Raw Data By P3 Adaptive
A Different Kind of Data Emergency, w/ Derek Rickard
Chief Data Officer, Emergency ReportingListen Now:
Derek Rickard has a super cool title, he’s the Chief Data Officer at Emergency Reporting-their software simplifies Fire & EMS reporting and records management, making a positive difference for first responders everywhere. He’s one of the very first people to discover the gamechanger that is PowerPivot back in the day, and it reshaped his entire career. He, like so many other data people, has a want to help others and his story will very likely resonate with a lot of you!
References in this episode:
Rob’s 3 Part Opus on the Relationship Between Power BI and Paginated Reports
2:55 – Derek’s Origin story is founded in Excel and is quite similar to Rob’s, and maybe some of you!
17:40 – A little insight on how Emergency Reporting works with Power BI Embedded, and a debate about in house analytics engine building
44:10 – Power BI’s self-service capabilities and Emergency Reporting, ER a slam-dunk for a case study for MS, Chief Data Officer is quite the title and job description
Rob Collie (00:00:00): Hello, friends. Today's guest is Derek Rickard, chief data officer at Emergency Reporting. In the ever-expanding universe of CXO titles, chief data officer is got to be one of the sexiest. And this does mark the first time that we've had someone on the show with that title, but I'm positive it will not be the last. One of the things that I find tremendously validating about Derek's journey to CDO is that his arc is very similar to the arc of many people listening to this. He comes from a pretty standard, original starting point, which is business, data analyst type work, but he was also one of the first few people, literally, to discover Power Pivot back in 2010.
Rob Collie (00:00:44): And at the very same time that I was kicking the tires and learning my way around DAX and data modeling and the VertiPaq engine, he was doing the exact same thing. And also like me, in the very early going, he was finding immense success with it solving real business problems. Our parallel paths crossed when I was chief technology officer at a company called Pivotstream, where among other things, we launched the world's first cloud-hosted Power Pivot web service. So if you happen to think that the Power BI service of today is the world's first cloud service for publishing and sharing DAX-based reports, think again. We were first in 2010.
Rob Collie (00:01:25): First, of course, is not best, and I'm very glad to be out of that business, but it was fun for a little while. And Derek and the company he represented at the time, well, Derek was one of the first customers of that service. He's done a number of different things since then, including going solo as a freelance consultant. He's survived the evaporation of the company that he worked for at one point in time. And now, as I mentioned, he's chief data officer of a very interesting company.
Rob Collie (00:01:48): And we dive a lot into Power BI Embedded in this conversation, because throughout all of that, Derek has never once left the Power BI related ecosystem. His new company's adoption of Power BI Embedded, I think, is an incredibly wise decision. It's also an amazing case study. And we get into a very interesting conversation about the build versus buy decision that any line of business software company has to make when it comes to analytics these days. It was a really manic conversation, but I think it was also chock full of a lot of interesting information and insights. I hope you feel the same way. So let's get into it.
Announcer (00:02:27): Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please?
Announcer (00:02:31): This is the Raw Data by P3 Adaptive Podcast, with your host, Rob Collie, and your cohost Thomas LaRock. Find out what the experts at P3 Adaptive can do for your business. Just go to P3Adaptive.com. Raw Data by P3 Adaptive is data with the human element.
Rob Collie (00:02:55): Welcome to the show, Derek Rickard. How are you, sir?
Derek Rickard (00:02:59): I'm good. Do you want to do it with the right pronunciation or is it okay to do Rickard?
Rob Collie (00:03:03): Oh no, let's do it. Let's do it. What's the right pronunciation?
Derek Rickard (00:03:06): It's Rickard. But honestly, I've been hearing the wrong pronunciation my whole life.
Rob Collie (00:03:09): Well, it sounds like Jean-Luc Ricard.
Derek Rickard (00:03:12): I know it's very French sounding, but it's really more English.
Rob Collie (00:03:15): It's Rickard?
Derek Rickard (00:03:15): Yeah, Rickard.
Thomas LaRock (00:03:16): Rob, just do it without screwing it up this time.
Derek Rickard (00:03:18): It's always the thing, because it comes up so often with the last name. It's not overly complex, but it is something that's really difficult to understand how it's pronounced. I don't understand why.
Rob Collie (00:03:29): Well, you've kind of hit the jackpot there because it's one of those last names that sounds awesome either way. Tom here has really hit the jackpot.
Derek Rickard (00:03:37): Yeah, he did.
Rob Collie (00:03:38): LaRock.
Derek Rickard (00:03:39): That is a jackpot there.
Rob Collie (00:03:40): Yeah. The only thing better would be LeCool or something?
Thomas LaRock (00:03:45): LaRock is actually the shortened version of the name.
Derek Rickard (00:03:47): What's the long version. Is it even cooler?
Thomas LaRock (00:03:49): It is.
Derek Rickard (00:03:50): Okay. All right. I'm listening.
Thomas LaRock (00:03:53): The slightly longer one would have been [inaudible 00:03:55], but it's even longer than that. It's Couille [inaudible 00:03:58] and another word in there. Anyway, Couille, if you don't know, has evolved over the centuries to be a slang word in some languages for basically balls.
Rob Collie (00:04:08): Oh, nice.
Thomas LaRock (00:04:09): So Balls of Brown Stone was my original name, which is just now LaRock.
Rob Collie (00:04:15): Balls of Brown Stone.
Thomas LaRock (00:04:17): Balls of Brown Stone.
Derek Rickard (00:04:18): But I don't know if that makes it... Well, it is cooler.
Rob Collie (00:04:20): Do you know who, Thomas?
Derek Rickard (00:04:22): Yeah-
Thomas LaRock (00:04:22): Have we talked?
Derek Rickard (00:04:22): ... but we haven't met before. You've got a blog where you actually post things, which is cool, as does P3. I don't have a blog where I post things. I did post something recently, but no. So I do, I have read your work, Tom.
Thomas LaRock (00:04:34): You're the one. All right.
Derek Rickard (00:04:36): Yep. I'm the one. I didn't know until our emails were going around that your email is @SolarWinds. So I'm like, "I maybe have never heard of that before. A little bit ago, I don't know what happened."
Thomas LaRock (00:04:46): Yeah. See, that's what actually I've been saying that in various ways. I'll say, "Hey, I work for SolarWinds. You may have heard of us recently."
Derek Rickard (00:04:55): "We're pretty popular."
Rob Collie (00:04:56): "I work for a newsworthy organization."
Thomas LaRock (00:04:59): I keep saying how you can't buy this kind of publicity,
Rob Collie (00:05:03): "I work for the highest profile organization in the monitoring space."
Derek Rickard (00:05:08): There it is.
Thomas LaRock (00:05:09): Yes.
Rob Collie (00:05:11): Prove me wrong.
Derek Rickard (00:05:12): Highly profiled.
Rob Collie (00:05:14): Derek. If I had reached out to you and said, "Hey, let's get on the phone and just talk about whatever we want for an hour or two." The only proper response would be, "I don't have time for that."
Derek Rickard (00:05:25): But I would want to. That's fine.
Rob Collie (00:05:26): You'd want to, but we wouldn't allow ourselves that.
Derek Rickard (00:05:28): We've done it.
Rob Collie (00:05:28): But then you see, how this works is, I said, "No, let's record a podcast."
Derek Rickard (00:05:31): Oh, I see. Yeah, that makes sense.
Rob Collie (00:05:33): And now it's legit. It's like money laundering, this is now clean.
Derek Rickard (00:05:37): Do you have a lot of listeners?
Rob Collie (00:05:39): Oh my God. Just so many, like Legion. You're the last one to know about the show. I don't know how to tell you this, but like everyone else was in on this.
Derek Rickard (00:05:48): Everyone else already knew. Yeah, it was news to me that you had a podcast. But that's not me, I've been so busy with my own stuff that I haven't been paying attention to anything. There's a pandemic happening right now, and that's something that I came into a little late. No, I'm just kidding, I didn't. I did notice that one.
Rob Collie (00:06:04): Yeah. It was like, "Oh my God, I stuck my head up and like, what's this COVID thing?"
Thomas LaRock (00:06:08): COVID, I thought he was talking about the 5G pandemic.
Rob Collie (00:06:10): Oh, that too, of course.
Derek Rickard (00:06:12): Multidemic.
Rob Collie (00:06:13): Derek is someone that I've seen in-person maybe twice in my life, maybe three times. We have not interacted a lot. It's not like we've spent long periods of time with one another. However, Derek, you are one to leave an impression.
Derek Rickard (00:06:26): I don't know how, but yes. Okay.
Rob Collie (00:06:28): Your name comes up and I just start smiling.
Derek Rickard (00:06:30): All right. Well, that's nice. That's a good feeling.
Rob Collie (00:06:33): We'd hang out, conference here, conference there. And every time we'd hang out, we'd just just be laughing nonstop and really enjoying the-
Derek Rickard (00:06:40): Yeah, we're both funny.
Rob Collie (00:06:41): I think I'm funny, but-
Derek Rickard (00:06:43): No, we're both funny.
Rob Collie (00:06:44): We're both funny. I appreciate that. But in your presence, I'm like, "Okay, I need to hang with this guy." Apparently I was under the erroneous impression that you neither drink nor swear.
Derek Rickard (00:06:52): That's just not a true statement. I don't know.
Rob Collie (00:06:53): No, it was a true statement that I was under the impression.
Derek Rickard (00:06:56): Oh yeah. That's true. Yeah, it's your feelings, bro.
Rob Collie (00:06:58): Yeah. I can't be wrong, don't invalidate me.
Derek Rickard (00:07:01): I'll validate you. I'll validate you. You're right to feel that.
Rob Collie (00:07:04): So how did we meet? Why have we met? You were one of the OG Power Pivot professionals.
Derek Rickard (00:07:10): Yeah, that makes sense. So the origin story of how I got into Power Pivot was, I was working for a small manufacturing company and I was an analyst there and I did lots of fun stuff with Access and Excel and Crystal Reports and email. So I used whatever tools are available to come up with something, and I really enjoyed doing that, but I wasn't entirely happy with how it was doing that there. It wasn't fulfilling. So I went to work for the university here in Bellingham. And that was really fun, but holy cow, the workload shifted way down. I went from cool being like agile, not in the agile way, but agile and like adapting to things and coming up with cool solutions, to, "Wow, there's nothing to do. There's nothing to do here."
Derek Rickard (00:07:55): So during that time, I just decided, "Okay, I'll just learn some new tools. Let's see what else is going on in Excel." I was already pretty good at Excel, but that's where I came across Power Pivot. And I saw the site that Microsoft had up for a little bit. This was 2010. I got it loaded and I started playing with the data at the Capitol budget office at Western. And that was really cool because a lot of the reports that they had at that point generated from Access databases, I was like, "They're all right here, interactive. You can just, boom, done. Oh, want to refresh? Click the button."
Derek Rickard (00:08:23): That was also the first time anyone in that department had actually connected to the data source rather than just having an export that they then did their thing. Anyway, that's how I cut my teeth on like, "Oh, this is what Power Pivot is, this is how I can use it." And I had a lot of time during the last half of 2010 to play with it. And at the same time, the company I was working for, which is called the Homax group, which Rob, you may be familiar with the name. You may have heard of us.
Derek Rickard (00:08:46): They were still struggling with the duct tape and bailing wire infrastructure that I had set up for commission reporting, inventory, whatever else was going on. So they reached out to me and they said, "Can you help us? We've got a guy here who's your replacement, but we really need some training with him. Can you help us on the side?" I'm like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." So I did that, and then I was also like, "Hey, you know what? You know you want to be really cool here? Is Power Pivot. That would be awesome here." And I showed them, "Hey, this would be great here at the Homax group because you guys have so many systems that we can all mash together. It can hold lots and lots of data," because we were constantly running into, at that point, they hadn't gone to 2010, so this is a whole thing to get Excel 2010 in there too.
Derek Rickard (00:09:24): But they were running into the 64,000 row cap or whatever that was all the time. So I was like, "You guys need this here. You need to upgrade your Excel and then I'll show you what it can do." And I did, and they were super excited. And they actually offered me a great position to come back and have some autonomy to do my thing and also bring in the tools that I'd like to use. So that's what I did. And we created some great reporting. And then the very next thing was to share it. So we were like, "Okay, we've got to find a way to get this on a platform that we can share."
Derek Rickard (00:09:53): So we found through the blog that I had been reading about how to use Power Pivot, how to use whatever tricks you had at that time, Rob, it was like, "Oh, we have this company called Pstream.
Rob Collie (00:10:03): That's right.
Derek Rickard (00:10:06): That's what it's called for short.
Rob Collie (00:10:07): Yeah. We'll call it Pstream. That's good.
Derek Rickard (00:10:09): It's Pstream. They were like the first cloud hosting Excel workbook, like site. Is that accurate?
Rob Collie (00:10:15): That's right. And I don't know how it never occurred to me that that name was Pstream.
Derek Rickard (00:10:19): Oh, that's an accounting term, my man, because they couldn't fit Pivot Stream and the whole thing as the account ID. They had to limit the characters, so it was Pstream.
Rob Collie (00:10:27): Oh my God, we were Pstream.
Derek Rickard (00:10:29): Yeah, that's you guys, Pstream. So Pstream was the platform to host these Excel reports that we created. And man, it was awesome because people loved it. But we were running into problems.
Thomas LaRock (00:10:38): Problems with your Pstream?
Derek Rickard (00:10:39): They were Pstream problems. We had a LaRock blocking the Pstream. No, Tom was not there.
Rob Collie (00:10:43): Oh my God. This is really ironic. Considering that our tagline was You're in Good Hands with Pstream. You're in Good Hands
Derek Rickard (00:10:52): Yes, you're in good hands. I got you. See, we're funny, guys.
Rob Collie (00:10:56): So funny. Oh my God.
Derek Rickard (00:10:58): Anyway, we had problems with... It wasn't problems with Pstream, it was actually a problems with... I was like, "There's got to be a way to do these things." Many-to-many, actually, was the issue. It was a many-to-many relationship. And I said, "Hey, with Pstream, we might be able to talk to this guy who writes this blog. He used to work at Microsoft, so that's legit." And he's like, "Okay, let's arrange to have some time." And I think maybe the workbook was sent your way, Rob. I don't know. But eventually, you reached out and we had a conversation. I think your perspective is better on that, but I'll let you take it from that point.
Rob Collie (00:11:30): Honestly, I feel like my actual relationship with you begins-
Derek Rickard (00:11:35): He doesn't remember any of that, by the way.
Rob Collie (00:11:37): That's right. But it begins when we get face to face in a hallway outside of a session at some conference later. Now, I did remember you guys by name and all of that. That's when, to me, I put the faces and the personalities on the other end of that email or that conversation. That's when I'm like, "This is awesome. These guys... " You and Jason, right?
Derek Rickard (00:11:56): Yep, Jason. Jason Presley, who ended up working for Pstream.
Rob Collie (00:11:58): Who ended up working for Pstream. That's correct. What's really funny to me about that story is, you start at the beginning saying that you had left Homax and had gone to Western Washington, and I'm thinking to myself, "That's not right. That is not what happened."
Derek Rickard (00:12:12): He is lying.
Rob Collie (00:12:12): when I met you, you were at Homax.
Derek Rickard (00:12:14): Yeah, that's true.
Rob Collie (00:12:15): Then when the story turned to you going back to Homax, I'm like, "Okay, now I get it."
Derek Rickard (00:12:18): And that's it boring detail of the story, but it's really important because there's so much learning curve to do that. And I just wanted to validate others, if anyone struggles with that learning curve, to say, I had a lot of time when the features weren't as much either, when the features were more limited. So we were like, "Okay, we're getting used to this DAX language and how to structure multiple tables."
Rob Collie (00:12:37): That's my story as well. In early 2010, I didn't have a lot to do-
Derek Rickard (00:12:42): But you're at Microsoft, right? Or no?
Rob Collie (00:12:43): I was at Microsoft still, but I had already moved to the Midwest and I was transitioning. I knew I wasn't going to be able to continue to be a program manager on the engineering team, because back then, remote work, wasn't really a thing, especially for that position. So as the transitional thing, I was blogging about Power Pivot. To blog about Power Pivot, you actually had to learn how to use it. So really, like the classic line and the spy movies, "We're not that different you and I." Like in 2010, I also didn't have a whole lot to do other than screw around and kick the tires and put Power Pivot through its paces-
Derek Rickard (00:13:19): Yeah, that was fun.
Rob Collie (00:13:19): ... and make mistakes that no one would typically know that I made. Every now and then, I would write about the mistake and not know it was a mistake and people would have to try to reproduce it on their end and go, "Hey, this isn't working." So yeah, that freedom back in that year, just the free time to explore this new domain, I agree, it was crucial to you, it was also crucial to me.
Derek Rickard (00:13:42): That was a good times, 2010. 2010, also the year the iPad dropped, super important.
Rob Collie (00:13:48): Is it?
Derek Rickard (00:13:48): Yeah, that is super important because you went from two years later, people are like, "How come I'm looking at an Excel spreadsheet that doesn't render well on this Pstream. Look at my iPad, look at it. Shouldn't it be better than this?"
Rob Collie (00:13:59): Yeah. Excel services rendered through SharePoint, turns out to not be so great on those original-
Derek Rickard (00:14:06): iPads.
Rob Collie (00:14:08): Thankfully, things have moved forward since then. All right. So then at some point, you go solo, don't you?
Derek Rickard (00:14:15): Yeah. So basically, Homax's gig was to like buy brands because they're a consumer packaged goods company, so they would buy brands. Probably the most popular brand is Goo Gone, which has that orange stuff. So they bought Goo Gone. Black Flag was another one that had, which kills the lots of bugs. Homax was a brand which has spray texture and that kind of stuff. Anyway, they would buy these brands, they would acquire the brands and bring them into their umbrella. They're owned by a private equity firm. And so eventually, they got to a point where they needed to sell and a lot of the data efforts that I was putting into the company to help them operationally would also be used for chunking off the company to sell bits off to other folks. So Magic and Gugan were sold off.
Derek Rickard (00:14:54): And eventually, we sold the rest of the company, there was nothing left to sell. So the last thing I helped them do is their transaction with PPG, which is a company in Pittsburgh. And after that, I was done. Actually, there was a, "Hey, we don't need your whole team anymore." It was me and Jason and a couple other folks. And he's like, "We don't need your whole team anymore, we'll just need you for the next like year." And I was like, "How about I just leave and you keep Jason around for a bit? Because I've been doing the side hustle for awhile and I'd love to just go into that more."
Derek Rickard (00:15:23): So that's where we landed and it was cool because we had that agreement. They hung out as a client of mine for a little bit afterwards while they were transitioning to their mothership. That's why I went solo. The thing is, I feel very lucky because a lot of people have to take a dive, they have to like jump in and risk. I had none of that because I'd already started work with sister companies at that private equity firm, so there were already a client of mine. Another person that used to work at Homax who went off to work for this communications company. She hit me up shortly before Homax sold and she said, "Hey, can you help us out with some stuff?" So they became a client of mine.
Derek Rickard (00:15:57): And that just lifted me off to not really take much of a risk at all. All it was was a relief to those clients that I had more time for them. So that was cool.
Rob Collie (00:16:05): Yeah. That is a more gentle transition into the-
Derek Rickard (00:16:08): Very gentle.
Rob Collie (00:16:09): ... freelancer role than is typical.
Derek Rickard (00:16:11): Yeah, it was nice.
Rob Collie (00:16:12): So Homax became Nomax.
Derek Rickard (00:16:16): Nomax. The brand still around, but it's owned by PPG.
Rob Collie (00:16:19): Yeah. It's just the endless game of consolidation and shuffling. So you went solo.
Derek Rickard (00:16:26): Went solo, Source to Share.
Rob Collie (00:16:27): Source to Share.
Derek Rickard (00:16:28): July of '14, I think
Rob Collie (00:16:30): July of '14. So is that still what you're doing today?
Derek Rickard (00:16:33): Source to Share still operates, I don't do that anymore. As of January 4th, I took the chief data officer position at Emergency Reporting. It doesn't matter if you've heard of Emergency Reporting yet. It's basically a records management software for the fire industry. So they do lots of fun stuff there.
Rob Collie (00:16:54): The fire industry. Go on.
Derek Rickard (00:16:55): Yeah, yeah. Not like we're starting fires, but for firefighters, for fire departments. They have an EMS software as well. Basically, you have people going out and saving lives and property, and then they come back and they're like, "Oh, I got to write up all this crap. I got to write it all because it's all these things that the government wants to know and all these things that I have to file." And no one would want to do that manually, which there are still plenty of places that do that. So they have record management software. So there are different flavors of that for different industries. And for the fire industry, they have Emergency Reporting and several other competitors, which I could name them if I knew them.
Rob Collie (00:17:32): So Emergency Reporting isn't about that report that you grab an analyst at four o'clock on a Friday and say, "Oh my God, we need to have this by Monday."
Derek Rickard (00:17:42): That'd be a good name for a consultancy group that works well under fire, but that's not what it is.
Rob Collie (00:17:48): Yeah. Like, "If you've waited too long, call us." It's actually reporting about emergencies.
Derek Rickard (00:17:54): Yeah. It's emergency reporting. Yeah. Yes, that's correct. Nailed it.
Rob Collie (00:17:58): When you described it as the fire industry, I did wonder.
Derek Rickard (00:18:02): Sorry, fire prevention.
Rob Collie (00:18:03): Most industries that you name, their job is to create those things.
Derek Rickard (00:18:08): Yeah, right, create the fires.
Rob Collie (00:18:09): Which reminds me of the fire department in Roxanne. Steve Martin, remember that?
Derek Rickard (00:18:15): Oh yeah. Steve Martin.
Rob Collie (00:18:16): The fire department's a bunch of pyros. It's like, "Guys, we can't have people when there's a fire saying whatever you do, don't call the fire department."
Derek Rickard (00:18:26): Cannot do it.
Rob Collie (00:18:28): So chief data officer. Holy cow, that is a hell of a job title.
Derek Rickard (00:18:34): I like it. Yeah, it's good. I didn't pick it.
Rob Collie (00:18:36): It picked you. That's what it picked, it picked you.
Derek Rickard (00:18:39): I guess it picked me. Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:18:40): Okay. So you are now a certified made man of data, chief data officer. Whatever happens from here on out, your resumes is going to lead with that.
Derek Rickard (00:18:50): Oh yeah. That will be the first thing after my name, Derek Rickard.
Rob Collie (00:18:54): Jean-Luc Ricard.
Derek Rickard (00:18:55): Yeah. I think that a title is a title, but what I'm really happy about is an organization that wants to actually invest in a data strategy that's not a data organization. They're records management, they're not like, "We're a syndicated data company, so we do data. We're focused on data." Of course they would have that focus, but this is a records management software and they're like, "We need to be better with our data so we want to have a strategy there and we need to invest in that." So that's what they did.
Rob Collie (00:19:22): Yeah. There's some really interesting points there. So first of all, when Donald Farmer, we had him on the show, he said an interesting series of things, which is like, first of all, if you're a software company, you need to sooner or later come to the realization that you're also a data company. And if you're a data company, you need to come to the realization that you're also an analytics company. And then he said, if you're an analytics company, you need to quickly come to the realization that you need to be an advanced analytics company.
Derek Rickard (00:19:45): He's got all the answers.
Rob Collie (00:19:46): Dude, yeah, doesn't he?
Derek Rickard (00:19:46): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:19:48): Another way to say it is, if a company like that, records management for any industry, if a company like that isn't a data company, where do we think data comes from? To me, if I'm going to analyze something, someone better be recording it for me. Someone needs to be generating the data. Any line of business software, that's where data comes from.
Derek Rickard (00:20:15): Yeah, for real. And I think maybe from their perspective, the responsibilities just fell onto storage and retrieval. We're going to store it, it'll be organized and you'll be able to retrieve it. And there's a lot more to it than just that. In terms of value of the data, there's way more than just storage and retrieval.
Rob Collie (00:20:35): But that's how it starts.
Derek Rickard (00:20:36): Oh yeah, for sure. You have maturity.
Rob Collie (00:20:38): Storage and retrieval is the only thing, and I don't know if you've read my magnum opus series of articles on exactly this topic, but storage and retrieval is where it all begins. You have to have storage and retrieval.
Derek Rickard (00:20:51): Those are basics.
Rob Collie (00:20:53): And when it's time for the first cut of analytics or reporting, when everyone's out there, the storage and retrieval professionals have to be there, this is why the industry started with the storage and retrieval people and that mindset, and it's why the analytics industry has had a hangover for a long time. That sequel, isn't actually a good analysis tool at all. I know Tom's horrified, but come on, it's just not, it wasn't built for that. It wasn't built for that. And so when you said storage and retrieval, my eyes just lit up. That's why the earth cooled. So tell me more about that, to the extent that you're allowed to, what is the data strategy?
Derek Rickard (00:21:34): Well, I think talk in theory about it, and honestly, this is why I don't write a lot of blog posts or anything like that, is materializing the random things that are happening in my head, don't always work correctly, especially if I'm writing, talking is a little bit better.
Rob Collie (00:21:48): It's not a whole lot better, honestly, when you're talking, but we'll take it.
Derek Rickard (00:21:52): But in general, we have data in retrieval, that's covered. And actually a lot of the retrieval for them is through paginated reporting, which is great because so many things need that, that we have to get this form to the government and we have to report it to the government entity, and it has to be the same all the time. It can't be wildly different and paginated reporting was a really good option when they first started. And it actually still is a good option for things that require paginated reports. That's great for retrieving an incident at a time or maybe some summary, but not really great for understanding the aggregates of your data.
Derek Rickard (00:22:26): So this is again in terms of data maturity. We have storage and retrieval and business intelligence maturity would be like descriptive analytics first, your descriptive data first. So just like, what our aggregates look like? What is there their trend been over time for incidents? What's our seasonality with fires? And how is it growing? Is it staying the same? How is it when we compare it to our staff, our personnel? Do we have less personnel working for fire now than we did before? Are we meeting our standards to make sure that we can stay accredited? These types of questions.
Derek Rickard (00:23:00): All those things right now, I think a lot of them are done offline, at least they weren't done offline. So they would pull out these RS reports or paginated reports and they would compile the data themselves and they'd say, "Oh, this is how we can get our accreditation." And meanwhile, I'm saying, "Well, we could have it. We can embed analytics products in here that will at least at the very least be able to describe your aggregates. We can do that." That was what we piloted in 2020. So as I said, I had only started there in January 4th, that was when I took that position, but I was with ER in a consultant capacity for mid '17 or later in 2017, I've been working with them.
Derek Rickard (00:23:37): Super small stuff at first and then eventually larger things. But we saw this like, "Hey, we can do more with this data for our customers so we should try to embed analytics." And it's something that they tried to do before as well, but it just didn't work out. It was too complex, there were too many problems with it and we took a different approach. We went really lean, we said, "Okay, we're just going to try to embed some analytic reporting." And we got our first module up, I think in February or March of last year, our incidence module, and then we just expanded from there.
Derek Rickard (00:24:05): And these modules are sizable, they're not tiny, but we have five modules now, all analytical reporting, again, the basic. So the approach we take is we put it out there and we ask folks what they think about it, there's like maybe six, 7,000, I don't remember how many customers, how many fire departments are using us. So getting feedback from them and aggregating the feedback is a whole another thing, but understanding like, "Okay, these things are good, these things are bad, we would really like different reports." So that strategy is one side of the customer facing business intelligence or analytical reporting to embed in our software. So that's one of the strategies. Oh, that was super long, people are asleep now, for sure.
Rob Collie (00:24:41): No. This is the good stuff. So I can't help it.
Derek Rickard (00:24:45): You should interrupt, there's too way too much of me talking.
Rob Collie (00:24:48): I'm trying to be polite. I'm not just waiting for my turn to talk. Okay, maybe I am.
Derek Rickard (00:24:53): But like some people, you can't really see where I'm looking, but I'm looking right at Tom.
Rob Collie (00:24:59): Yeah. He chooses his moment and right when you least expect it... So what is the technology for this embedding?
Derek Rickard (00:25:10): Well, that's the thing is we were going lean. So we were going lean with, we don't want it to take forever, we would love to just embed it and not have to worry about it. So we did Power BI Embedded, and that's known. When customers go to the analytics screen, the embedded stuff, you'll see the Power BI logo pop up before the screen renders. So that's what we're using for that. Backend wise, it's a little bit different, we separated out the engine. So Power BI is the visualization layer essentially.
Rob Collie (00:25:36): That's what I was wondering, is which kind of lean? There's lean from the, we don't want to develop an enormous amount of software in-house for analytics. And then there's lean in terms of it doesn't really offer the customer very much. And definitely it sounds like it's the former, by embedding Power BI, which I did not know that's what you were doing. Honestly, I didn't know, I was hoping.
Derek Rickard (00:26:03): I don't know how you wouldn't.
Rob Collie (00:26:04): I was hoping that's what you chose, but I was expecting you to say, "We coded up our own charts and visuals." And then I was going to go, "Boo, bad decision." And Nope, you guys, you were smart, you did it, I think, the right way. No line of business software company should ever be in the business of building their own analytics engine.
Derek Rickard (00:26:25): That was the thing is that the engine, the technology behind Power Pivot and Power BI, the Analysis Services engine is so powerful and that's the only part that doesn't have the power name to it, it's just Analysis Services. It should be Power Analysis Services.
Rob Collie (00:26:41): They're working on it. They're going to have to negotiate with the organization formerly known as Pass for that acronym, to get the Power Analysis Services.
Derek Rickard (00:26:52): Yes. It is amazing. And that is to me, seemed to be the obvious answer to what needed to happen. And like you said, "home growing this thing would take a lot of effort, and we're still on the fence on like, what is the customer reaction to these things? We know that customers would like to have analytical reporting, but we don't know once they see it, once it's in front of their face, what is the reaction to that? Do they want more? Do they're like, "Oh, cool, check that box. Now, we're moving on to whatever we're doing"? So that was the lean approach too, the models we created were lean. They didn't have tons and tons of data points because we don't need them, meaning, when I say data points I mean columns and tables.
Derek Rickard (00:27:30): We started with a small set, and then as soon as we got feedback, we would expand, add onto that, like, "Okay, that sounds right, we should add that for this model, maybe we add a tab to the report," whatever we're doing, but that was our general approach. And that made it fast to stand up. And we had our web devs working on the embedded piece, but creating the reports, that's not that bad, that's a quick turnaround. In fact, I think the amount of time we were working on the reports and vetting them and making sure that they're going to make sense in front of folks was maybe a month, maybe. So that was nice.
Thomas LaRock (00:27:59): I want Rob to repeat what he just said though, no companies should be doing their own analytics?
Rob Collie (00:28:04): No.
Thomas LaRock (00:28:04): I'm sorry.
Rob Collie (00:28:05): No line of business software company should be building their own analytics engine.
Derek Rickard (00:28:12): It seems like a feudal effort.
Rob Collie (00:28:13): It's already been done by others in a way better manner.
Thomas LaRock (00:28:15): You're using some words, I feel I need to have you dive down. As somebody who works for a software company that may or may not be doing some analytics. So I want to know more. I think you mean more like our accountants shouldn't be doing their own or something.
Rob Collie (00:28:34): That's also true. Well, hold on. Now I actually mean that it take some, just some random company that might be in the news like Solar Winds.
Thomas LaRock (00:28:45): Never had of them.
Rob Collie (00:28:46): A lot of data is being generated, collected, tagged all those sorts of things in that system by one of the things that it does, it's actually in some grand over simplification, is really all that it does. Of course, the customers are going to want analytics and reporting over that data. Of course they are. So what has happened over and over and over again in history is that at that moment in time, a company like Solar Winds will then say, "Great. We will go essentially build our own in-house BI software that does or attempts to do many of the same things as like the Microsoft Power platform."
Rob Collie (00:29:25): "And then build that into our software, and we're going to build a reporting services, paginated reporting competitor, but we're never going to sell it as a general purpose tool. We're only going to build it for our own purposes and we're going to build a Power BI competitor." And of course those things are not nearly as well-funded at that company as they would be at a company that's like all in on analytics as their core mission. And you don't necessarily have the right staff for it either. And so you end up with what becomes a very unsatisfying-
Derek Rickard (00:29:59): And unstable.
Rob Collie (00:30:00): Unstable. It's your under-delivering relative to customer need and at the same time, overspending, according to your original estimates of how much it was going to cost internally for you to develop. It's just the wrong move, especially today when things like Power BI Embedded are available to you.
Derek Rickard (00:30:16): Yeah. You just get them plugged in.
Rob Collie (00:30:18): Oh, here's where it gets good.
Thomas LaRock (00:30:20): I would say that I live in an edge case then, and I think you are correct for, we'll say 85% of the companies out there, but from where I sit, I could probably give you a handful of examples where this is why it happens. It's not because the company would say to themselves, "We'll just do with ourselves." Sometimes your hands might be forced by say your customer base. So there's a delicate balance that has to happen. But I would agree with you when I think of my former life, some of the companies I've worked for previously, where we would have tried to do our own and built our own stuff.
Thomas LaRock (00:30:57): And our customers are really internal customers and we would have done it ourselves or we would go try to buy a tool that would promise to be the only data warehouse you would ever need. They'll give you all the reports you want and all that stuff. Would you be surprised to learn that that failed?
Rob Collie (00:31:13): No, not at all.
Thomas LaRock (00:31:13): Right, exactly. So I can absolutely believe for that, but I'm going to tell you that there are some valid reasons where you end up, it's almost like you hit a tipping point. You get to this point where you're like, "Ah, you know this Rob." I'll look right and you can say, "I would love to have Power BI somehow hooked into a bunch of products, but we can't." And there are legitimate reasons why that's just never going to happen. And we are going to have to do stuff on our own.
Derek Rickard (00:31:39): That's sucks.
Rob Collie (00:31:40): Give me the number one reason.
Thomas LaRock (00:31:42): Let's say you're a company and you have clients in both the public and private sector. So if you're Microsoft say, you probably have an entire team dedicated to doing whatever is necessary for your public sector. For example, Azure has data centers dedicated to government Fed. Microsoft's maybe not a great example because they're in the business of catering to these clients. Not everybody has that scenario, not everybody's on the Fed list, so to speak. But now let's say you're Microsoft and you've got a product and you think the product is great, and let's say this product doesn't have any valuable reporting at all, but you've got clients in both public and private.
Thomas LaRock (00:32:32): And then you say, "You know what, hey, reporting, not problem. We built this file, we built this dashboard, just download Power BI, run everything, you're great." You're going to have clients. And the Fed sector would be like, "No, no separate download. We install, it's all in one, and it's there. It's in one tool. That's it. That's what we buy, that's what we're allowed to install. There's nothing extra. If you can't put it and embed it in the tool, then forget it." Now, I know you're going to tell me Power BI Embedded and all that stuff.
Rob Collie (00:33:00): Derek, take it from here.
Thomas LaRock (00:33:02): I'm using maybe a bad example of Microsoft, but it's not that a company thinks they're going to be able to do it better, it's that they end up because you hit a tipping point. Let's say you started out as one product in somebody's garage in Omaha or Tulsa, somewhere in the Midwest, and let's say you're now a conglomerate of 77 different products.
Rob Collie (00:33:24): You need Power BI even more in that scenario.
Thomas LaRock (00:33:27): Right. So you say, but you know the reality of trying to shove anything in there to make it all work across the board and you have to eat the elephant one bite at a time, so to speak.
Rob Collie (00:33:41): We've had a guest on this show who comes from a Power BI background and is built and is building SaaS software product who ultimately chose not to use Power BI Embedded for their reporting. And I actually respected the decision in this case, it was Austin with ConServe. And the reason why it made sense for them is the trade-off curve in a particular direction, which is they actually don't need that much flexibility in terms of what they're eventually going to have to deliver in terms of analytics. It's really pretty obvious in the first 15 to 20 minutes of talking to them what their reports need to be showing their customers. There's not that much.
Rob Collie (00:34:23): The universe of it is just not that broad compared to what it could be in a chaotic Wild West business sense. And so for them, it made sense to code at 100% themselves because they allowed them to control the user experience to a greater degree than what they could have with Power BI Embedded, and also probably for a lower ongoing cost to serve. But when the universe of analytics that's going to be required is unbounded, especially in a world where Power BI Embedded does exist, before Power BI Embedded, I think the world looks very different, but if you were building something from scratch today, your line of business is software or SaaS product, whatever, I think you'd have to look long and hard at the prospect of build on your own versus buy in the form of embedded, which as far as the customer is concerned, Derek, you can tell me if you agree, as far as the customer's concerned, other than the Power BI logo flickering at them briefly for a moment, it might as well be all one product, right?
Derek Rickard (00:35:27): Yeah. There's no difference. We could even cover the Power BI logo.
Rob Collie (00:35:31): What would you cover it with? Like a layer of paint?
Derek Rickard (00:35:33): I don't know, any our logo, any of our logo. This is like a silly on it, it's just an ER logo. But yeah, you could even cover that. You can have it completely white labeled. You wouldn't fool me, but-
Rob Collie (00:35:44): Yeah. You can tell me. If you know what you're looking for, you can tell the Power BI chart and what the controls look like and all of that.
Derek Rickard (00:35:51): I do want to say, Tom, that I'm not against going outside of Power BI as a visualization layer, and that's actually why I separated the engine out because we may want a different visualization layer later. We may not want to do Power BI Embedded.
Rob Collie (00:36:03): When you say engine, you mean the Analysis Services Engine?
Derek Rickard (00:36:06): That's the one.
Thomas LaRock (00:36:08): And I should say, "I've come to realize that you guys are talking about, like Rob just said, you're talking about doing some real analysis, whereas a lot of the things in my world is really, it's the metric collection and correlation of those metrics in the time series. We all need to embed Power BI for that, but we are getting to the point where we wanted to do things like anomaly detection, so everybody's getting to that point. I would think that type of analysis is still going to be something you're going to want built into the product and not necessarily done for you. And here's why, is because you know your data better than Microsoft.
Thomas LaRock (00:36:48): And if Microsoft is giving me a widget to help with anomaly detection, I'm getting the Filet-O-Fish version of anomaly detection and it could work.
Derek Rickard (00:37:00): Delicious.
Thomas LaRock (00:37:00): Yeah, it's delicious. I love them, I could eat a dozen-
Rob Collie (00:37:05): But it is junk food.
Thomas LaRock (00:37:06): But it's junk food, but it's going to do what I need it to do at that moment, but I'm going to be able to tell the model what is truly anomalous or not, and I may not get that from an off the shelf product.
Derek Rickard (00:37:21): Yeah. And if we're talking about plugging in AIML stuff, I see that as a totally different thing from what I'm talking about with just the Power BI visualization layer, because the visualization layer is just that, it's only for visualizing and all that other stuff you just talked about can be baked into the background in different tools, honestly. So they have Azure Synapse Analytics is out now on the Microsoft side and that's one that you can plug into AIML and that type of stuff. And they use those kinds of black box algorithms and that type of thing, and that's where I totally agree. Have you ever right clicked and do the see insights from a Visual and Power BI?
Rob Collie (00:37:56): Yes.
Derek Rickard (00:37:57): So many things are not useful, but there are a couple of things that are, but most of the time, it's not useful.
Rob Collie (00:38:02): You get things like the correlation between what leads to a successful product, like a product that sold the-
Derek Rickard (00:38:08): More quantity.
Rob Collie (00:38:08): That's right. That's right. The most dollars always tends to correlate really strongly with quantity. That's deep.
Derek Rickard (00:38:15): Yes. That is some deep learning.
Rob Collie (00:38:18): That's the deep, deep, stuff there
Derek Rickard (00:38:20): Yeah. And that's the stuff you have to sit down, and that's why I agree with you, Tom, that's not really always useful.
Rob Collie (00:38:27): It's so funny. But Tom, even thought you were saying, I actually think we're really hitting on the same thing, which is the amount of variation. So if Microsoft builds a piece of software that is like non configurable, it's more of a novelty. It's like a little bit of a novelty slapped onto the side of the product, it's like demo ware and it says, "Hey, this can be one-size-fits-all." And it turns out to not know anything about your domain and it's not going to be very good for it. That stands in sharp contrast to the majority of their platform, which is the complete opposite. DAX is like Power BI, the Analysis Services Engine is like, "Oh yeah, we're ready for you."
Rob Collie (00:39:05): In fact, one of the criticisms that you'll often hear of it in the marketplace is how little it will do for you without being configured. And I'm always like, "No, no. That's a strength of this, don't you dare flinch. This is the real deal. Data's doing it right, it's never easy. Don't you dare try to make it like out of the box, wa-lah magic, does what you want." So in the case of like SolarWinds, if there isn't going to be much variation across what each customer needs, that tends toward build in-house. It was just exactly what happened with Austin at ConServe, there isn't a lot of variation required. Whereas Derek's walking into a situation where he's got thousands of customers working in completely...
Rob Collie (00:39:51): They're all fighting fires, but some literally, but probably with wildly different reporting requirements, wildly different budget requirements, every single municipality is run differently, he needs to be prepared to meet the world where it is, which is going to be potentially a tremendous pallet of variation. And in that situation, you really can't build internally and ever succeed at it.
Derek Rickard (00:40:18): No, you'll never win that battle. You're always going to be a constant struggle.
Rob Collie (00:40:23): I'm okay, you're okay where are we always land. No controversy here.
Derek Rickard (00:40:28): Back to the controversy where we're saying there's some cases where you can have that. Like I said, that is why Power BI is the visualization layer for us. And maybe there's a time in the future where we want to swap that out, but-
Rob Collie (00:40:40): I love that you left that door open. I don't think enough people consider this as maybe your visualization tools. Now, again, if there's a wide variety of variation to be expected, you don't want to be the person that's re-inventing the bar chart and all the settings that have to go on it. That is a lot of work for not a lot of love. If your bar chart sucks-
Derek Rickard (00:41:01): Can you just make it a pie chart please? I like all 20 categories in one pie.
Thomas LaRock (00:41:06): That's all anybody wants, is to pie chart. At the end of the day, that's all they... Oh my God.
Derek Rickard (00:41:10): They're like, "Thank goodness you made it a pie chart." I'm like, "Oh," and I die a little inside.
Rob Collie (00:41:14): You'll be wanting a thermometer gauges next. Yes?
Derek Rickard (00:41:17): Oh yeah. "Something that takes up a lot of real estate and barely says anything, do you have anything like that?" "Yes. Yes we do."
Rob Collie (00:41:24): I just want my report to be one giant colored button. It's only three buttons, three different colors that can it display, red, green or yellow.
Derek Rickard (00:41:31): Yeah, it's a red rover situation.
Rob Collie (00:41:34): I feel like we needed a sub-genre of Gary Larson, Far Side cartoons that was like the Neanderthals building reports.
Derek Rickard (00:41:43): You do it. You do it. Get to drawing.
Rob Collie (00:41:46): Management says make simpler. So how's that going? You said that you joined in January, and by like February or March, you had your first couple of modules out or whatever.
Derek Rickard (00:41:57): No, no, no, no. Sorry. Let's back that up a little bit. I joined in January. I took the CDO position in January of this year.
Rob Collie (00:42:02): Of this year?
Derek Rickard (00:42:03): Yeah. That's been four months since it's been like the double-down on, "Hey, we're going to do this. We're going to branch out and do this even more. We're going to put the pedal to the metal and actually create a data org in our organization." So that's only been four months. But last year was the pilot program like, "Let's embed an analytics tool and see what people think about it." And it was awesome and people loved it. From there, we got more requests for larger organizations, The Army being one of them. And they were like, "We'd love to have this at the installation level, but we would love to see this at the top."
Derek Rickard (00:42:33): So we went to DC preCOVID. So this was still last year that we talked to them about this Embedded analytics stuff and we showed them what we had already, they're like, "Can we make this roll up to the top level?" And of course, as you know, Rob, all the data's in that model. Now, it is separated. Tom, you know it's separated for gov versus whatever, but all the data's in that model so rolling it up is a matter of just releasing the low level security and having a different entry point for that model.
Derek Rickard (00:43:02): And then of course, changing the report to be more applicable to someone who's looking at it from really a full entity view. But that was a perfect example of them wanting more. They're like, "We want group level analytics." And that makes the most sense, of course they would want that. So counties would want that and fire marshals also, they'll want that same thing too. So that's pretty cool that we opened up that.
Rob Collie (00:43:21): So it didn't take long to stand it up, it doesn't sound like.
Derek Rickard (00:43:25): Yeah, it wasn't long to stand up, and the pilot went well. Let's say that. People really enjoyed it.
Rob Collie (00:43:30): Okay. All right. So it was a successful product launch?
Derek Rickard (00:43:33): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:43:34): How much curiosity are you seeing? There's two different problems you can have when you release the flood gates like this. One of them is, you're just getting hit from every possible angle with all kinds of requests and you're just like, "Oh, what Pandora's box if we opened?" And the other one is crickets, everyone just saying, "Yep, we love it. It's great. Thanks." But no one has any constructive criticism or you're not getting enough of that and it makes you wonder if they're really using it
Derek Rickard (00:44:03): Well, the wondering doesn't have to happen because we can monitor it, so we can see how it's being used and the folks that are using it. But I will say, it comes in waves, the feedback. We do get feedback, and it's great. And most of the time, people are really happy and they're just asking if something else can be included. In the terms of maturity, this is still very much in the toddler years, the descriptive analytics type thing. So the questions being asked are like, "Hey, can we see these things at this level by station?" Which of station would have been done right away.
Derek Rickard (00:44:32): So we were getting feedbacks, but they come in waves because they have waves of reporting requirements. So every quarter, they have to submit reports to other folks, every year, they have to do some accreditation reporting. So that's when we were seeing that feedback. And I wish it was a little bit ahead of that because we could try to put something together so we can service accreditation reporting needs for like a ton of fire departments at once. But that's something that we're working on. We're trying to work that out and the company is trying to work that out. It's like, "How can we get ahead of that so that we can really help folks out before they need it?"
Rob Collie (00:45:01): How much, if any, of Power BIs self service capabilities have you exposed to your customers at this point? Do any of them ever see a field list where they could drag, drop and create different visual, or you basically for the moment or maybe forever, all reports are going to be built in-house?
Derek Rickard (00:45:21): Great question. So the idea with releasing this pilot too... And this is called BI Basic, that's what this whole entity is called, BI Basic. So we have BI Groups, which is where I was saying larger entities want to roll up their analytics or roll up their numbers to their level, and that's the BI Groups. But anyway, BI Basic is what we have, and there's this concept of BI Pro. The concept of BI Pro is to actually author your own from a creative model, and that authoring environment would be embedded in the application. Now, we don't know if people want that. Part of this whole process is to get it out in front of folks, see what they want.
Derek Rickard (00:45:59): And really, when you're a SaaS company and you're working with your clients, especially the variety of clients we have, we have volunteer fire departments who are like, "We just want you to make the reports for us and we do our thing and then leave. There may not be people, the resources there to dedicate to creating their own report or understanding how to create it or whatever." And then you get these gigantic entities that want to, "It's cool that you have your Power BI stuff, but I want to put it into my data warehouse. I want that data to land right in my SQL database so I can do stuff with it too." So we have this huge variety of customers or possible customers that we don't know where to go without some feedback. So this is partly product management.
Rob Collie (00:46:39): It really takes me back. When I was first working on BI for the first time in my career, working on the Excel team, early 2000s, and we were working with the analysis services team. We were still all collectively under the impression that the output, the customer-facing, user-facing output of an analysis services model was a field list.A field list and a blank canvas, that's what the world wanted. They wanted to see that cube, they wanted to see what was in it and everything. And, oh my gosh, did it take years to get that myth beaten out of me.
Derek Rickard (00:47:17): Busted. "Hey, here's a pivot table. Here's a pivot table. This is empty. You can do whatever you want with it."
Rob Collie (00:47:22): Is that great?
Derek Rickard (00:47:23): Blank stares.
Rob Collie (00:47:24): No, no, not great. In fact, I've come full circle, which is that, we were talking about Power BI and Power Pivot in the beginning as the self-service tool. Again, still, a little bit with that hangover. Actually, with a lot of it, of like, "Yeah, the business really wants that field list." So it turns out that the same... This is good news. This is a happy accident in a way. The same technological improvements and usability improvements that were required to enable this self-service revolution that we saw, we were trying to start in 2010, the same improvements that even made it there actually ended up being really, really, really useful for the small percentage of people, much smaller percentage than what we thought.
Rob Collie (00:48:07): For them to very quickly pivot... I didn't mean to do that.
Derek Rickard (00:48:11): Good one.
Rob Collie (00:48:13): Maybe I did, but it's terrible. Very quickly respond to the needs of their users by creating new reports. And so I can totally understand where you're at right now. You should not assume that everyone's dying for that flexibility. It's nice that you can provide it if you want to, but in the meantime, the fact that you have the flexibility, you don't have to commission some new dev sprint to modify or improve what's in your embedded analytics. because you're a God of your own data. Once your way around DAX and data modeling, and you do, it's amazing what you can do in a short period of time.
Derek Rickard (00:48:54): Yeah, it's fantastic.
Rob Collie (00:48:55): I'm curious to see where you ultimately land in this.
Derek Rickard (00:48:57): I'm excited to say that just what you're describing and what I described. I'm forgetting that prior to this, in my consultancy, oftentimes, the discussion I would have with anybody asking about Power BI or technology or whatever, how to incorporate it in their company is this idea of levels of authorship, because there are different styles of authors. They're the kind that create the models, and this isn't anything new, but materializing it was good. So there are the kinds of make the models, and they can make reports as well, but those are certain type of person.
Derek Rickard (00:49:26): And then the people that can create reports from the model, that can be a different layer of authorship. And then the people that make dashboards from the reports, that can be a different layer of authorship. And not to mention the people that prep the data for the model, that's a different layer. There's all these different layers. And what's been happening since 2010, and actually before that too, but what's been happening is that we're opening the doors for those authors and allowing them to be a part of that too, and service their next layer of customers.
Rob Collie (00:49:53): I feel like y'all would be an amazing case study for Microsoft on Power BI Embedded. Have you explored?
Derek Rickard (00:50:01): The CEO of Emergency Reporting, his name is David Nokes, and I know that he talks with Microsoft about these types of things. So I don't know what exactly, but I know that he talks to them about, "Hey, ER is this." Because we're a Microsoft shop all around. So it's cool to have that partnership with them and for there to be case study or whatever. I agree though, I think it would be a very cool thing to say like, "Oh, this is one of our clients."
Rob Collie (00:50:25): It checks all the boxes.
Derek Rickard (00:50:27): Yeah. Public safety.
Rob Collie (00:50:28): Public safety, government. It's just a feel good story.
Derek Rickard (00:50:31): Sure is.
Rob Collie (00:50:32): It'd just be like a slice of apple pie just sitting there in the foreground of the picture on the front of the case study and no one would ever think twice.
Derek Rickard (00:50:39): No one.
Rob Collie (00:50:40): No one. It just belonged there.
Derek Rickard (00:50:41): It does sound good though. I am so hungry, but we'll get lunch after. We'll get lunch after.
Rob Collie (00:50:46): So chief data officer.
Derek Rickard (00:50:47): Sure. Have you heard that position? I'm sure you have.
Rob Collie (00:50:49): I have, yeah.
Thomas LaRock (00:50:50): I have, but you could tell me more about... To me, it's like a DBA. It means a different thing depending on the company you're at. So yeah, tell us more about what your duties are as chief data officer.
Derek Rickard (00:51:02): Sure. Yeah. And first, I want to say, I agree with you. It does differ for sure. And when offered the position, I furiously Googled to figure out what is going on. I already kind of knew, but I had in my mind at some point I'm like, "Oh, it'd be cool to be a chief analytics officer. That'd be neat." And then it's like, "Hey, we want to offer you this position, chief data officer." I'm like, "Ooh, okay. What does that mean? How is that different? How does that play into an organization?" And once we talked about it, I'm like, "Okay, this does fit in nicely." So essentially, you've got this river, untamed water everywhere. Lots of people would like to use the water, but they can't tame it. It's dirty. They don't know what to do with it.
Derek Rickard (00:51:44): So you get engineers that come in and then they build some infrastructure around it and they dam it. And then they work on like a delivery systems and that kind of stuff, get it out to crops so crops can use it. But they still have to manage how much water is going to those places, they still have to manage the quality. They still have to do all those things. The CDO position is more like the quality and delivery and volume of water that gets out to folks. And the IT department is like the infrastructure, they're the ones that built the dams. So that is the only way that I've been able to understand it.
Rob Collie (00:52:19): I love the metaphor. It comes in and builds a dam. "No more water for you."
Derek Rickard (00:52:25): No more water. Just no more water for people downstream.
Rob Collie (00:52:27): That's right. Yes. Upstream is great. Back here, behind here, we've got all kinds of water. It's like the joke the write-only database, now, we are hoarding.
Thomas LaRock (00:52:37): If there's no water, that's going to lead to shadow water, shadow IT.
Rob Collie (00:52:41): That's right.
Derek Rickard (00:52:41): Exactly. Now, of course the water is the data. Everybody knows this, right?
Rob Collie (00:52:46): That's right. That's right.
Derek Rickard (00:52:48): I didn't have to really point out that the water is the data-
Rob Collie (00:52:50): The water is the data.
Derek Rickard (00:52:51): ... that's untamed and disgusting.
Thomas LaRock (00:52:53): Oh, I thought the water was water.
Derek Rickard (00:52:54): It's also water, Tom.
Rob Collie (00:52:55): Or like the pipelines, the oil pipelines and gas pipelines, like in Iraq or whatever, like people tapping into it on a guerilla basis. And every now and then, that goes really horribly wrong.
Derek Rickard (00:53:06): Yeah, that's what happens with data too. You tap into that big stream and it can mess you up.
Thomas LaRock (00:53:11): I like your analogy as well. We just need to polish it so you can deliver it a little cleaner.
Derek Rickard (00:53:15): Yeah. I just made it up.
Thomas LaRock (00:53:17): I wanted to ask more, you're responsible for the cleanliness of the water?
Derek Rickard (00:53:22): Yeah.
Thomas LaRock (00:53:23): Okay. But are you also responsible for the streamlining of the water? It's all water. It's the same water that comes from four different sources, we don't need all four sources. Right?
Derek Rickard (00:53:34): We can consolidate water. We can cleanse water. We can deliver water out to other folks that need it, that could use it. And that doesn't happen without infrastructure. You can't do that without some infrastructure in place. So I work tightly with the CTO.
Thomas LaRock (00:53:47): How about in terms of the consolidation? How about data lineage? Does that also fall under you?
Derek Rickard (00:53:55): Data lineage and quality and metadata, that would all fall under me.
Thomas LaRock (00:53:58): So what tools are you using to identify all of the incoming sources of data?
Derek Rickard (00:54:06): A really good question, and I just started in January. So as far as tools, we're still taking inventory of our stuff. I'll say in terms of data maturity, the company has given their customers way more of their efforts than internal. So part of what I'm tasked with is not only the customer-facing stuff, which is great. And I really enjoy doing that, but also the internal data stuff. The internal data works well in their silos. We've got the sales silo, marketing's good, customer care's good, finance is good.
Derek Rickard (00:54:37): But when the processes, the business processes that span those departments, it gets a little ragged, it's a little dirty. So being able to identify the processes, put measurements on them, having data flow through that so we can actually monitor what's going on in the business, super important. And that's something that's an obstacle for a lot of companies, but it's also an obstacle for Emergency Reporting. And they're doing fine, but I'm just saying that's something that I'm tasked with, is to clean up those waters as well. So enterprise data is one of the three pillars of my group. Did that answer your question, Tom? No, it didn't because I don't have an answer, because I don't know what tool.
Thomas LaRock (00:55:13): Yeah, no it did, when you said, "Look, I just started." And your first thing is you're not at that stage yet, so you just haven't gotten there yet because you're still in the stage of basically taking inventory. And I get that, and that's a fine answer. I was really focused on how you said good question because I don't get that often from our guests. So I'm marking it down.
Derek Rickard (00:55:35): Yeah. This is a good question session.
Thomas LaRock (00:55:37): Yeah. So when I had my performance review with Rob later-
Derek Rickard (00:55:42): Reference that, "Remember that time I had a good question?"
Rob Collie (00:55:44): Tom, yesterday we drove down with our son to meet with Wayne Winston and his wife. So we listened to the Wayne Winston Podcast again. And I got to hear him say three times in a row, how smart you were or something like that, and you're like, "Oh, write that down, write that down. I'm writing it down again."
Thomas LaRock (00:56:02): Yeah, that never happens. I don't know how. It must be the math background or something. Wayne is just a nice guy. He's just so polite.
Rob Collie (00:56:09): He's super nice. Willing to meet with our son who is a potential IU business student in the fall. And we're in the Kelley School of Business and people are walking by saying hi to him and everything. It's like, "Yup, he's the real deal." So I want to get in the Wayback Machine a little bit. We started your story at Excel and Access, pre Power Pivot.
Derek Rickard (00:56:31): Oh, yeah. Don't forget Crystal Reports.
Rob Collie (00:56:32): And Crystal Reports. Ooh, yeah.
Thomas LaRock (00:56:36): It's like we're twins or something, because BusinessObjects, Crystal Reports, Access.
Derek Rickard (00:56:42): A lot of Sage, which wasn't Sage back then. MAS. Companies are using a lot of MAS 200 and so on.
Rob Collie (00:56:50): So let's rewind to your choice, dealer's choice, one or two points in your past. Either, the very beginning like what you were studying in school or whatever, or your first collision with Excel, with data. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that probably there's a point in your life where you'd have no idea that you were going to someday hold the title chief data officer.
Derek Rickard (00:57:16): Yeah, probably. That's accurate. So if we go way back to the Wayback Machine. I graduated with my degree in math. That's where I was. I started my master's program because I was going to be a teacher, not a secondary ed teacher, which there's special types of people that are great educators who do that, I wanted to do the college or university route, because I really didn't want to have that pressure on me about caring whether or not people come to class. I was like, "I just want to teach people who want to learn stuff. That sounds freaking awesome. And that's what I want to do."
Derek Rickard (00:57:48): And I went down that path then I discovered real quick that... Very shortly into my master's program, I'm like, "I don't think I want to do this. The pay off is not that good." There's not good pay for teachers, guys. I don't know if that already, but there isn't. And the other part of this was financial because I was an out-of-state student. So out-of-state tuition is more expensive. I somehow thought that I could get in-state tuition for my master's program because I had lived here for four years, but that did not work. So it was also on top of me being like, "Oh man, not only will this not quite work out in terms of pay, it won't be awesome for pay, but it also is going to cost me a lot more." And I was like, "Ugh." So I just stopped.
Derek Rickard (00:58:28): I was like, "I'll just pause it and I might come back to it." I spent a little bit of time for the next year, I was an interim coordinator for the Tutorial Center at Western. So I had worked at the Tutorial Center there my entire school career. So I tutored math and science and got to a point where I was a "lead tutor." That's in quotes, lead tutor, and would go to the classrooms and announced that we were at the Tutorial Center and we're here and you can come visit us and we'll, whatever. And it was really fun, and that's what got me my teaching book because I really didn't know before that. So I ran the Tutorial Center for about a year while they were looking for someone who had a master's degree.
Derek Rickard (00:59:04): But anyway, during that time, that's when I first started getting into Excel because we've got to do budgets. So I started budgeting in Excel, I was like, "Okay. Yeah, it's Excel, it's a grid." I knew it was there and I never used it. But once that job was over is when I got my job at Homax. So that job, that decision to go work be an office person at a manufacturing company was just like, "Hey, I need to have a job." So I took that one, and I at first worked as a sales support person, so I would help out the sales person, put together planograms or whatever they would need to do, I would help them out.
Derek Rickard (00:59:39): And sometimes that would include numbers, and that's when I was really getting more associated with Excel.
Rob Collie (00:59:44): It's not funny. So you're basically working for the math department at one point in time, which of course essentially never, never condescends to use a tool like Excel, right?
Thomas LaRock (00:59:56): Hold on.
Derek Rickard (00:59:57): They do. They do.
Rob Collie (00:59:59): Not in class.
Thomas LaRock (01:00:01): What need does a math major have for Excel?
Derek Rickard (01:00:06): We use MATLAB.
Rob Collie (01:00:06): Polenti. That's a dish by the way, Polenti.
Derek Rickard (01:00:08): Polenti.
Rob Collie (01:00:09): It's like a corn mash thing, but it's-
Derek Rickard (01:00:13): Oh, that's corny.
Rob Collie (01:00:14): Oh. Anyway, this is Wayne's story too. He's been teaching business analytics and not analytics, they didn't call it that, but he's teaching all this business stuff, and then in 1992, someone like nudges him to try doing some of this in Excel instead. And he's like, "Oh my God, this is just as effective if not more so, and I can make it more accessible to the students, then all of the crazy stuff I've been trying to teach them the abstract stuff." And he just goes all in on Excel as essentially as his math tool.
Derek Rickard (01:00:46): Well, that's awesome. That's cool.
Rob Collie (01:00:47): There probably wasn't a class in that master's program that you abandoned or course of study that involves spreadsheets.
Derek Rickard (01:00:55): No, there wasn't. Sorry, I hear car horn in the background.
Rob Collie (01:00:57): That's okay. That car horn is saying, "That's right, preach."
Derek Rickard (01:01:00): There was no Excel in the master's program. That's true.
Rob Collie (01:01:04): But then you're doing this administrative tasks for them, and suddenly now we've got to use a spreadsheet, it's the only thing that works.
Derek Rickard (01:01:12): And by the way, every other department is using the same thing. So everybody's using Excel.
Rob Collie (01:01:16): You didn't reach for MATLAB, you didn't reach for Mathematica, you didn't reach for linear matrices. I find something deliciously ironic that I like it.
Derek Rickard (01:01:28): It's true too. And I think I knew from an early age from my parents that there are jobs where your degree is tightly correlated with your profession, like a lawyer, they're going to have a Juris doctorate. Doctors, they're going to have their things, whatever they have, PhDs. So there's those. And then there are times when it's like, "Man, it doesn't really matter what your degrees." Those ties because you have a bachelor's degree. And that was what I did, I was like, "Okay, I'll go work at Homax because I have a bachelor's degree." And it turns out that that actually put me on my path of where I ended up.
Derek Rickard (01:02:01): And ultimately where I ended up was just teaching people again. I still love it. I took that job at Homax because I just needed a job, student loans were coming up and I needed to start paying them, that kind of thing. It just turns out that the path I went down with business intelligence, eventually business intelligence consulting, is just another form of teaching complex concepts, try to make them simple, deliver them to people. That pattern has always been there from the get-go, university on, which is really cool. And then now that I'm doing my thing, the CDO gig, I get to do that more too with just more people. It's a fun thing.
Rob Collie (01:02:34): So do you miss the freelance work? You mentioned that Source to Share still operates.
Derek Rickard (01:02:38): Yeah, it does. And I don't know if you've ever met Bo, but Bozeman's working with me since 2015. So he basically took on all the clients and still operates. I still get to have chats about cool stuff with our clients, stuff that they're doing.
Rob Collie (01:02:53): It's just like the Dread Pirate Roberts or the Dread Pirate Roberts for awhile. And then you take them on and then you kill all the crew and take on a new crew and then you're calling him Roberts?
Derek Rickard (01:03:02): Yes. That's what's happening. So he is Roberts and I am the old Robert. I'm realizing why you like this is because your name's all over the place. We're scrapping this.
Rob Collie (01:03:14): I'm not Robert.
Derek Rickard (01:03:15): Oh, Robert, Robert, Rob.
Rob Collie (01:03:17): I do not go by Robert, although you enter your name into a particular app, if you choose to use your full name, so now every time I go into Starbucks to pick up my coffee, I'm Robert.
Derek Rickard (01:03:32): Oh, there it is.
Thomas LaRock (01:03:32): You should change. You should change your Starbucks' name. That's easy.
Rob Collie (01:03:33): I don't want to risk that. The next thing I lose all my history.
Derek Rickard (01:03:35): What about your favorite drinks?
Thomas LaRock (01:03:36): No, no, no. Look, my Starbucks name is Sickle Rockstar. It isn't that difficult. I didn't lose any history. It's simple. You can do it in the app.
Rob Collie (01:03:44): I will be the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Thomas LaRock (01:03:46): Exactly. You need to have a unique Starbucks name. I can't just walk in there, "Coffee for Tom." There's like six people walking up. No, no.
Derek Rickard (01:03:55): I'm Tom, is it black coffee? Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:03:56): It is like six people waiting for black coffees.
Thomas LaRock (01:03:58): Exactly.
Derek Rickard (01:04:01): Oh, I will say that every once in a while I'll get invited to be a guest lecturer for the MBA program at Western to talk about BI, it's really fun to talk about BI strategy. So I do that about once a quarter.
Rob Collie (01:04:15): Is that like a one day thing or one hour or?
Derek Rickard (01:04:19): I just cram all of it in two hours, which is not long enough, but it's fine. So they just had me come in because they already are learning those things. So it's about having someone from the industry talk to those things, ask questions of me or whatever. And it's super fun, I do like that. And I do go over like SlideDeck, PowerPoint of some things, but for the most part, it's free conversation.
Rob Collie (01:04:40): It's quite rewarding. So you just go in there and say, "Yeah, here's what they'll tell you, and that's all. Here's the reality." You just do that over and over again?
Derek Rickard (01:04:48): When I'm invited to do a guest lecture, it's actually someone who I've worked with at Homax of all places, and he's also a teacher, he's also an instructor for the MBA programs. So that's cool because he also knows real world application. And I think that that's why he invites me because I see a lot of that. And there's a decent number of folks who are also working in the industry, half the time, it's for the executive MBA program. So these people are working full-time and then doing the MBA program on the weekends. So yeah, lots of questions come up and it's really fun to be challenged. I do like being challenged.
Rob Collie (01:05:19): Do you ever do any like open mic stand up?
Derek Rickard (01:05:22): No. No, I don't do any of that.
Rob Collie (01:05:24): Well, we have a couple of people on our team that do, I'm not one of them.
Derek Rickard (01:05:27): I would flop so hard at open mics.
Rob Collie (01:05:30): And they say the same thing. You've got to be willing to do that.
Derek Rickard (01:05:33): Yeah. I could not do that. I got a mic though. That's fun.
Rob Collie (01:05:36): You just need someone to set you up. That's the problem. It's like the scripted wouldn't be your thing.
Derek Rickard (01:05:40): No, I can't do that at all. You guys know, you're like, "Hey, can you repeat something?" And I'm like, "No, I can't do that. I'm so bad at it." The storage and retrieval in here, not working, not working at all.
Rob Collie (01:05:55): Speaking storage and retrieval, I'm definitely going to have to send you the link to the three-part Opus. On the previous episode, we're talking about how information is surprise. If no surprise, no information. You're probably going to find no information.
Derek Rickard (01:06:07): Okay. Well, that's fine.
Rob Collie (01:06:08): I don't think you're going to be surprised by anything in this three-part series. However, even if you don't, you'll be nodding going, "Yeah, okay. Preach. Yeah, that's the stuff there."
Derek Rickard (01:06:18): Yeah. That's cool. That's cool.
Rob Collie (01:06:19): I'd actually be legitimately interested to hear what you think about it.
Derek Rickard (01:06:22): Sure. I wanted to ask you something, Rob. Can I ask you something?
Rob Collie (01:06:26): Please.
Thomas LaRock (01:06:26): Oh, let's turn the table?
Derek Rickard (01:06:28): Tell me about P3. The thing is that whenever you and I do talk, which isn't that often, it's usually about something that's going on with P3. So tell me what's been happening for the last two years because that's, I think, the last time I talked to you and I unfortunately, I'm not on your website all the time, keeping up on updates.
Rob Collie (01:06:45): Well, we're not really blogging that much anymore either, you wouldn't necessarily notice a whole lot. We've finally changed our name, we finally dropped Power Pivot Pro completely.
Derek Rickard (01:06:55): P3 Adaptive.
Rob Collie (01:06:56): P3 Adaptive.
Derek Rickard (01:06:57): Yeah. When did that happen?
Rob Collie (01:06:58): Gosh, just a couple of weeks ago.
Derek Rickard (01:06:59): Oh, okay. Very recent.
Rob Collie (01:07:00): Yeah. Very, very recent.
Derek Rickard (01:07:02): I saw in the dot-coms of your emails and I'm like, "Oh, what is that?" But I'm like, "It makes sense."
Rob Collie (01:07:07): Yeah. It was just one of those changes you had to make sooner or later and it's never a fun time to make it, we've been waiting on it forever. I would say that a lot has happened since you and I really last caught up. Really, the mission hasn't changed. The mission has always been, "Let's follow this train of thought wherever it leads us." And the train of thought has been, "Let's go build scalable consulting operation that is dedicated to getting the most out of the new tools and the new methods." Most importantly, the new pace that the tools enable.
Rob Collie (01:07:43): The new pace isn't actually good for the traditional consulting business model. It's terrible for the traditional consulting business model. It's great for the customers.
Derek Rickard (01:07:54): Yeah. Because that's cheaper and faster.
Rob Collie (01:07:56): But the industry has relied on the projects being whales. And so it was like this stubborn belief that it could be done. And that goes hand in hand with an underestimation of how difficult it actually was. And so I was laughing with Wayne Winston and his wife who's also a professor, Vivian Winston at the Business School, and she said she worked with a lot of startups and I said, "Oh yeah, I see all those startups stories they tell you about there's someone with a really good idea, but they eventually hit a wall with it in terms of making it reality and how for years I would read those stories and go, 'Oh, those stories are about someone else, they're not about me.'"
Derek Rickard (01:08:41): You fool. It was all about you.
Rob Collie (01:08:44): And it turns out three years ago I found out that it was about me and that there was something missing, which is like a really disciplined approach to process, and software and human and all kinds of innovation. It's gone from being one of those things that used to strike me as boring and like, "Yeah, that's the person who's holding the clipboard." And I'm still not good at it. I'm still not the one that you would assign to be good at it. But the thing is, I have developed a tremendous respect and actually even an interest and a fascination with it.
Rob Collie (01:09:13): It's like in 2007 Excel, one of the things that was up for grabs to work on was you could be the program manager who was going to redesign the printing experience in Excel. And I was like, "Boring. I want nothing to do with that." I didn't end up working on it and someone else did. And by the time they were done with it, I was like, "Oh, actually that was a very fascinating problem. That was a lot of really interesting, valuable stuff to be done there." And it's just like that same thing for me, the ability to scale and have a strong business model while at the same time delivering what can be delivered for clients at maximum speed, I really do believe that we have cracked that riddle now.
Derek Rickard (01:09:59): Nice. Good job.
Rob Collie (01:10:02): And it's a difficult thing. It's like a moat behind us.
Derek Rickard (01:10:05): And Source of Share was a similar thing, hardly a competitor, but similar in the structure of like, we're not interested in even software license, agreements, partnerships, any of that stuff, we just want to help you out and we will do it for a low budget. Obviously, we're paying ourselves, I'm just saying, there's no reason to spend six, seven figures on BI, there's definitely no reason to do that.
Rob Collie (01:10:29): And have it suck as well. How about spend less, get it done faster and better. Does that sound good? Does that sound like a good idea? Are you all right with that? We can make it take longer if you want, but we don't.
Derek Rickard (01:10:42): If you want, you can blow through a bunch of budget, but probably you don't need to.
Rob Collie (01:10:46): And our effective hourly rate isn't the cheapest on the planet, but it the project cost is so low because of the pace.
Derek Rickard (01:10:53): That's actually something that was very often asked like, "Why do you charge so much?" And actually, I don't think I charge so much, but people ask that still. Back when I would be talking to someone who just got my name offline somewhere, they're like, "Oh, you're going to have to come do contract work for us." I'm like, "No, I'm not going to do contract work, I'm a consultant. So that does mean something different." I know it's maybe tiny, but I'm like, "It's different because you guys will do the work, I'll just teach your team or whatever. And yeah, it's expensive, but we work faster, it won't be as much in the end." That's cool. That's good that you cracked that nut. You got some help there?
Rob Collie (01:11:26): Oh yeah. So you can go back and listen to one of the other episodes of the show, Kellan Danielson.
Derek Rickard (01:11:33): Mr. Kellan.
Rob Collie (01:11:34): Yeah. He has been the architect, not the only person doing it, certainly more than any other single person, Kellan is responsible for that second phase of cracking this riddle.
Derek Rickard (01:11:46): That's awesome. That's great. And he's your president, right?
Rob Collie (01:11:48): Yeah.
Derek Rickard (01:11:49): That's great. It's good to know when to handoff that portion of the business. Source to Share has always been a boutique style BI shop. We're not scaling or anything like that, but if that were the case, I know I wouldn't be the person to do that part. To do the business development part, to do the sales part, any of that stuff. It's not me, and in Source to Share, I probably will forever be disconnected from that. It'll just be a word of mouth thing. If for some reason someone wants to link in for sales and do whatever, that's fine, but it's been doing okay. But I really jazzed about P3 Adaptive, cracking that code and actually giving these traditional BI shops a run for their money because they're ripping people off.
Rob Collie (01:12:32): I agree. And we plan to be very large.
Derek Rickard (01:12:35): Cool, cool.
Rob Collie (01:12:36): The world needs it and it's that old fashioned notion of like, "Hey, let's make our money in the world by making the world better."
Derek Rickard (01:12:43): Yeah. That's great. I know, crazy.
Rob Collie (01:12:47): Or really, we should just be like monetizing people's data. That's what we should be doing, we should just be tracking their every move.
Derek Rickard (01:12:54): Sell to someone, sell it.
Rob Collie (01:12:55): That's the move these days. No one's going to become a billionaire doing what we do.
Thomas LaRock (01:13:00): Nobody gets rich by helping others, come on.
Rob Collie (01:13:03): No, it's not going to happen.
Thomas LaRock (01:13:05): Think of it. Think of it. The Rothschild, the Gettys.
Rob Collie (01:13:08): People all become philanthropists at some point in their lives. That's the reputation laundering phase of their lives.
Thomas LaRock (01:13:15): Later in life, like Rockefeller later. Let me just rule everybody first.
Rob Collie (01:13:21): Yeah. And I'm keeping one eye on Gates. I'm watching you, Bill.
Thomas LaRock (01:13:29): So you guys had asked the question earlier that didn't get answered. It was, where does data come from? You guys were talking about where data-
Rob Collie (01:13:36): Where does data just in general come from?
Thomas LaRock (01:13:38): I'm going to tell you, it's when two text files love each other very much and they decide that maybe it's time to become a spreadsheet. And then from there, there's a lot of the different ways that they could end up being Excel or Access, or just buried on the SharePoint page, and it just evolves from there. That's where data comes from.
Rob Collie (01:13:59): That's how it all starts.
Thomas LaRock (01:14:00): That's how it all starts.
Derek Rickard (01:14:01): Rob, I had this weird connection with Kellan. Do you know where Kellen learned Power Pivot?
Rob Collie (01:14:06): Columbia.
Derek Rickard (01:14:07): Yes. Not college, Columbia. Do you know who he learned that from?
Rob Collie (01:14:11): No.
Derek Rickard (01:14:11): Well, actually, I don't know if he can take full credit, but I'm assuming that he at least showed him Power Pivot, which is this guy named Mark Bennett. Mark is a good friend of mine. He was actually the person who was hired to be my replacement at Homax, which is weird. So he was hired to be my replacement at Homax, I showed him Power Pivot. He worked for Columbia, showed Kellan Power Pivot. And now he's the president of your company. That's fun.
Rob Collie (01:14:35): Damn. That's the circle of life right there.
Derek Rickard (01:14:37): Well, you taught me Power Pivot.
Rob Collie (01:14:38): I know.
Derek Rickard (01:14:39): This all come back.
Rob Collie (01:14:39): It's like, "How does this happen?" And now, Kellan is better at all this stuff than I am.
Derek Rickard (01:14:43): Hell yeah. That's the best.
Rob Collie (01:14:45): We made three right turns and never crossed our original path. How did we do that? That's great. It's like extra-spacial geometry here.
Derek Rickard (01:14:53): Yeah. That's a wonderful.
Thomas LaRock (01:14:54): Non-Newtonian.
Rob Collie (01:14:55): Derek, this was long overdue. I'm so glad we did this. It's been a pleasure reconnecting with you.
Derek Rickard (01:15:00): Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Announcer (01:15:02): Thanks for listening to the Raw Data by P3 Adaptive Podcast. Let the experts at P3 Adaptive help your business. Just go to p3adaptive.com. Have a data day.
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