I liked is we refreshed every hour. So every hour on a daily basis we were getting fresh information about whatever department it was that we were interested in. And what used to be really frustrating to me is to get a call from a customer and the customer tell me what his performance was. I was interested to hear from the customer, but I should know when the customer calls what the performance is.

Joe Phelan (00:15:15):
So if I've got a message to call a customer back under the Power BI environment, I could pull up real time information about what's going on with that customer and proactively then deal with the issue. So I can start off with an apology, "I see that we delayed your flight or your shipment today, and here's what we're doing about it," rather than hearing from the customer first and then you're on your back foot. You're on the defense.

Rob Collie (00:15:47):
Yeah. Yeah. I can absolutely see that.

Joe Phelan (00:15:50):
And I might just add the customer really appreciates that as well, because they feel like you've got a good handle on their business and what it is that you're doing for them, the service you're providing. I think the worst thing is for the customer to have to tell you and you're surprised.

Rob Collie (00:16:10):
Another thing that we were talking about that you mentioned about the spreadsheets that you were getting was that you were almost drowning in data rather that having actual information. This is a mistake that analysts and people who are good at these tools... It's a mistake that we, I think pretty frequently make, is assuming that there's exactly the same level of curiosity, exactly the same level of excitement at the next level up or multiple levels up the org chart from us. We're expecting everyone to be just like us. And so we'll very often take the data that's at our fingertips or that we can access us and we'll produce something... In a way is almost like about us. It's about my world.

Rob Collie (00:17:01):
And then on the other hand you said, "Sometimes all I want to see at the top level is a red, yellow, green. Is there even anything for me to drill into? I don't want to drill into everything just to find out red, yellow, green. I just want to know where our problem spots are and then I can focus attention." There's an interesting cynicism that develops here, down amongst the data people when it comes to executives in that there's a joke, in a way it's like, "Oh, no, the executives, all they really want to see is a big meatball of color like red, yellow, or green. That's all they ever want to see."

Rob Collie (00:17:36):
Or this morphs into another misunderstanding, which is... I guess this is true sometimes, but most of the time it's not, that, "Oh, no, the executives really only want it to look good." I think this is just really just a misunderstanding, a misinterpretation of signals. And it comes back to one of the things we talk about a lot, which is when you're building dashboards, you're building reports of any sort, you're really building software. You're building an application. You're not just publishing data. You're building software.

Rob Collie (00:18:10):
At Microsoft when we were building software, as much as we could, we tried to understand who was going to be using it, tried to walk in their shoes. And it's hard. It's hard for someone to walk in the shoes of the C-suite, even if we really want to. You have to start with wanting to and understanding what your day looks like. I know we're jumping around a little bit here, but can we talk a little bit about that? What would be ideal for you as an executive? What would be the advice you would give to people who are building dashboards or reports that are going to make it to someone like you?

Joe Phelan (00:18:51):
What I would want in an organization is my executives to have access each morning to information about yesterday's operation and for them to be able to access in each of the departments information on an hourly basis during the day if they need it, if they have an appetite. But as a minimum, to be able to start their day knowing what yesterday looked like and what is forecasted for today from an operating standpoint. And that could be true for just about any department. So having access to information real time and really understanding what's driving the organization in terms of key KPIs I think is extremely important.

Joe Phelan (00:19:53):
And what was always important to me was our having transparency in the organization. And so open and honest transparency. And I think that's what information does for you, is it helps make the organization much transparent and provides then the motivation for the team to act in a more proactive way. I don't necessarily want to know as a C-suite member, want to know all the details of a problem. What I'm more interested in is what are you going to do to resolve the issue? So I'm mostly interested in the fact that you've identified the issue and you have a solution that you're ready to employ to solve the problem.

Thomas LaRock (00:20:51):
I've never been a CEO, but I'm willing to try if some of these wants to take a chance, but when it comes to those dashboards, I've helped provide the data for these dashboards. But what I see often is what I call the dashboard danger or danger of the dashboard in general. You two have talked about a little bit already. You talked about the red, the yellow, the greens, and you talked about addressing the issues and knowing the problems. But here's why I usually push back on, so Joe, your executives show up and you said that dashboard should tell them what things look like yesterday and everything's green. And I would then push to you and say, do you know why it's green? Do you know why you're being successful? Do you know why? Do you have that data as well?

Thomas LaRock (00:21:35):
Because when I was coaching basketball all those years ago in my other life, when you were having success, you had to know why you were being successful, otherwise you really didn't have that advantage or that edge. So I would push back. When we talk about these dashboards, I don't see that often enough. I see people, they put their metrics in, they have their KPIs, everything's green, but there's also a level of greenness, right? Sales is doing good, so they're hitting their number. They beat it by 1%, but they could have been 10%. You don't really know the because you may never click on that little green light.

Joe Phelan (00:22:11):
Yeah. That's an excellent point, Tom. And you'd be a good CEO because that-

Thomas LaRock (00:22:16):
Hold on. I'm updating my LinkedIn right now. Hold on.

Joe Phelan (00:22:19):
I think just not accepting the data is green is important and I think great organizations want know why it's green, but also want to test and drill down in the green a little bit, because what you'll find within the green is the average has come out to be green, but there are some spots within that particular area you're measuring that aren't green and need some continuous improvement. And so that's the value of drilling down. And I think most CEOs will not just accept that... It's most good CEOs, will not just accept that it's green.

Joe Phelan (00:23:04):
They will in fact drill down a bit to try to understand where the weak spots are, because as the old saying is, is you're only as strong as your weakest link. You need to be mindful of the weakest links, understand what's driving the good performance and see if that's applicable to other areas of the organization as well so that you create a learning environment and you learn from each other. That's a good point, Tom.

Thomas LaRock (00:23:36):
Thank you. I'm making note of all the good points I have on this podcast-

Joe Phelan (00:23:39):
We'll keep score.

Thomas LaRock (00:23:40):
... for my review later at the end of the year with Rob. So that's one.

Rob Collie (00:23:45):
Yeah. Well, Tom, just like Joe Joe said, I mean, your overall indicator can be green, but there can still be a lot of places where you need to work.

Thomas LaRock (00:23:53):
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I know. I can't fake it with a dashboard for you. I get that. Yeah.

Rob Collie (00:24:01):
I think you're doing a great job, Tom, just so you know.

Thomas LaRock (00:24:03):
Again, going on my LinkedIn.

Rob Collie (00:24:07):
I'd like to continue to role play a little bit on my end. I won't ask you to role play anything. You just get to be you, Joe. [crosstalk 00:24:15]. Continuing this cynicism in a way, so when we started off and you were talking about your sincere interest and your authentic experience with using data and seeing Power BI and turning it into an advantage, turning it into very clear ROI. And sometimes the people in this line of work might not believe that that's true, meaning they don't necessarily get a lot of reinforcement that filters down to them, that the C-suite actually truly sees the value in it.

Rob Collie (00:24:53):
So it's almost like I want to ask you and so I will, how unusual do you think your stance is? Are there still a lot of the real old fashion CEOs out there that, again, the cynics amongst us are expecting to say, "Ah, I don't need no stinking data. I know how to run a business. I know what's going on"? That is a bit of a caricature that does exist. It doesn't mean that it's correct, but there's reasons why that caricature exists at certain levels of the organization.

Joe Phelan (00:25:31):
I think, Rob, the C-suite today is much different than it was years ago. It's comprised more of individuals, I think with strong communication skills, strong collaboration skills, the ability to create teams and the mindset for an open environment. It used to be information was power and amongst the C-suite it wouldn't be shared because it gave you as an individual an advantage within the team. But it's very different today. I think the environment is very open. It's more collaborative. I think people value working as a team because they recognize that it brings one plus one equals three, it brings the team working together, allows you to create success a lot more rapidly.

Joe Phelan (00:26:28):
There's a lot more receptivity today to providing employees with real time, meaning information as a result, is it gets back to that notion that I mentioned earlier, that if equipped with information and employees, frontline employees understand the direction, they'll excel and they'll perform extremely well for you. You just have to have the courage to give them the information that they need. So, yeah, I think we provide solutions for improved business performance throughout the organization by simply making I think information available in a real time basis.

Rob Collie (00:27:17):
It's good to hear that that's happening increasingly at the highest levels. That's a very encouraging trend. I got to admit, I haven't worked at a large corporation for a full decade now. I know what it's like with our clients, but our company, we only really attach at places where they're thinking the right way. We get a very positively skewed sample by virtue of the lens, the filter that gets applied to our client base. So it's really fascinating ongoing curiosity to me, to what extent... When you hear all the hype, data, data, data, data is the new black, you use data for competitive advantage and you can't help but wonder to what extent is this just a platitude that everyone is supposed to repeat, versus how much they've walked the walk.

Joe Phelan (00:28:13):
I think the C-suite today, Rob, recognizes that having real time information gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace. And so the C-suite will wake up very quickly when they realize that they're losing market share or their unit costs are rising faster than a competitor or unit revenue isn't going up as high as a competitor. And so business intelligence I think will continue to be the center for driving business performance in the future. We're much more resilient now than in the past. And if you're not nimble and ready to move at or before the speed of change, you'll simply be left behind in today's business world. Things are moving very, very quickly. And so information powered in the right way and in the hands of the people driving your business will be I think the recipe for success in the future. And I think CEOs in the whole C-suite recognize that much more today that just a few years ago.

Rob Collie (00:29:28):
Well, that certainly paints a bright future for people who are good at data, but also people who are... As you were hinting at even at the C-suite level, it's not enough to be good at data. You have to be good at it. You have to understand the business and you have to be a good communicator. I'd love to get your reaction to this, but I personally believe that the longstanding separation between business and IT, where watching those in a way collapse into each other in some really important fashions. IT still very, very, very much has a role structurally and in terms of governance, but when it comes to BI, they used to also, in addition to those two, infrastructure or governance, right? They also had the role of the creators of all of the sanctioned reports.

Rob Collie (00:30:24):
It's that last part that's antiquated. And that there's a rise of this hybrid, a hybrid professional that's actually anchored in the business side of the house that becomes good at these tools such as Power BI and then in collaboration with IT is able to deliver a quality and a pace of information. It was just never seen before. Does that align with your experience and what you've seen? You talk about this set of Power BI dashboards, was that spearheaded primarily by IT or was it more of that collaborative? Were there people on the business side who actually had hands on the keyboard during the creation process?

Joe Phelan (00:31:05):
No, I think it was more the business side was engaged with Power BI and brought the solutions forward. And that's the beauty I think of Power BI, is most of what an IT organization is doing today in today's world is there's so many mergers and acquisitions. They're putting systems together and trying to rationalize the entire IT infrastructure. And so it was refreshing to me to see the business bring forward, the operations department bring forward a solution to this that didn't really require any IT support.

Joe Phelan (00:31:46):
It required an interested individual within that department to be the go-to and to quickly become the Power BI expert who could then train and get everybody up to speed on how to use the tools. That's the cool thing I think about and why I like Power BI so much is you don't have to rely on a large IT organization to put it into place when they've got many other big, big strategic projects that they are working on. And if you had to wait, it would simply take too long.

Rob Collie (00:32:28):
That's why Excel shows up on your desk every day.

Joe Phelan (00:32:30):

Rob Collie (00:32:32):
If you're waiting, you're just going to get Excel from the business, right?

Joe Phelan (00:32:36):

Thomas LaRock (00:32:38):
Hold on a second. The bottleneck isn't the use of Power BI, Excel, Tableau, any of that. Crystal reports, I don't care. That's not the bottleneck. The bottleneck is the data. The bottleneck is somebody in that organization saying, "Okay, so we got to go build this data warehouse." And these days it's not just a data warehouse. And we've gone beyond data mart. Now I live in a data estate by a data lake. And I shop at the data mart, we store everything in the data warehouse, but it's made by the data factory. And it's just all the data things. So that's always been the bottleneck, is somebody in the organization saying, "I've got a reporting tool, but where am I going to point it at?" Right? So it's great Power BI can come in. It's great you can assign a custodian to be in charge of this and all that, but you're still going to have somebody sitting there going, "I need some data."

Joe Phelan (00:33:25):
Yeah. I mean, you're so right. We're working with a client right now-

Thomas LaRock (00:33:29):

Joe Phelan (00:33:30):
Twice you've been right now. That's good, Tom. We're working with a client now that is expressing that exact issue, is saying, "I'm ready to get going, but we're working on our data warehouse and I want to make sure that I have all the data from all the different systems loaded into that warehouse before we start to execute." And that's the beauty of Power BI. Again, is you don't need to wait to have all the data in the warehouse and have a perfect data warehouse. We can go to each of the systems and extract the data and produce what I would call then information in a very timely manner. But that is an education in itself because it's old IT thinking, and you don't know what you don't know. And it's just people not familiar with Power BI and its capabilities.

Rob Collie (00:34:30):
The software industry absolutely is to blame. People like me in my former job, we're the ones that are to blame for that because we produce an entire generation of tools that made the default assumption. First and foremost, for instance, that all of your data that's interesting is in a database and it's in a single database. So it produced this infrastructure first mindset because the world didn't have a choice. If given a choice, the world probably would've chosen something different, but the software industry said, "No, no, no, no, we're going to do it this way." It's really simple. Power BI just decided, "Hey, we're not going to work that way. We're not going to require that." And the sky didn't fall. In fact things really have taken off, but it's actually two things you were hinting at there though, Tom.

Rob Collie (00:35:23):
I'm going to call them both though. So it's not just access to data. It's not just this former... It used to be you'd build plumbing and then you'd think about faucets years later. Now we say that you can think about it as faucets first and then figure out what the plumbing needs to look like. And that ends up being a lot more efficient. But the other thing is, is that when IT was responsible for building everything, there was also this tremendous subject and domain expertise from the business side that had to be mind meld telepathically transmitted from the business to IT, and then implemented according to that spec. And that turns out to chew almost as much time as the endless infrastructure investment, because boy, that is... It's really hard. There's a lot.

Rob Collie (00:36:12):
The tribal knowledge on the business side, if you could dump it out and print out, it would be like an old encyclopedia Britannica, like lining a whole bookshelf and there's just so much nuance there. And so bringing it within the business to execute, to build shortcuts, all of that, all of that requirements transmission and misunderstanding and mistransmission. And then of course my other favorite point is that even when you write a perfect spec for something, and then you implement that spec perfectly, which by the way, has never happened in human history.

Rob Collie (00:36:49):
We've never had those two things happen in sequence, but even when they do happen, the first thing that happens when the business gets back the report that they just asked for, they go, "Oh, you know what? This doesn't even really answer our question now that we think about it. We need to filter it like this or drill down like that or correct for something, blah, blah, blah." Human beings don't know what they need until they've seen what they've asked for. And so the whole requirements gathering process, which again was inflicted on the industry by the software people, it's just a fools' errand from the start. So it's really, really, really a very different world when you don't have to wait so much on infrastructure and you're unconsciously communicating with yourself armed with all of your own business knowledge as you're executing on something.

Rob Collie (00:37:39):
So Joe, you said that this was a business led initiative. I've got to ask you and I've never asked you this, so what was IT's reaction to having something so valuable be built on the business side? I'll preface this. I'll even make it multiple choice, because everyone's going to be on the same page about this. On one hand, the reality that you describe, it's never been realistic to expect IT to keep up with BI. They're outnumbered tremendously. By definition they don't know everything about that business, the business knowledge. They can't. They have to do their other job. And on top of that they're being saddled with all kinds of things that only they can do.

Rob Collie (00:38:23):
I would want them to be grateful and appreciative and collaborative with this sort of development, but they also could be a little bit threatened. They could be a little bit resentful and I'm sure that the real world spectrum of this, it goes from guardrail to guardrail. There's plenty of examples of either endpoint and all points in between. How did that play out?

Joe Phelan (00:38:45):
Well, I think initially they were suspicious of the solution, but once they found out more about it and how it worked, I think it was quite refreshing for them because they were inundated with projects. Didn't really want to pull away from what they had on their plate. The business had a huge demand and an urgent demand for the information. So for the business to be able to come up with a solution, I think in the end was refreshing for the IT organization and it required very little support. So given the fact that it required very little support, it was welcomed, believe it or not with open arms.

Rob Collie (00:39:35):
Well, that is the way that it's supposed to go. And that's the way that it goes with our clients. We work very hard on that. It is truly a situation where everyone can win. I can understand it though, in the places where IT still feels a little defensive about it. It's not just something's being taken away from them. It's also this weird psychological trick that as long as it's Excel that the business is using, when Excel goes bad, it's generally not IT that's blamed. That's Excel. It doesn't mean that it should be that way, it just is that that's the perception. And then as soon as you use something like Power BI, "Oh, it's got the letters BI in it." So now when that goes sour, people will turn. And IT has one of those unenviable situations where they only get noticed when things go bad.

Rob Collie (00:40:27):
I understand their reluctance to increase their surface area in terms of the things that they might be held responsible for even though they didn't do it. Our governance and adoption program, we've got a really good recipe for this and you just can't play defense against something like this. You have to play offense. And if you do play offense and you set things up the right way from the beginning, you don't really need nearly as much defense. You don't need to be afraid of it. But if you sit back and try to control it and just squeeze it, white-knuckle tight prevent the business from unlocking this Pandora's box, they're going to open it anyway. You're never going to fence in that earthworm. So it's good to hear that.

Joe Phelan (00:41:09):

Rob Collie (00:41:10):
I do want to talk about supply chain of your specialities, but I'm going to throw one more curve at you before we go there. You and I have also talked about FP&A. We've talked about financial planning and analysis. I shared with you my theory that in a lot of ways FP&A is an organic... The existence of FP&A, that's a discipline, is a natural emergent response by the business side of the house to the underserving nature of IT centric BI. Because when I first got to know what FP&A meant and I started meeting people and talking about it, I'm like, "Oh, you do the BI mission. You do what BI was always supposed to be. That's what your charter is." And so I approached you with that theory saying... This rose color glasses theory, this is the new thing. I really found your response to that very intriguing and compelling. Are you willing to share that with us?

Joe Phelan (00:42:17):
Sure, if I can remember what it was. But let me give it a shot. I'll just talk from experience with FP&A and the organizations I've been with in the past, typically FP&A is there to support the CFO and provides the CFO with relevant information about the business for each of the departments. And so will typically sit in meetings, ask questions, gather information. And because they have a limited knowledge about each of the departments, the questions can be sometimes a little insulting to some of the departments and overly elementary. And so that I think causes frustration. It causes a waste of time and energy in the meetings.

Joe Phelan (00:43:18):
And one of the things that intrigued me about Power BI is when it was embraced by FP&A in the organizations I've been in, they would come to the meetings equipped to ask a lot more intelligent questions. And so the time spent in those meetings was a lot more fruitful and they became more team members in the problem solving process and support process for the organization and were respected a great deal more because they were more equipped for those meetings. So I think the overall respect for the FP&A folks was elevated quite a bit. Their overall knowledge of the business and their ability to ask more prudent questions, more meaningful questions in the meetings was much improved. And so overall it was time better spent and allowed us to get to agreed upon actions going forward and delivered a, I think more consistent and more accurate message to the CFO.

Joe Phelan (00:44:34):
And the CFO was really charged with keeping as well as the CEO, the shareholders informed, the investors informed. And so having good, accurate information about how the business was doing was extremely important to the CFO. So overall I think our efficiency as an organization improved quite significantly. The time used to be spent by FP&A, a lot more time used to be spent gathering information and gathering data and very little time on analysis. So Power BI allowed them to spend a lot more time on analysis and coming up with solutions and helping the organization than they were able to do before, because they just simply only had so much bandwidth. And when you're spending all the time gathering data and information, it doesn't leave you much for anything else.

Rob Collie (00:45:32):
Well, I think you remembered your answer from before perfectly.

Joe Phelan (00:45:35):
Is that the way I answered it before?

Rob Collie (00:45:36):
Yeah. And I remember when you first told me that, that first part especially when you said something... Was it along the lines of FP&A is this separate discipline, this separate team, and they're almost like a federal government type of entity? They're going around and they're trying to understand various departments and not doing a great job of it and therefore losing credibility. I started laughing and thinking to myself, "Well, oh, perfect. Yeah, they absolutely inherited the BI mission. That's just like traditional BI. It's the same failures just recast." And of course their tool set was different, right? The FP&A leans very heavily on Excel.

Rob Collie (00:46:18):
In some ways that gives them an agility, but it also gives them a tremendous labor intensive and static view, all the things we've been talking about. Whereas the traditional BI, their failures were more like not even being farther away from the business than FP&A was. And having tools that move at a glacial pace, even though they're great, once you get them built, you just actually never get them built. That's the only problem with traditional BI.

Joe Phelan (00:46:46):
Well, they say the power of being truthful is it's easy to remember what you said last.

Rob Collie (00:46:51):
That's right. That's right. mark Twain said that, something along that. The thing about always telling the truth is you never have to remember anything.

Joe Phelan (00:46:59):

Rob Collie (00:47:03):
All right, supply chain. I am not a supply chain expert. We have some at our company and not just you, but what does even supply chain mean? Does every business have a supply chain?

Joe Phelan (00:47:18):
I think every business in some form or fashion has a supply chain. Whether it's people, resources, or equipment or technology, just about everything that we do in the world today has some sort of supply chain attached to it.

Rob Collie (00:47:35):
We talk also a lot about logistics. Are these two terms basically interchangeable to you or do they mean different things? They seem to have a lot of Venn diagram overlap.

Joe Phelan (00:47:47):
Well, I think supply chain is part of logistics. And so logistics comprised of many different things in which supply chain is a piece of it. And I won't profess to be an expert. I've spent a fair amount of time in the logistics and supply chain business, but I'm not sure I'm a complete expert.

Rob Collie (00:48:14):
Oh, yeah. All you did was make it to CEO. You're right. We're still waiting for your career to blossom.

Joe Phelan (00:48:22):
There's always a chance.

Rob Collie (00:48:24):
Yeah. We're really hoping you pull it together one of these days, Joe. All right. So let's talk about data and the supply chain. And if you want, we can blend COVID in here or we can keep that separate. We can talk about that separately, but data, supply chain, logistics, COVID, go.

Joe Phelan (00:48:47):
Yeah. So let me talk a little bit about the general trends that I see in the short term in response to COVID and how that relates to the supply chain. I think consumers and businesses have become very resilient and are jointly learning to operate in a way that could add significant utility in the future. So what we've been through has resulted in a great deal of learnings and opportunities, I think, although it's been painful. Providing time savings for consumers is a commodity that I think carries more value today than it ever has. And we've all grown to learn more about the value of time savings as well. We've grown accustom to spending I think more time at home. That time's been with our families and we've had to adjust in many different ways. We've adjusted our purchasing habits. Many of us have learned to appreciate the time savings associated with online purchasing and delivering goods and services.

Joe Phelan (00:50:01):
Many of us have done that for some time, perhaps not to extreme that we do it today. And some of us haven't done it at all and have been exposed to it, and they've said, "Wow, this is really cool." And so I think the most successful businesses in the future will have to better manage all of the data that they have around consumers purchasing habits and turn that data into information that will increase their share of wallet. And so there's a lot of examples where information will help you increase your share of wallet and will help you understand what's driving consumer habits going forward. I think this data will also bring new discoveries for products and services delivered to your home when you need them at the right time.

Joe Phelan (00:50:58):
And so you will get the product without having to ask for it because the information leads to the conclusion that now is the time. And so that in itself I think will be pretty powerful. And some may argue, Rob, that this is all temporary adjustment. Dining restaurants will open full again and movie theaters and malls will all open back up and grocery stores will get back to normal. However, I think there's a high probability that many consumers like the change that has occurred. They like the change to their purchasing habits and will opt for these different options in the future, drive up for pickup of your groceries, delivery of your groceries to your door, classrooms will also look very different in the future with online delivery of education at all levels, distance learning, things like medical appointments. I don't know about you, but I'm afraid to go to the doctor's office.

Rob Collie (00:52:13):

Joe Phelan (00:52:13):
I probably shouldn't be, but I am. I'm afraid to go see the dentist, but with telehealth now and I've used it, you can dial up a doctor and get some really good consultation and advice and you can see the doctor and she or he can see you and prescribe a remedy. And so the way of doing business I don't think it's temporary. I think we've had some setbacks. We've made some adjustments, but a lot of what has happened as a result I think will stick for some time to come. And so with all the previous spending habits changing, a significant shift has already occurred. And as a result of our getting more comfortable with doing things online these past several months, I think we'll see the new... I hate to say the new normal because it's cliche, but there will be a new normal going forward.

Joe Phelan (00:53:18):
And some people still like going to the grocery store and some people still like going to the movie theater and that will continue, but I think some habits will change. All of these have changed rapidly the businesses and the new data that's needed to crunch and understand consumers demands, desires, and purchasing habits will become even more prevalent in the future. So the demand I think for information will continue to excel. Supply channel changes, the consumer purchasing changes, consumer demand changes, all of this will thrive off of the need for new and more real time information. I think businesses will need to be more agile with the data and the information.

Joe Phelan (00:54:15):
Waiting until the end of the quarter or the end of the month or the end of the week will no longer allow you to be as resilient as you need to be as the consumer demands you to keep up daily. And crunching data the old way is too time consuming and too cost prohibitive to be as agile as you need to be to compete in today's world. Today's world is happening today, it's not happening tomorrow and it's not happening yesterday. It's happening today. Businesses will need to access realtime information captured from mounds of data collected throughout the organization across multiple functions to ensure that timely decisions are being made for consumers and automation, I think will play a big part of that going forward.

Joe Phelan (00:55:14):
So all of these IoT devices that we've grown accustomed to use in the past, we'll continue to use in the future, but they'll be aided with more real time and relevant information as we go forward. So they'll become an even more important part of our lives I think going forward. It's a long answer, but there's a lot going on there I think.

Rob Collie (00:55:43):
Well, true or false, in my household we have IoT cat feeders.

Joe Phelan (00:55:50):
[crosstalk 00:55:50]. True.

Rob Collie (00:55:54):
True. We have IoT cat feeders. And speaking to the logistics and all that kind of stuff, we ordered new dishes for these boutique IoT cat feeders, and the dishes arrived the next day. It's just unbelievable.

Joe Phelan (00:56:12):
That's called Amazon Prime.

Rob Collie (00:56:14):
It is. It is. Yeah. When you said, Joe, that you think a lot of these changes are going to stick more than people expect, I think one of the things we almost always implicitly underestimate is the impact of shifts in investment on these sorts of things. So for example, I remember... I guess it was two years ago, maybe it was more, I don't remember really, but OPEC decided to just dump a bunch of oil on the market to drive the price way down. And their goal was to crush the domestic United States shale oil industry. Drive the price of oil down to a point where it wasn't profitable to extract from shale.

Rob Collie (00:56:58):
And my first blush thought was, "Well, that's just silly," right? Because as soon as they put the price back up to where OPEC wants it to be, it'll be profitable to do shale again, but it'll temporarily wipe out all the investors and the infrastructure and equipment. And maybe it's a very expensive business and it's going to drive the price of investment higher in the future because it's been proven to be risky. And I was like, "Oh." Once I connected those dots I was like, "Oh, this is three dimensional chess." And so there's no OPEC that released COVID on us. It's not a 5G bill gates conspiracy, but it still has some of that same sort of effect.

Rob Collie (00:57:44):
Even if you're just a small regional bank, you're going to be less inclined to provide a small business loan for a new in-person restaurant going forward than you used to be. You're going to be more likely to fund the carryout joint. And so even if the pandemic passes and we don't get another one immediately on its heels and people's short memories start to... There's still this smart allocation of investment and those people have longer memories because they have to. That's their whole job. And so I think there's a durability to this trend that's going to be enforced by the financial community. And even if the rest of us decide, "No, let's go back to normal," it's still going to be just more expensive to launch a brick and mortar sit down restaurant than it used to be, for example.

Joe Phelan (00:58:42):
It'll change. I think you won't see a traditional perhaps brick and mortar restaurant like we've seen in the past. There's many restaurants that I've seen that have done fairly well through this crisis because they were able to very rapidly change their model. And so knowing that they were going to be shut down for a while or they would be back open with a lot less capacity, they turned a lot of their business to dine out and very quickly adjusted with their staff and with their consumer base and reaching out to the consumer base and advising them of the new business, "This is how we operate now. We still have the same products, the same good food, but we'll bring it to you or you can come curbside and pick it up." Making those adjustments real time and quickly is extremely important for any business.

Rob Collie (00:59:52):
Yeah, totally. So let's get back to supply chain because I actually know just enough to be dangerous here. I mean, we have a number of clients that we work with who in response, not to the pandemic, the disease itself, but more in response to the financial fallout, the financial crisis related to it, the collapse in demand in a lot of sectors, we see a lot of inventory reduction projects. Inventory reduction really it's just like a one time savings for a company. If we temporarily stop making new stuff and allow our warehouse to halfway empty, then we're making revenue on that stuff, but we're not spending as much as we normally would. We don't have to replace it. So we allow ourselves to get a little thinner in reserve. And so that's a pretty time honored tradition during downturns.

Rob Collie (01:00:45):
And it's been really, really gratifying to see how much help we can be in that space. We can really help drive it because sometimes it's hard to change old habits. And so having good dashboards to track all of that, it really makes a huge difference. We even have a case study that I can't talk about yet because it hasn't been finally approved, but a really, really cool case study on exactly this. We also have experience with the other side of this equation, which is the demand shock in the other direction and the supply shock. So we have another client who before COVID put a monstrous order in as they do every year from China for a crucial component of what they manufacture. They always do that because of the Chinese new year.

Rob Collie (01:01:30):
And they know there's going to be an outage in supply and it turned out there was a huge outage in supply this year when COVID ravaged China. And it just happened to be timed just right so that they were sitting on a good supply. They were stocked up and able to produce a bunch of product when COVID caused their sales to go up tremendously. Actually COVID influenced their sales in the positive direction. And if they hadn't had this lucky chance that they had just stocked up on a bunch of supply, they would've been unable to take advantage of the demand. And if their competitors had been able to step into that void, they might have actually experienced a permanent loss of stature in their market.

Rob Collie (01:02:15):
So there's these two opposite tensions in a way. There's this insulation against the black swan outage, where you actually need more inventory. And then there's the traditional desire to reduce inventory in response to a financial crisis. And I don't really have a question here to be perfectly honest. I just find this to be a fascinating tension and want to know if you had any thoughts on it.

Joe Phelan (01:02:39):
A lot of businesses, big businesses have traditionally gravitated to one supplier for a product or a component because it allowed them to get the unit cost down for that product. So ordering larger quantities gets you to a lower unit price. But the cost of logistics when things don't go well can be quite significant. So I think a lot of companies now are moving more towards having geographically more suppliers. And so there may be a supplier in China, there may be one in Latin America and there may be one in Europe that you use and your costs for producing those components might be a little bit higher, but you're able to then leverage the supply chain either during downturns or times when things are extremely good in a more productive way. So I think many businesses are reevaluating their stance on that and their procurement habits and are making different decisions based on what they've witnessed particularly over the last several months.

Rob Collie (01:04:10):
Yeah. One of the things that I've seen many times over the years now is that whenever the world changes, whether for good or bad, positive or negative, it immediately invalidates all of the tribal roadmaps that have been developed over time in terms of trial and error. And maybe those roadmaps really weren't all that good to begin with. A lot of times when you poke at them you discover that they really weren't as good as everybody thought. So sometimes it's a blessing that everyone comes to this realization that we can't trust that roadmap anymore. And so the need for good analysis, the need for good information, the ability to see through all of the noise, to see the forest for the trees, there's only a higher premium on that. And this is one of the reasons why our business is actually blessed to be doing quite well during otherwise completely historic, awful situation.

Rob Collie (01:05:08):
But BI has always done this. Even bad BI used to absorb more spending during downturns than it did during "normal good times". And a lot of the things that you've been saying today, in fact without any sort of prompting or pre-planning, I have a blog post and a talk that we're turning into a white paper that's basically 10 things that should be table stakes for your modern data culture. And, Joe, you've just been again, without any leading the witness you've been hitting on so many of the things that we talk about, that like the increased frequency, the ability to drill down. You use the word across a lot. Seeing across different silos of the business. You also talked about mergers and acquisitions and how many modern companies that's how they've been built.

Rob Collie (01:06:04):
And so even if they're operating in parallel spaces, you're still inherently siloed from the get go and being able to see across is a big strength here. And so another thing we wanted to talk about for sure is your recent interview in the Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine. You're part of the cover story. And if we were playing Power BI bingo or a Power BI drinking game for every time you managed to get the words Power BI into that interview and into the pages of this publication, I mean, we'd be living pretty happy at the moment. What did you think about that process? Was that enjoyable?

Joe Phelan (01:06:39):
Yeah, that was fun. I enjoyed the opportunity. It was with a publication called Supply & Demand Chain Executive. It was the September issue. And I think they did a very nice job of discussing how a smarter supply chain is developing as we result of our better using information assisted and various technological solutions. The article is called industrial revolution 4.0, which I thought was a cool title as well. And in that article I emphasized the need to have the right information available at the right place and at the right time. I think the same can apply.

Joe Phelan (01:07:25):
This is the beauty I think of Power BI is whether you're using various IoT devices, geofencing, AI, robotics, drones, RFID sensors or GPS, real time information will always be the key success factor I think for these types of solutions. And smart devices aided with smart information and smart people I think will provide a smarter supply chain and smarter solutions for the consumer. And that's what I tried to emphasize in the article, but there was a number of industry experts quoted in the article and I thought they did a very nice job. It's a good read.

Rob Collie (01:08:11):
And one of the things you mentioned in there that I really liked was as you incorporate more and more automation, more and more devices in your operations, somewhat paradoxically your need for monitoring increases because there's fewer and fewer humans involved. And even though humans are of course their own source of error and imperfection, an automated system can run for a very long time in the dark doing something you don't want it to be doing when there's literally no human being watching it. I find that fascinating as well. So it's basically constant reinforcement that I have chosen the right industry, the data industry, we can all just pat ourselves on the back.

Joe Phelan (01:08:53):
That's called confirmation bias [inaudible 01:08:55].

Rob Collie (01:08:55):
Is it? Is it? Well, I'll tell you what? If I started getting different signals I would've changed jobs.

Joe Phelan (01:09:03):
Well, that makes it legit [crosstalk 01:09:04].

Rob Collie (01:09:05):
At least when I talk my own book I am putting my money where my mouth is. So I think in closing here, we talked about this a little bit earlier on, let's make it a real crisp direct question opposed to a sidelight. What advice do you have for this new breed of modern data professional in terms of becoming more relevant, more noticeable even, more valuable to the C-suite or to leadership and executives in general? What are the advice that you would give someone who's at that point in their career right now?

Joe Phelan (01:09:38):
Wow. When you ask that it brings back memories of my walking by the C-suite early in my career and thinking to myself, "How do I get one of those offices in the future?" The answer I came up with is, "I guess I need to start thinking more like a C-suite person. And if I start thinking and acting more like a C-suite person, maybe I will become one." And so I think the question's relevant from the standpoint that data people should start thinking and acting more like C-suite people. Don't consider yourself just a "data person". Put yourself in their shoes and try to first understand their needs and the needs of the organization, and then use the lingual that they use. What type of lingo does the C-suite use? ROI, return on capital deployed, shareholder value and understand how the solutions you provide will help them accomplish their objectives.

Joe Phelan (01:10:56):
And I think that's how you get at the C-suites attention, is understand what their objectives are and how you can solve those problems by providing solutions. Because I don't necessarily view us as data people. I view us as problem solvers and process improvement engineers and many other things, but we can aid the business in making significant improvement in performance. It's not about creating just a pretty dashboard or gathering data. It's about providing meaningful real time solutions for the organization. So I think that's an old term, data people and I think we need to all start thinking about ourselves as something a little bit different in the future. Whether it's a process improvement engineer or it's strategic enabler engineer or whatever, we need to look at it a little bit differently going forward.

Rob Collie (01:12:10):
Do you hear that, Tom? You are no longer ever allowed to use the term data janitor ever again?

Thomas LaRock (01:12:17):
That was not the takeaway I had from what our guest just said.

Rob Collie (01:12:22):
He said you shouldn't call yourself data people. You're like, "Yeah, so I'll just call myself data fluky." That'll really set the right mindset.

Thomas LaRock (01:12:32):
Data professional. I usually say data professionals and that covers a lot.

Rob Collie (01:12:37):
It does.

Thomas LaRock (01:12:37):
It's your data, [crosstalk 01:12:38], it's your DBAs, your data engineers, your Power BI, but-

Rob Collie (01:12:41):
We stopped talking.

Joe Phelan (01:12:42):
You behaved.

Rob Collie (01:12:45):
Mostly. Mostly behaved. Yeah. We were talking about data janitor and all of that. And I think we probably got a little bit chopped up there. We're okay. I mean, Tom, was just wrong, so it doesn't really matter. We'll just move on.

Joe Phelan (01:13:01):
Yeah. Hopefully-

Thomas LaRock (01:13:02):
Wait a second. Wait a second. Nobody said I was wrong. I'm two for two on the day.

Rob Collie (01:13:09):
I said you were wrong. You're right, my vote doesn't carry the same weight. You're right. I understand.

Thomas LaRock (01:13:16):
How did we go from some great advice to all of a sudden Tom being wrong?

Rob Collie (01:13:21):
I don't know how that happens.

Thomas LaRock (01:13:23):
Oh, as the DBA though, I accept this result.

Rob Collie (01:13:26):
I did want to magnify what Joe was saying, which is... I actually yesterday just started a document. All it's got right now is a title. The working title is the I is for improvement. Sort of like an attempt to rebrand BI, intelligence was the wrong goal.

Thomas LaRock (01:13:44):
I like that.

Rob Collie (01:13:45):
Being informed. Well, those spreadsheets that you're talking about, Joe, that people send to you, that's checking the check box of informed as far as they're concerned. And when you talk about thinking like the C-suite, you've got to work backwards from improvement. And it's really, really, really interesting. You'd think on the surface that if you work forwards from the data and think about what you can do with the data and what you can present from the data and then put that out there versus if you work backwards from...

Rob Collie (01:14:18):
Don't even think about the data first. Work backwards from asking what can the organization do to improve and then go looking for data and building a solution that's completely the inverse of what "data people"... Their first instinct is to go the other way. To go data forward rather than improvement backwards. And the Microsoft stack has really planned in advance for this. They call it the Power Platform now because it's not just Power BI, it's also Power Automate and Power Apps. And the idea is that you should create positive action loops in your business that drive improvement.

Rob Collie (01:14:58):
I got to give them credit. Microsoft has already positioned themselves for the next fight. I think that within the next few years people like Gartner will be evaluating BI vendors not just on their ability to build the right kinds of reports and things like that, which has been most of the criteria. They will start adding the integration of action like why do I have to leave my dashboard? If I've got a conclusion about a change that I need to make, why do I need to leave the dashboard to do that? Why is it so disconnected? Why can't there be a button right there next to that store? We need to increase their share of product X or something like that. Why can't I at least contextually have a jumping off point there to go and take that action?

Rob Collie (01:15:45):
And having that mindset of embedding those kinds of action, taking verbs in the reports also helps really keep you honest when you're building reports, when you're building dashboards with this improvement in mind that they're like, "Oh, if that's part of the dashboard, I can't cognitively let it out of my head. It has to be there. It's just as important as the charts." And I think we're going to see this is the new thing, this is the new mindset and Microsoft has already quietly built the platform that can do this. Even though it's not the thing yet, they're ahead of the market. And I was just, "Oh, yeah, I'm really excited about it."

Joe Phelan (01:16:22):
I think our consultants are really performance improvement consultants.

Rob Collie (01:16:27):
I agree.

Joe Phelan (01:16:27):
So they can provide the tools and information for your business to allow you to improve.

Rob Collie (01:16:35):
Yeah. It's a different breed. Just like we're talking about the future is the hybrid. Our team, it very much reflects that. It's not an accident. This not your father's old mobile. This is not your father's BI consulting team.

Joe Phelan (01:16:52):
Yeah. Agreed.

Rob Collie (01:16:53):
I'm glad that you see that. That's incredibly validating for me and so I appreciate it.

Joe Phelan (01:16:58):
But somehow we need to get, I think that messaging across. That might help with business engagement in the future, is to position... We're getting off topic now, but position the business more as performance improvement consultants than-

Rob Collie (01:17:14):
We also just need to get people to start searching for performance improvement consultants.

Joe Phelan (01:17:18):
Yes. True.

Thomas LaRock (01:17:19):
I got news for you. If people search for performance improvement you guys will never be front page of Google. I'm just telling you.

Joe Phelan (01:17:26):
Oh, I see. I see. Yeah. It's going to be some sort of herbal supplement.

Thomas LaRock (01:17:32):
You will not win that SEO race.

Rob Collie (01:17:36):
You're talking about sports, am I right?

Thomas LaRock (01:17:40):
I'm talking about things that do require endurance from time to time. Yeah.

Joe Phelan (01:17:46):
Great place to stop, right?

Rob Collie (01:17:48):
Oh, it's a fantastic place to stop. Joe, this here has been a real pleasure. Thanks again very much.

Joe Phelan (01:17:53):
You're very welcome and thank you. I really enjoyed it and love the opportunity and hope that we can do it again sometime in the future. But thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Announcer (01:18:03):
Thanks for listening to the Raw Data by P3 podcast. Find out what the experts at P3 can do for your business. Go to Interested in becoming a guest on the show? Email lukep, Have a data day!