Raw Data By P3 Adaptive
Scrubbing Data & Beating COVID, w/ Matt Selig of Bar Keepers Friend
Exec. Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Human Resources Officer at SerVaas LabsListen Now:
Matt Selig wears many hats at SerVaas Labs, maker of Bar Keepers Friend (BKF). When facing pain points to running more efficiently before COVID struck, Matt knew how he wanted the BKF data to look, but he wasn’t sure how to get there. Enter his relationship with P3 Adaptive that began in February 2020. Matt kept the in-demand cleaning product of a post-COVID world top of mind and easily accessible with the help of customized and integrated dashboards to read real-time data for better business decisions. Read the BKF/P3 Adaptive Case Study here!
3:55 – The fascinating history of Bar Keepers Friend and founder Beurt SerVaas
5:50 – People’s excited reactions to BKF are similar to people’s excited reactions to Power BI
9:50 – Matt’s many hats that he wears – From forklift driver to Executive Vice President, from curating and caretaking the Bar Keepers Friend Museum to BI Director- he does it all!
13:40 – Matt’s history with Excel and how new tech and software was (and still sometimes is) shunned by the C-Suite
21:45 – A frustrating Pain Point that led Matt to the Power BI and P3 Adaptive path, and the infamous Cocktail Napkin Dashboard Sketch
26:35 – Discovering Power BI was like discovering fire, and the ever-present pushback by the status quo
29:20 – The sociological aspect of large and small corporations, and The Dunbar Number-the rule of how many people one can maintain cognitive relationships with effectively
32:45 – The concept of one version of the truth is essential in answering vital business questions
39:30 – Matt Selig could be the Nostradamus of the modern age. He implemented Power BI at SerVaas Labs in February 2020, and it was truly the better way in the post-COVID world. He also managed to avoid some predatory “huckster” consultants before he partnered with P3
45:05 – Rob’s crucial BI project timeline advice for 2021, Matt the BI and Power Platform sponge, and how SerVaas Labs and P3 Adaptive work together to create amazing reports
55:50 – A peek inside of what’s coming for Servaas Labs and Bar Keeper’s Friend in 2021 is Enterprise level stuff
Rob Collie (00:00:00): Welcome, friends. For our first podcast of 2021, we welcome Matt Selig, Chief Financial Officer at SerVaas Labs, AKA Bar Keepers Friend. By now, you know that we don't explicitly call this a Power BI Podcast. Most of our guests absolutely are users of Power BI. And while that's 100% true for Matt, I think his journey highlights a handful of themes, really important themes that we might not have punched quite as cleanly as we need to in the past. And one of those themes is escaping the status quo.
Rob Collie (00:00:40): Oftentimes when people ask me, "Who are your competitors, Rob?" I'll usually give them an answer that they don't quite expect. There's other consulting companies out there that we compete with. There are other software products out there that compete with the Microsoft products that we use. But really the number one competitor is people just sticking with the status quo of what they have, people accepting the way that they've done it forever. And you'll hear in the conversation just how much Matt agonized with exactly this problem for years, and also how much better things got when he finally did decide to truly break away from the status quo.
Rob Collie (00:01:17): Another really important theme that I think comes out in this conversation is you do not need massive budgets. You don't need a massive team anymore to be effective at BI. Even though Bar Keepers Friend is a national and really internationally recognized brand, they're not like a Fortune 500 enterprise sort of outfit. They're a relatively lean mid-size company. And like a lot of us, you'll see that Matt has historically and continues to wear many, many, many more than one hat in his job. And they have seen some truly enormous benefits from their adoption of Power BI at their company.
Rob Collie (00:01:54): The last theme is the timelines. Those enormous benefits that they've been realizing have been happening at break that pace. You don't need large teams and you don't need long timelines and huge budgets anymore. You can get those wins. When you set your mind to breaking away from that status quo, the pace at which you can move and the quality of the results you get can really, really surprise you. I know I have found Matt's story to be inspiring and encouraging, and I hope you will as well. So let's get into it.
Announcer (00:02:30): Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please?
Announcer (00:02:34): This is the Raw Data by P3 Podcast with your host, Rob Collie. Find out what the experts at P3 can do for your business. Go to powerpivotpro.com. Raw Data by P3 is data with the human element.
Rob Collie (00:02:50): Welcome to the show, Matt Selig of Bar Keepers Friends/SerVaas Labs. How are you doing today, Matt?
Matt Selig (00:02:57): I'm doing great.
Rob Collie (00:02:58): Good, good, good. Glad you're here. We got a lot of things to talk about so let's get into it. Let's start with the boring professional stuff first. So you're CFO at SerVaas Labs.
Matt Selig (00:03:09): Yeah. I've been the CFO here for a little over 20 years.
Rob Collie (00:03:13): That's a long... People don't stay in jobs that long anymore. That's an outlier, isn't it?
Matt Selig (00:03:17): Yeah, definitely, but that's typical here. We'd have at least five people who have been here longer than 40 years.
Rob Collie (00:03:24): Wow.
Matt Selig (00:03:25): And when we hire people, I like to say, "What's our 20-year plan for this person? I don't want them to just come work for a week or a year."
Rob Collie (00:03:33): Wow. "What's our 20-year plan?" We tend to think in terms of like, "What are we going to do with this new person in the first three months?"
Matt Selig (00:03:42): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:03:42): That's our horizon. Not because we're expecting to be rid of them in three months. That is a very different mindset. I like it. So is it fair to say that SerVaas Labs is the owner of the Bar Keepers Friend product and brand, or is the manufacturer? How do you describe that?
Matt Selig (00:03:58): Beurt SerVaas was the person who founded the company in 1957. He was a OSS agent in World War II. He fought in China against the Japanese. And then after World War II, he fought against the communists until about 1953. He bought the brand in 1957 when they were selling about $5,000 a year with the Bar Keepers Friend, because his grandmother used a Bar Keepers Friend and he had a small plating shop. And people would say, "What are you used to clean the stuff you're doing with the silver plating for us, for her?" And he'd say, "My grandmother used Bar Keepers Friend." He found out the guy that owned it at that time wanted to sell it, so he bought the company.
Rob Collie (00:04:40): So he waged war against the Japanese. Then he waged war against the communist. And then he turned his sights to varnish. "Yeah, we're going to put an end to grime."
Matt Selig (00:04:52): That's right.
Rob Collie (00:04:55): So when we talk about Bar Keepers Friend, what is the core product?
Matt Selig (00:04:58): When I got here in 1999, about 80% of the core product was the original product that was invented in 1882, the powdered cleanser that had an abrasive, a soap, and oxalic acid in it and not much more. That had been invented in 1882. It was basically unchanged for the next almost 120 years. And they had a couple small other little product lines that didn't amount too much, but I think now the powder's about 50% of our sales because we've added new products and grown those.
Rob Collie (00:05:33): Diversified. Yeah.
Matt Selig (00:05:35): That's right. Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:05:36): When we first met, you had registered for one of our classes under the SerVaas Labs name.
Matt Selig (00:05:43): Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Collie (00:05:44): You don't register as being from Bar Keepers Friend, you know?
Matt Selig (00:05:47): Right.
Rob Collie (00:05:48): But we started talking about it. I didn't really even know that Bar Keepers Friend existed, but then I came home and asked my wife if she knows about it. And we have a can. We had a can. We already had one in the house, you know?
Matt Selig (00:06:00): Right.
Rob Collie (00:06:00): It was already... We were equipped.
Matt Selig (00:06:02): A good abbreviation for Bar Keepers Friend is BKF. If you're an insider, that's what you know how to call it.
Rob Collie (00:06:08): Yeah. So I came home. I discovered that we had a can of BKF. And then I pulled the team at P3. And half the team not only knew about it, their first response was, "Oh my God, that stuff's awesome." Not, "Yeah, I know about it and I use it," which is sort of the expectation you would have for a cleaning product, right? But you don't expect that kind of emotional positive reaction about a cleaning product.
Matt Selig (00:06:35): I used to be really surprised. I used to live just a mile from our factory. Our HOA would have annual night out where they would rent a bounce house for the kids. I'd always bring a couple cases of BKF to give away. I remember one of them across the field, I heard this woman yelling, "Bar Keepers Friend! Oh my God! I just wrote a research paper about that at school. I had no idea it was just made up mile from where I live." I've encountered that same kind of reaction. At HR seminar, a woman in front of me asked me where I worked and I said, "Bar Keepers Friend." And the woman behind me started yelling, "Oh my God! Bar Keepers Friend saved my life." I can't think of any other clean product that people get excited about, enthusiastically excited about for whatever reason they do about Bar Keepers Friend. I've seen it over and over and over.
Rob Collie (00:07:27): Yeah. I mean, it's kind of like what I say about Power BI. You don't typically expect people to rave about a piece of software, especially kind of "normal people." It's one thing to have some professional computer science programmer or developer rave about a new integrated development environment or a new development framework. You expect that kind of fanboy nerdery, right?
Matt Selig (00:07:53): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:07:53): But amongst sort of the civilian population, you don't typically encounter people that just say, "Oh my God! It changed my life or saved my life" or, "Wow!" You just don't gush about software, you know?
Matt Selig (00:08:07): Now that you say that, I've noticed that with the Power BI reports that we have, the very first day when we had a sales report up and running, I could hear people down the hallway gasping when they saw what we had. "Oh my God! I can't believe it." And we've had that same experience that we have at Bar Keepers Friend or BKF.
Rob Collie (00:08:25): Well, we got to be careful. We don't want to get too many unexpectedly positive things in one place. If we got the cleaning product and the software and it's just one more, it might open a worm hole and then we're all gone. Got to watch that.
Rob Collie (00:08:38): You mention down the hall. It's been really fascinating for me. I've called it like the extended 10 year, now 11 year field trip, where I was allowed to leave the Microsoft Redmond bubble, the dome, and go out in the real world. For the last 11 years, I've been a free range nerd and able to meet all kinds of cool people. Just so many things about the world that are so surprising.
Rob Collie (00:09:02): So here's a product, a brand that is super well known. As far as I can tell, it's about 50% of all human beings that I run into know what it is, right? That's a hard thing to be. That's a big deal. And SerVaas Labs, you're 100% in this one facility here outside Indianapolis.
Matt Selig (00:09:27): That's right.
Rob Collie (00:09:27): It's kind of like when I got to Microsoft and I expected to find that there were 200 people working on Excel, and it was more like 40 top, maybe even 30. It was just stunning that so few people could be behind something with such weight in the world. You're not just CFO, you run an impressively lean headquarters staff for a brand this big, which means wearing lots of hats. So what else... You don't just do CFO things, right?
Matt Selig (00:10:02): Sure.
Rob Collie (00:10:02): You end up having to do a lot of stuff.
Matt Selig (00:10:05): For a long time, I was our chief human resource officer also, because originally they needed somebody who could pass out dental insurance applications and there was nobody. And so I said, "I'll do that. Somebody's got to do it." And so I got wrapped up in HR work. And then finally it got too big. That's why I was in an HR seminar because I needed to know more about HR. It got so big, I needed somebody to do that for me. But in the time I've worked here, I've worked on the production line, I've driven forklifts, I've crawled under machines. I've done everything. Everything. Including the curator of our museum.
Rob Collie (00:10:44): That's right. That's right. I have been to the Bar Keepers Friend Museum. On a previous podcast, we made it an ongoing joke about this one museum that I'd gone to in Sweden, the Vasa Museum. I didn't even think out the fact that I have really been to a very exclusive museum.
Matt Selig (00:11:00): That's right.
Rob Collie (00:11:01): The Bar Keepers Friend Museum.
Matt Selig (00:11:03): We need one of those penny rollers where you put your penny in and roll it out, then it makes a long oval penny that says BKF on it [crosstalk 00:11:11] BKF Museum.
Rob Collie (00:11:11): That's right. That's right. This would be one of the most exclusive trinkets in the entire world.
Matt Selig (00:11:20): That's what's so cool about the museum though. We have artifacts that go back to the 1880s and we have letters that the person who invented Bar Keepers Friend wrote that we've got off of eBay. I think it helps... Every employee gets to go see that museum and they get to see that. The 20 years I've been here is just... We've been the caretakers for a couple of decades. We talk about, "What do we do so that Bar Keepers Friend is around in the next 100 years?" We don't think about the quarterly earnings report and the conference call with all the Wall Street types. We just think how to build a solid business and caretake it while it's ours.
Rob Collie (00:12:03): It's still a privately owned.
Matt Selig (00:12:05): That's right.
Rob Collie (00:12:05): That's another thing that you wouldn't expect, right? You'd expect Bar Keepers Friend to be owned by one of the consumer packaged goods Goliaths, right?
Matt Selig (00:12:14): Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Collie (00:12:15): Like a Unilever or something like that. And it's not.
Matt Selig (00:12:18): Yeah, that's true.
Rob Collie (00:12:18): It gives you a different kind of freedom as a company, doesn't it?
Matt Selig (00:12:23): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:12:23): But as we're talking about it, it also restricts your resources.
Matt Selig (00:12:28): Yeah, definitely.
Rob Collie (00:12:28): And so, you mentioned all these jobs like forklift driver and all of that. Those are pretty cool. But the one of course I was fishing for was, without the title, you were also de facto BI director.
Matt Selig (00:12:42): That's right. Uh-huh (affirmative). Yeah, it is, because everybody would come and ask me questions.
Rob Collie (00:12:49): Yeah.
Matt Selig (00:12:49): That opens up. BI just isn't what's in your software. I've got to be the guy who knows everything about everything or can get the answer really fast whether it's in an Excel spreadsheet or in a file somewhere or in somebody's head or in a PDF I saved 10 years ago. That's what always been my job is, kind of like the curator of our information.
Rob Collie (00:13:11): Yeah. You were responsible for essentially developing the reports that answered your own questions, but also developing reports that answered basically everyone else's questions about what's going on in your business. And for what? You've been there for more than 20 years?
Matt Selig (00:13:29): Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Collie (00:13:30): What is it? Is it 19 and a fraction that was 100% Excel essentially? Or not 100%, but overwhelmingly, Excel as the tool of choice?
Matt Selig (00:13:40): Yeah. My first introduction to Excel was in August of 1995 when I started my first accounting job. My boss at that time had a... It was at an Apple II, the little square Apple II with the black and white screen.
Rob Collie (00:13:55): Oh, yeah.
Matt Selig (00:13:56): He said, "This is Excel." He said, "This is how you type a formula." And I learned equals A1 plus B1, return. That was my first earliest memory of Excel. But when I first got to Bar Keepers Friend... And there were some other companies associated with that. We still had a mail person that push the mail dolly around the offices. They didn't have email for employees here when I got here.
Rob Collie (00:14:22): Wow.
Matt Selig (00:14:23): The CEO had four secretaries that transcribed memos all day long, dictated but not read. And finally, she didn't want to hear about email. They were World War II generation. They didn't see the point. And they had a... What is it? A phone system, a PBX. It started crashing because people were bringing their AOL login information and tying up the phone line so they could get on the internet at work.
Rob Collie (00:14:51): Wow.
Matt Selig (00:14:52): In my previous job, we'd had a T1-line in 1995. So I was like, "This is email. This is old news," you know? But she didn't want to hear about it until she couldn't make a phone call because there weren't any lines available on her PBX and we got our first internet connection at these businesses. And before that, all the accounting was done on the big 2-foot wide dot matrix printers. She didn't want to hear about charts and graphs and Excel and stuff like that. The depreciation journals were books, physical books that you had to write on the ledger depreciation entries.
Rob Collie (00:15:30): They just didn't need any of that fancy new fangled technology to beat the commies, did they?
Matt Selig (00:15:35): That's right.
Rob Collie (00:15:35): Yeah, it wasn't necessary to beat the commies. "It's not necessary to run our business" until y'all staged an unintentional denial of service attack on her telephone.
Matt Selig (00:15:51): Yeah. That was kind of when they first saw that, "Hey, maybe the internet really is something new." I remember I showed her a stock chart that I got off of newyorktimes.com. She was just fascinated that I could get that information myself and have it in seconds, where before it would've took her half in an afternoon to call her broker and get the information.
Rob Collie (00:16:13): I look forward to the day where people like you and I, we will also be stubbornly refusing to adopt this, whatever the new thing is, like we're... For the moment, I still feel a little bit revolutionary. I'm still pushing something that the world hasn't come close to fully adopting yet. I can tell myself I'm current for the moment.
Matt Selig (00:16:34): I mean, that's something that stuck with me that you've said that Power BI isn't the new latest, greatest thing. It's been around for seven or eight years, I think. And Excel is still the gold standard. And then I say, "I use Excel every day, and so I'm not knocking it." But one thing I've had to do since I got acquainted with Power BI is to learn how to really use Excel and not how I was using it for the last 20 years. It's a challenge in our own business now. I was just talking with somebody this morning. They got the sales information from Amazon, our biggest e-commerce customer. The tables, the report that they got off of Amazon's website was a mess. And I think Amazon does that on purpose. I probably shouldn't record that.
Rob Collie (00:17:15): We're safe here. By the time Amazon comes for us, we'll all be well established.
Matt Selig (00:17:21): But she would open an Excel page and then she'd open her browser window with a report in it. And then for the next four hours, she'd look at the Amazon page and then move over to the Excel window and type the number in, and then moved back and forth. And our intern, the same intern, put an Excel report that automated that task where all she had to do was cut and paste. It cut down that four hour job, once a month job, to 30 seconds and made it more accurate. And so, that old model of typing in a two columns of data, column A is the date and column B is the number and then you type a formula, equals B1 plus C1, that's what I've learned.
Matt Selig (00:18:08): What I now see is the model is, that you use Excel as a data manipulation tool to automatically bring data in and then manipulate it once you get it there to answer questions you have, rather than manual entering the data all yourself. That was the way I did it 20 years ago.
Rob Collie (00:18:25): Was that intern project there, was that a Power Query script?
Matt Selig (00:18:29): I just saw the spreadsheet on... She shared the screen with me this morning so I'm not sure how he did it, but I don't believe he used Power Query, which I'm also kind of in the midst of... I'm working through M Is for Data Monkey right now to try to get-
Rob Collie (00:18:44): You hear that? Ken Puls.
Matt Selig (00:18:47): Yeah. Yeah. I don't know exactly how he did it. And I wanted to see that. But last night I couldn't sleep and I was texting my wife. You probably can't see this in the podcast, but there's a picture from M IS for Data Monkey.
Rob Collie (00:19:07): You were texting your wife pictures while you were awake and she was asleep so that she see them in the morning when she woke up?
Matt Selig (00:19:13): Right.
Rob Collie (00:19:16): Now, this is kind of the communication we never would've envisioned, you know?
Matt Selig (00:19:20): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:19:21): I do that too.
Matt Selig (00:19:24): I've been trying to learn a new way to use Excel. I don't manually enter the data. If I'm finding myself manually entering the data, I'm doing something wrong. What I'm trying to learn is how to get the data into it, automatically clean it, something like Power Query. And then use some kind of magic like Power Pivot or Power BI to make it answer questions. I haven't quite figured out how to describe that yet but it's like I consider learning the right way to use Excel.
Rob Collie (00:19:55): Mm-hmm (affirmative). We talk a lot about using the new tools, whether it's Power BI or whether it's the Power BI related tools that are now embedded in Excel. We call it "Being good to your future self."
Matt Selig (00:20:09): Yeah, definitely.
Rob Collie (00:20:10): Even the four hour transcription, it might be that it would take more than four hours to learn a better way.
Matt Selig (00:20:17): Right.
Rob Collie (00:20:17): So the short term incentive is to do it the old manual way, but that's because it's current me thinking about current me.
Matt Selig (00:20:27): Right.
Rob Collie (00:20:27): Current me needs to think about future me and be nicer to future me, because it turns out we're actually the same person. Well, so let's back up a little bit because there's something about your journey that I think is both admirable and very interesting. And at the same time, at least in our business, we have the privilege of seeing this with some frequency. This probably goes back about two years for you. You can correct me on that. But there's this moment where you just sort of came to the conclusion that there has got to be a better way.
Matt Selig (00:20:58): Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Collie (00:20:59): And to come to that conclusion without knowing about a particular better way, just knowing in the absence of something that's crystallized in front of you, I think it's not the rarest thing in the world, but it's not a common leap either that you can become convinced of this without actually seeing an example of what that better thing is. You just know there has to be something better.
Matt Selig (00:21:23): Right.
Rob Collie (00:21:23): And you're convinced enough of it that you go looking.
Matt Selig (00:21:27): Yeah, the intern that we got from Indiana University, he looked at what the lady was doing with that Amazon information. He said, "Well, I took Wayne Winston's class and I can fix this in five minutes." So the younger generation gets it. They don't have to go through this process. But that was a problem for years when I think I've told you that I'd sit in a meeting and people would ask me a question how many widgets did we buy in the last six months, what do they cost, and how many did we use. And by the time I got an answer, the discussion had changed topics three or four times. And I'd back up and say, "Hey, wait, I've got the answers to the question you asked five minutes ago." So that was a pain point. Another point you brought up is that people just stopped asking questions when they know they can't get an answer.
Rob Collie (00:22:10): Yeah.
Matt Selig (00:22:11): It's going to take half a day to get an answer that they just don't bother to ask. That was a pain point. There's got to be a better way. And then it's right. I never heard of Power BI. I only vaguely knew what a pivot table was. I've taken a tutorial on VLOOKUP and my wife laughs at me because she says, "When I met you, you said you knew how to write the formula for a VLOOKUP, but you couldn't imagine when you would ever need to use it."
Rob Collie (00:22:40): That's funny, because looking at a lot of the spreadsheets that you were producing before Power BI, I found them to be pretty sophisticated.
Matt Selig (00:22:49): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:22:49): So by the time you were about to jump to Power BI, I was under the distinct impression that you were... Excel did whatever you wanted it to do at that point.
Matt Selig (00:23:00): Well, I was the guy who, if anybody had an Excel question, they came to ask. I've taken Ivy Tech at a local college here in Indianapolis. That's the online: beginning, intermediate, and advanced Excel classes. I took them all. I always take a tutorial. What I was trying to describe earlier, I wasn't using Excel the way it was supposed to be used as a data manipulation tool. I was using it as a manual, like a manual ledger almost. I'd make all my chicken scratches in Excel and then write formula that's going to answer questions or I'd make a chart. I wasn't really doing data analysis in it.
Rob Collie (00:23:36): I'm going to step in and say, I think you're probably beating yourself up a little bit too much there. The thing that's beautiful about Excel is that it can kind of do whatever you want. It doesn't mean that it can do it efficiently.
Matt Selig (00:23:50): Right.
Rob Collie (00:23:50): You can get from A to B. It just might involve traversing the Grand Canyon down one side and up the other barefoot. I don't really think of you as having misuse it. I just think that it wasn't really a good fit for the things you actually need.
Matt Selig (00:24:05): Yeah. And that pain point of to get an answer, it'd take a half a day so people just wouldn't ask the question. Excel, even now, a year and a half into this, it's the first program I open in the morning. I've spent a couple hours just today already doing different stuff in Excel. It's like an all day long, "You can't live without it" kind of thing.
Rob Collie (00:24:28): We're coming for those remaining two hours. To be down to two hours is pretty good, but we can still do better.
Matt Selig (00:24:34): That pain point in knowing what I want but not knowing how to do it I think was what was frustrating. I've told you the story. I remember there was a break in your class back in January. And I came up and threw my backpack on the floor and pulled my folder out and said, "Look, man, this is what we need." I've drawn it. [inaudible 00:24:55] I said, "This is what I need. Can we do this?" And you were like, "Yeah, sure, whatever."
Rob Collie (00:25:00): Yeah. I think that the word that you kind of coalesced around after realizing there's got to be a better way, I think the word was dashboards. We need to be using dashboards. That's sort of like the first refinement. Is that correct? Do I remember that correctly? Or am I putting words in your mouth?
Matt Selig (00:25:19): That's probably pretty close, because as the story goes, I walked past my wife's bookshelf and saw the orange Microsoft book, Analyzing Data in Microsoft Power BI and Power Pivot, I think. I just opened that book up and within a few minutes I realized "This is what I've been looking for." At some point, I drew that sales dashboard and said "This is the kind of sales dashboard I think we need." I just kind of on a whim grabbed a piece of paper and drew it. I didn't know how to actualize that, how to make a dashboard actually work, but I knew it could be done. I didn't know how to do it.
Rob Collie (00:25:52): It wasn't on a cocktail napkin. It was on real paper. But I kind of like to describe it as the cocktail napkin dashboard sketch that you carried around with you at all times. Like just in case you run into the person that you can show this picture to and they can go, "Ah, we'll connect that with the actual way forward."
Matt Selig (00:26:12): Yeah. I was like a lunatic walking around murdering. "We need this dashboard. This dashboard is going to change everything."
Rob Collie (00:26:23): It reaches the point where people when they're about to meet you, like the person out front that's opening the door, [inaudible 00:26:30] just sort of takes him aside and said, "Listen, don't let him get the sketch out."
Matt Selig (00:26:36): Anybody can find 100 little tutorials on Power BI on YouTube. I'd gone through a couple of those. And I was like, "Oh, that's really cool." You have a "This is what a data model is. This is how you link the tables. This is the common key. This is how you flip that and make a chart or a matrix or a pie chart in Power BI." And then I would see and be like, "Wow, yeah, this is it. This is it." And then I'd look in our accounting system and there were, I don't know, 800 tables in there. I had no idea what to do. I was utterly lost. I knew the answer was in there, but I didn't know how to find it.
Matt Selig (00:27:12): But I ran across your book at a bookstore up by where we live. I started researching P3 and listening to some of your maybe podcasts on YouTube.You said something that always stick with me in one of that podcast that was, I don't know, maybe seven years old at this point where the person inside the organization that stumbles across this stuff feels like they discovered fire and they take it back and they show everybody they work with and say, "Look, I've discovered fire" and everybody's like, "Yeah, yeah, whatever." They keep entering these numbers in Excel. As Stephen Covey says, "The leader climbs up to the top of the tree and says, 'Wrong forest'. And everybody down at the bottom is chopping trees down, says, 'Shut up! We're making progress'."
Rob Collie (00:28:05): Man, that's great. You can apply it to the fire thing too, right?
Matt Selig (00:28:10): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:28:10): It's like, "Hey, listen, we'd love to hear about your fire, but we're over here chewing on this raw meat. It takes a really long time to eat it. We can't be bothered to hear about your fire thing," you know?
Matt Selig (00:28:24): Right. Yeah, not invented here.
Rob Collie (00:28:28): It just the status quo is just so powerful. And that's kind of what I was getting at when I said like, realizing there's got to be a better way even though you don't know exactly what it is yet and then going looking for it. That's not super common. It's almost like there's so many things that converge here. It's like almost no one ever gets fired or otherwise penalized for doing the same thing that the company did yesterday.
Matt Selig (00:28:54): Right.
Rob Collie (00:28:55): There's kind of no risk there in a way, just staying in that rut. You have to rock the boat and you have to take some risks. Maybe that's greater risks in certain cases than others. I don't get the impression that anyone was particularly upset with you or bothered by your desire for something new. But in some organizations, that absolutely happens. You're going to face explicit headwinds sometimes.
Matt Selig (00:29:18): Well, I'm lucky to be in a high position in the organization. That's one thing about a small company. You can have your fingers in the whole thing. If I was in, I don't know, a big corporation like Microsoft, I could be office number 530C in a small Midwestern town in the middle of nowhere and just one of 80,000 people, you know?
Rob Collie (00:29:40): Yeah.
Matt Selig (00:29:41): But here I can just walk down the hallway to the owner and say, "Hey, this is what I'm thinking about." And then I can walk out to the factory and look around. I can walk to the accounting department. So I was fortunate in that sense.
Rob Collie (00:29:55): Well, human beings are really built primarily to operate at short range, like with people that you can see face to face, with things that you can touch. It's like the massive organization of a corporation is almost like a mutation, you know?
Matt Selig (00:30:11): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:30:11): This ability to... I forget the author's name. But the book Sapiens-
Matt Selig (00:30:16): I've heard of it.
Rob Collie (00:30:16): ... talks a lot about this and how it requires this incredible... It's basically a religion. It's how the book presents it. You need this ridiculously strong basically fictional belief that the corporation is an entity in order to rewire people to cooperate at distance that they can't see. You could call it old fashion, but we want to call it something different. We want to reflect... It's like the natural way to work, is sort of the right the kind of environment that you're in.
Matt Selig (00:30:45): Right.
Rob Collie (00:30:46): Of course the downside is, is that at that scale, you're also for a while the HR director.
Matt Selig (00:30:52): Yeah. Sociology has a concept called the Dunbar limit where it says people can only maintain a stable relationship with about 150 people. It's always been interesting to me because I was in the army for a long time. The army segmented itself into basically 120 person units at the company level. And somehow they got onto the idea that once you have 120 people, you can't really have real relationships with 121 people.
Rob Collie (00:31:21): It might not have been deliberate. We could take an evolutionary standpoint here and say "All the armies that tried to organize in groups larger than that, they got beat."
Matt Selig (00:31:30): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:31:32): They're gone.
Matt Selig (00:31:33): I think it's Patagonia that says "We're going to keep our facilities within the Dunbar limit. Once we get a 121 or 151, whatever it is, people, we're going to be build a new facility because it's difficult to maintain a social cohesiveness with a bigger group of people." And that's a challenge we face at SerVaas Labs because our sales increased 60% during the pandemic. We make cleaning products. We went from 70 employees to 105 employees. And now I walk through the factory and I see people that I don't know who they are. I don't know if they work here. I don't know anything about them other than there's some person in the building. And we're kind of approaching that limit. It's a challenge to think, "How do we remain SerVaas Laboratories, whatever the Dunbar limit is, when everybody can't have a face to face relationship anymore with everybody here?" That's kind of a big challenge right now.
Rob Collie (00:32:28): For what it's worth, I suspect that everyone has a slightly different number for their Dunbar, you know?
Matt Selig (00:32:34): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:32:35): I'm positive mine is well below average. I think I might have a number as closer to 10.
Matt Selig (00:32:46): I think it was Justin Mannhardt, your P3 guy. Justin Mannhardt first came and helped us put together the dashboard. I think it was him that I first heard him say, that we just want a single source of truth. We don't want five different data models to make five different sales dashboards, or we don't want 10 different data models to make sales dashboards and cost dashboards and one source of truth. I've kind of clung to that to say, "That's the answer. We have a single source of truth, and we have several Dunbar groups." Maybe the first and second shift is the Dunbar group each, but we all have the same source of truth. That when we need to answer questions about what's happening, we don't have alternate realities.
Rob Collie (00:33:29): The first time that I was introduced to this concept, one version of the truth, I was brand new to BI. I was working on the Excel team at Microsoft. But it's kind of funny. I had been tapped to be essentially in charge of the majority of the stuff that was going to be happening in Excel around BI, but I didn't know anything about BI. So I was getting this crash course on what BI means and was introduced to this one version of the truth.
Rob Collie (00:33:54): And I'll tell you, the first time I heard this concept, it actually kind of pissed me off. I kind of bristled at the idea when I first heard it. The way it hit me the first time was in such like an anti-democratic way. And I think there was some truth to this the way I thought of it, but I didn't have the whole picture. The thing that I heard was, the powers that be centralized deity or whatever at great distance from the people who are doing the work are going to come up with that one version of the truth. And then they are going to inflict it, right?
Matt Selig (00:34:29): Sounds like a Dilbert cartoon.
Rob Collie (00:34:30): It does, doesn't it, right? And that's sort of what I thought of it was like, "We're going to take all of the innovation and original thought that's possibly in the organization and we're going to legislate it out." I think that is one of the things. That was sort of the dark underbelly of the one version of the truth back at the time.
Rob Collie (00:34:52): Now, where we've landed with Power BI is this beautiful blend of the two strengths. We're not stifling innovation or original thought. We're giving it a conduit to actually come to life, to come to fruition and be implemented, be realized. You still have to decide. If there's multiple different possibilities of how you're going to calculate a metric, you have to pick one and you have to pick the right one. It's even easier to test now between those, like which one sort of most closely matches your targets or reality even. But yeah, you don't want to be playing "My spreadsheet can beat up your spreadsheet."
Rob Collie (00:35:33): You hear this all the time. It might not have been as big of a deal at SerVaas, but at bigger organizations, meetings very often start out with everyone showing up with their spreadsheet their versions of the same thing. They have different numbers. And the point of the meeting was to decide X, Y, Z, but they never get around to X, Y, Z, because they're spending the whole meeting fighting about whose spreadsheet is right. That does need to stop.
Rob Collie (00:36:00): And so I've come full circle. I am now a big believer in a phrase, in a principle, one version of the truth, that I was emotionally opposed to when I first encountered it. And it is. It's the best of both worlds. We get the innovation. We get the information and the ideas from the trenches where the things are actually happening. That's sort of a meritocracy of ideas whichever that can make it into the one version, that can be the one version now. Whereas in the past, whatever the best idea was going on out there, it was only in one person's spreadsheet and you couldn't tell the difference between that spreadsheet and all the other spreadsheets. There was no way.
Matt Selig (00:36:38): When I was in the army, the two parts to the time I spent in the army, the first part was in the infantry. And that was very fluid. Everything was rapid change. You'd start out to do something and it would change immediately. They'd make you stay awake for four days and walk 20 miles a day with 80 pounds on you back and throw you in these impossible situations and you had to try to figure out what to do.
Matt Selig (00:37:03): And as I started studying accounting, I said, "Well, I think I'll check out what the army does in its accounting work" because I'm a Finance Corps. I went to the controller's office in the Army National Guard Command. And I remember going to this woman and I was just the equivalent of an intern at that time. And I said, "What do you do?" And she says, "I take this piece of paper. I pick up that piece of paper. I put them together. I staple it and I put it in that pile." And I said, "Well, why do you do that?" She said, "Look, I take this piece of paper. I take that piece of paper. I staple them together and I put them in that pile." And I think bureaucracy is like a way of implementing one version of the truth, like every woman who did her job and every 50 national guards across the United States had one version of truth to how they did the job.
Rob Collie (00:37:53): Yeah.
Matt Selig (00:37:54): For me, I thought that was soul crushing.
Rob Collie (00:37:56): Yeah.
Matt Selig (00:37:56): I like the infantry. Make it up as you go along and figure out what to do.
Rob Collie (00:38:01): So when she was answering that question, was there any hint of irony in her answer or was it matter of fact?
Matt Selig (00:38:09): This is 25, 26 years ago. I remember it as kind of like a cynicism.
Rob Collie (00:38:14): Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. Yeah.
Matt Selig (00:38:17): "This is what the book says. This is the way I do it. You're asking all these questions and the book doesn't authorize you to ask questions."
Rob Collie (00:38:24): Yeah. It's like the guy in office space who goes in and talks to the two consultants and tells them the truth about what he actually does all day.
Matt Selig (00:38:31): Yeah. And everybody there was like that. But I think that's how you get one version of the truth. You have a policy manual that says, "This is the one way we do it."
Rob Collie (00:38:42): Yeah. So it's kind of like the bad version of one version of the truth is lowest common denominator.
Matt Selig (00:38:49): Right.
Rob Collie (00:38:52): It's like almost inherently about the worst thing. Instead, we want sort of the best thing to bubble up into that one version. We want the one version to be the best thing that we can do.
Matt Selig (00:39:01): Every McDonald's I've ever been in on three continents has the same Big Mac.
Rob Collie (00:39:07): But it's [inaudible 00:39:08] Big Mac.
Matt Selig (00:39:08): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:39:09): I'm full of fiction. Not that same commonality for the Quarter Pounder though according to Jules.
Matt Selig (00:39:18): I think that's kind of been a guiding principle. "Let's get to one version of the truth, but let's not use it as a straight jacket."
Rob Collie (00:39:25): Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Matt Selig (00:39:26): Let's use it to support the kind of the free flow of like, "I can't write a policy for this company for tomorrow or next year because I don't know what we'll be facing next year."
Rob Collie (00:39:38): I mean, what could change in one year?
Matt Selig (00:39:40): Our sales could go up 60% and our headcount could increase 50%.
Rob Collie (00:39:46): Oh, cry me a river. Your 60% revenue growth, such a huge problem. However, it actually does cause problems, right? You can't just sit back and operate like you did yesterday under such circumstances.
Rob Collie (00:39:57): Let's rewind to January of this year. I think we should all just let Matt Selig pick stocks for us going forward. We should go to Vegas with him or something because Matt has amazing foresight. In January, he knew the world was about to be turned upside down and he needed to get that long running, there has to be a better way. He saw it all coming. He knew. He knew he needed to get Power BI implemented ASAP. Of course, I'm joking. You didn't see this coming anymore than the rest of us probably. But the timing was amazing.
Matt Selig (00:40:26): I kind of did, but for a different reason.
Rob Collie (00:40:28): Oh you did?
Matt Selig (00:40:29): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:40:29): Oh, okay. Yeah, maybe we could talk about that. But yeah, you got Power BI kicked off at SerVaas Labs in February, right?
Matt Selig (00:40:38): Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mid February.
Rob Collie (00:40:40): You came to our class in January and you told us afterwards. It's kind of as a means of almost interviewing us, sort of getting a feel for us.
Matt Selig (00:40:47): Yep.
Rob Collie (00:40:48): Because it is, like you mentioned, it's a scary step when you're going to finally commit to trying out one of the ways that it might turn out to be the better way. Sooner or later you have to take this leap and commit some significant amount of your own money, some significant amount of your own time, and even picking the software platform, choosing which one you're going to use, choosing a firm to help you with it. This is scary for a good reason. And so you had kind of stumbled onto us. You'd found the book and all of that. And you thought, "Okay, this is a candidate." But you were careful. You and one other person from SerVaas, you both came to our January class. We apparently didn't scare you off. And then we did our first jumpstart engagement to kick off a project with you in February.
Matt Selig (00:41:34): Right.
Rob Collie (00:41:35): I've got the timeline.
Matt Selig (00:41:36): The pressure I was facing at the time is we had a dashboard consulting company that will remain unnamed, that came on really hard and heavy with the... We've got this amazing dashboard that's going to show you it's going to have one page that has all of your costs categorized by things like freight, materials, chemicals, labor. We're going to compare it to a database that shows what you should have paid for those things. We only want $6,500 a month. They kind of like, you see fire all of a sudden. You discover fire. And while you're so amazed, they say "Sign this contract."
Rob Collie (00:42:14): Yeah. Yeah.
Matt Selig (00:42:14): But I had seen enough of Power BI to think their dashboard wasn't very good. It was crazy overpriced. And if we didn't like it anymore and didn't renew, we lost it. So I got motivated to find a better solution. I'd already talked to somebody at P3 early in 2019, but kind of just lost contact with them. I put it on the back burner. And I got a hold...
Matt Selig (00:42:38): And yeah, going to the class, I mean, we learned things about Power Query, Power Pivot. We learned a very little bit about Power BI, but we were there to check you guys out to see if you were a bunch of hucksters like the last salting company was, or if we really knew what you were talking about. I think my wife worked right by where the class was, so the three of us all went out to lunch one day.
Rob Collie (00:43:05): We did.
Matt Selig (00:43:06): Yeah, because she work literally 50 steps from where the class was. My wife and I took a couple P3 people out to dinner that night. We were enjoying ourselves but I just kind of wanted to know, "Are these just another hucksters that are trying to get us to sign a contractor before we realized what happens?"
Rob Collie (00:43:24): There you go. There's our new ad campaign. We're not hucksters.
Matt Selig (00:43:30): After that, I talked to our president and our chief marketing officer. I said, "They save her. For X amount of dollars, they can come in here in three days and get something up and running. I think we should give them a shot." And they were both enthusiastic about that because I was showing them my drawing that I'd shown you at that class.
Matt Selig (00:43:46): And Justin came down for three days. The first day the report he came up with, I was like, "Ooh. Oh, that doesn't look too good. It's better than what we got, but it's not that... Nobody's going to write home about this." But by the third day, through that iterative process of saying, "Okay, this is what I got, tell me what you need. Okay, this is what I got. Tell me what you need." And he put 50 more sticky notes on the white board. He just kept chiseling away, like Michael Angelo making the statue by removing all the parts of the rock that aren't the statue. And by the end of the day, we had people gasping when they saw the dashboard. It was the same kind of reaction I experienced with Bar Keepers Friend from people who were looking at it and they were like, "Oh my God. I heard that. Oh my God, I can't believe this."
Rob Collie (00:44:35): Yeah. [inaudible 00:44:36] was like a Lord of the Rings thing. "By the end of the third day, look to the west" or something. But yeah, because it... Your local here to Indianapolis. Justin, isn't. He flew in for this. But I dropped in on you on one of those, in the afternoon.
Matt Selig (00:44:51): Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Collie (00:44:52): Yeah. I mean, there was a real live and breathing initial, anyway, initial set of a couple of dashboards. You'd already been making discoveries. There was at least one or two discoveries you'd made about your business that were surprising. That's actually relatively typical.
Rob Collie (00:45:08): I was recently asked to put together a one minute video. Anyone who knows me knows that this one minute of video, like, "Oh my God, you're going to let him talk. He has to say something coherent in one minute? That's not his thing." I was asked to record a one minute video giving sort of my number one piece of advice to people who are needing BI, to the BI universe, but mostly to the customers of BI. This is a terrible challenge. But it was really helpful. It was crystallizing, galvanizing in a way, because what I came up with is that you should set five business days as sort of the limit, the elapsed time limit before you see your first results. When I say first results, it's sort of like what you were looking at, even a little bit at the end of day two and definitely into day three of not that first day but late second day and then the third day. We were under the five business day limit for those first results. It doesn't mean that you're done.
Matt Selig (00:46:10): Right. Not at all.
Rob Collie (00:46:11): It doesn't mean that you're done. You're never really done. That's the beautiful thing, it's that you can always improve. You're just improving less and less. Over time, you're more than likely to be doing brand new things than fine tuning forever on a single report. That's not how it works. So that's what I did in this video, is to say any project timeline that involves you waiting more than five business days to see your first results is a loser project strategy. And just as importantly, this five day thing with the new tools that are available to us, this five day thing is absolutely legitimate. It's doable. It's achievable. So if you start hearing projects that are measured in months, maybe it does take months to get to where you ultimately want to be, but you're not going to be working on it full time for months to get there.
Matt Selig (00:47:01): Yeah. I had told you before we started the podcast here, it was kind of like the Grand Canyon. We stood at the edge and there was a lot of DAX in the middle to get to the other side. And to bring up our internal skillset to the level, we needed to get across that Gulf. It was going to take years maybe. Now, that's what P3 really did, was help get us from that side where we knew what we could have and we got across to the other side. And in the meantime, I went to your class, a book that really helped me get going was Roger Silva's Create and Learn in Power BI. Power BI Create and Learn by Roger Silva. It's still on my desk and it got me to the point where I said, "I can write a report now."
Matt Selig (00:47:47): Justin started to build that data model and I could write a report on top of it. I didn't have to learn how to make the data model, which was going to take me months to get up to that skill level. And I could take the reports that Justin created or further P3 consultants that we worked with, like Ryan and Paul, and I could work with it. I could change things. I knew how to change the title on and matrix report for visual for instance. I knew how to add a column. I knew how to put a slicer in. I knew what information I wanted. If I couldn't figure out how to do it, I could come back to the consultant and say, "Hey, could you show me how to blank, blank, blank? I'm trying to make this pie chart that has this information."
Rob Collie (00:48:25): This is a really cool dynamic that we don't have with all of our clients. Not all of our clients want this, to be perfectly honest. And that's okay if you don't want this, it's totally fine, obviously. But you are very keen and very spongy in terms of soaking up knowledge. And you are. You're advancing your own capabilities in this space and we're even helping you do that. So this interesting hybrid of our team, multiple members of our team at various points in time, have been helping you advance the ball down the field, but at the same time, you've also been learning how to do a number of these things for yourself.
Matt Selig (00:49:03): Yep.
Rob Collie (00:49:03): So you don't need us for everything.
Matt Selig (00:49:05): That's right.
Rob Collie (00:49:05): You sort of need us on the frontier.
Matt Selig (00:49:07): Last week, I had the capital expenditures report that I was showing you with the three different matrices. I figured out a way to do it, but I was like, "Oh my gosh. When I tell Paul Boynton what I did to do this, he's going to laugh." But I made it work. I made it work. Paul and I got on our weekly call and I said, "You're going to laugh when I show you how I did this." And he laughed, but he also showed me, "But you could have done it like this." And then we fixed it and made it the way it should be. Some things I've just said, "I have no idea how to do what I want, like this customer profitability report, but we really need it really bad." And then we've turned that over to him.
Matt Selig (00:49:50): In the meantime, I think I mentioned I'm working through M Is for Data Monkeys. I've worked through parts of your book. I'm working on Matt Allington's supercharged Power BI with DAX. I've taken a Udemy class on DAX with Gilly Dow in England. My first exposure to Excel in 1995, I still learned stuff about Excel. It's so big. Just a couple days ago, I watched a little tutorial on how to do an XLOOKUP function. I've never done it before. I'd heard of it, but I was like, "What is that thing?" And there's just so much to learn in there. I kind of feel the same way with... I'm not sure Power BI is just kind of like the shell on top of everything, isn't it? I mean, isn't it the data model beneath it all that's kind of driving the ship?
Rob Collie (00:50:33): Yeah. I mean, the data model, the DAX calculation engine, the M engine behind Power Query, these are the things that are really core and they're also the ones that are most powerful, the most useful, all that, and most unique. They're also the ones that require learning, right?
Matt Selig (00:50:52): Right.
Rob Collie (00:50:52): They're the ones with the learning curve.
Matt Selig (00:50:54): If you have a good data model, you can make a matrix in Power BI if you know the basics, you know?
Rob Collie (00:51:00): Yeah.
Matt Selig (00:51:01): You can change the colors on it. So that's, to me, what P3 has been the most useful for us building that infrastructure underneath the amazing, cool reports we have.
Rob Collie (00:51:14): Yeah. It's really, really satisfying to me and gratifying to hear you say things, even small things like, "I know how to change the title." I know that's not technical, right? You also do write some DAX. I've seen it.
Matt Selig (00:51:26): Yeah. Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:51:28): And you're reading these books. You're dedicated to constantly improving and growing and learning. We just hired... For example, for the first time ever, we have a full-time web developer working for our company. It's not just for the website. It's for a lot of things, but just basically everything that we do digitally out in the world to try to reach people, he's going to be involved in. He was telling this story the other day about he had worked for an ad agency or something like that in the past. He was in a meeting with some clients and he said the client was describing something that they needed. And Alex, Alex is his name, spoke up and said, "Yeah, that's easy. I can do that in no time." It was just a good, helpful human thing to say. But then when the meeting was over and everyone was gone, he got scolded and told he was never allowed to say anything was easy over again.
Rob Collie (00:52:21): He needed from now on to say... Whenever he wanted to say something was easy, he had to say it was interesting, instead. Because yeah, of course there are times that you think something's easy, and it doesn't turn out to be easy. You always want to be careful about that situation. But the instructions in this case he was getting were that essentially we had an opportunity there to charge a lot more money for the thing that you were going to do. We can't mark it up to 10000% that we were going to otherwise.
Rob Collie (00:52:49): I just love the fact that we have leaned into the honest version of all of this. We're not going to tell you, "Oh no, it's hard to change titles on charts," you know? Or do our best to keep you out of the text so that you don't ever discover that you can. We've been running with this experiment now for a long time, long enough to know that it works, that we're going to deliver things as quickly, as efficiently, as cost effectively as we possibly can. We're not going to try to hoard things and make it a black magic. And a lot of people didn't believe that that would work. But here you are, sort of surfing this hybrid model. On the flip side, if you're willing to learn all this stuff yourself and you are getting better at it every day-
Matt Selig (00:53:35): Absolutely.
Rob Collie (00:53:36): ... why do you still use P3 for anything?
Matt Selig (00:53:40): I was just kind of thinking through. We haven't really talked a lot exactly what we did. We've said, "Oh, it's amazing. It's amazing. I can't believe it. It's amazing. It's world changing. It's this bright, shiny fire." What we've done with P3... I can't remember if you've seen my whiteboard behind me where I've laid out the plan for our dashboard reporting. I thought I would get it done in six months, but the pandemic happened and it slowed everything down. But to date, we've got a sales dashboard report that will tell you anything you want to know about who we sell to, what we sell to, what they pay for, how we promote with them. Anything. Anything you want to know. We've got a cost dashboard that tells you anything you want to know about our costs and what we buy, who we buy it from, what we pay for it, how much we get. Anything you want to know about our costs.
Matt Selig (00:54:29): And I told Luke yesterday, "We tried to make these so any average schmuck could look at this stuff and it would be obvious." You don't need to be a CPA. You don't need to be a data jockey. We wanted this stuff like Fred Flinstone simple. And then we have an inventory report that tells us anything we want to know about our raw materials, our finished goods in our warehouses. It's just we couldn't have done it without somebody. P3 built the data model underneath all that and created a lot of the reports that were just beyond our abilities.
Matt Selig (00:55:03): And in the meantime, I've studied like crazy to try to get better myself, because it's interesting to me for one. And it's kind of like Excel, there's so much there to learn. There's a good five years worth of material there to learn. I'm sure of it. It's funny. Before this podcast, I was showing you, "I just learned how to post a Power BI reporting teams." And you said, "I don't think I've ever seen that." You're the pro and you still have stuff to learn.
Rob Collie (00:55:29): Well, I've largely been put out to pasture. I'm the mascot now.
Matt Selig (00:55:37): Yeah. You're here with the pretty face.
Rob Collie (00:55:41): Yeah, we're in trouble. Now I'm the person that says "We're not going to use email." I'm the one that fights change.
Matt Selig (00:55:49): So what we have online in the next, I don't know, six to nine months... I think it's optimistic, but we want to bring our factory into Power BI so that you can watch our factory run from anywhere in the world, on your cell phone. Everything. Everything. You can see how many units it produced, how much downtime it had, how hot the sensor was at a certain position at a certain time, what maintenance needs to be done. So we're going to have our whole factory online.
Matt Selig (00:56:21): The other big project that's coming online is digital marketing. We don't do television advertising and radio advertising. We used to, but we haven't in a long time. But our digital marketing on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, YouTube, all those digital channels are pumping out a lot of data also. We're going to build reports that show our digital marketing operations happening in real time so we can see that. If the person who does our digital marketing says, "Oh, we've spent a thousand dollars on an influencer in Nebraska," let's say, I want to know, "Well, how many cans of Bar Keepers Friend did that move off the shelf?" I don't know if we can ever answer that specific question, but that's the kind of stuff we want to know.
Rob Collie (00:57:07): Attribution is hard in those circumstances.
Matt Selig (00:57:09): Yeah.
Rob Collie (00:57:10): But at the same time, you've got seasonality, you've got baselines, you have the date of the influencer campaign beginning and ending and all that kind of stuff so you can... You know how they say, "Correlation is not causation."
Matt Selig (00:57:23): That's right.
Rob Collie (00:57:23): Correlation is sometimes pretty good.
Matt Selig (00:57:26): The final piece of the puzzle is to take our customers data. We sell to the biggest retailers in the United States, Walmart, Target, Dollar General, Amazon, Lowe's, Home Depot, Kroger, you name it. We think we have a pretty high penetration in all those customers. And they generate data. We want to take our biggest customers like Walmart, Target, Dollar General, Amazon, and bring their point of sale data into Power BI so that we can watch Bar Keepers Friend moving across their cash registers and we can tie that together there with our digital marketing efforts and say that we've tried to created a digital marketing campaign that tried to sell Bar Keepers Friend on the east side of Tulsa, Oklahoma at Walmart. Let's see if that happened.
Rob Collie (00:58:18): Yeah. And right now the sales data that you do get is from each customer, which is a retailer, right?
Matt Selig (00:58:26): Yes.
Rob Collie (00:58:27): You don't get a lot of granularity. Maybe you get some information like, "We shipped it to the east warehouse versus the west warehouse" or something like that. It's not time synced with the actual sale, right? You're dependent upon when they decided to reorder. You wouldn't be able to see those sorts of things you're talking about. You need that kind of granularity especially when you're having to these sorts of attribution types of exercises.
Matt Selig (00:58:50): Our salespeople need it when they go to visit Walmart, for instance, or Target. When they show up at Walmart buying center in Bentonville, they need good information to take to that buyer. They only have 30 minutes. They need to have a powerful tool to make their case when they get that 30 minutes once a year to get in there and sell to them. And for what they tell me, they love our sales dashboards, but they say that the kind of BI tools we're developing are what people like Walmart expect the big CPG players like Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson to have, but they don't expect a small little company like SerVaas Labs to be that sophisticated. But we're getting there. There's a lot of hard work to do between now and then, but I think it'll happen.
Rob Collie (00:59:40): They don't expect it today, but they will soon.
Matt Selig (00:59:43): Right.
Rob Collie (00:59:46): You're going to change their perceptions. Yeah.
Matt Selig (00:59:50): Yeah. And that gives us more credibility when we show up.
Rob Collie (00:59:55): That's right.
Matt Selig (00:59:55): In Walmart, Bar Keepers Friend is two facings on miles worth of shelves. We command six inches of shelf on Walmarts.
Rob Collie (01:00:05): These are the things that I always try to tell people ahead of time: how much is possible and how good it's going to be. But I think in the process of actually telling people the truth, I actually start to sound like I'm lying, you know? And so this is the riddle we're trying to crack, is how to actually tell people the truth about what to expect from Power BI and what to expect from working with us.
Matt Selig (01:00:29): Put a little sign by my picture that says, "Not a paid-
Rob Collie (01:00:32): Not a paid. Yeah.
Matt Selig (01:00:34): ... endorsement."
Rob Collie (01:00:34): That's right. We did a case study together. You were kind enough to participate on a polished case study.
Matt Selig (01:00:40): It does sound pretty crazy, but I don't think we've said anything here in the last hour that doesn't reflect reality.
Rob Collie (01:00:47): Isn't that neat?
Matt Selig (01:00:47): Because I'm super reality-based. I'm not a pie in the sky dreamer. If I didn't think P3 had lived up to our expectations, then I would've walked out of the class in January and said, "Nope, we keep looking guys."
Rob Collie (01:01:02): Onto the next Huckster.
Matt Selig (01:01:08): Yeah.
Rob Collie (01:01:09): All right. Well, Matt, I really appreciate you taking the time to be on the show with us. I've enjoyed knowing you and I've also love watching the journey that you've been on. I love like just how differently you're talking, how much progress you've made. I also love that you're even as amazing as the things that you've got now are relative to where you were before you started this. You're already talking about turning what you have today and making it look like it was kindergarten.
Matt Selig (01:01:37): Yeah, definitely. I think what we're about to do... We're like Icarus. We're flying near the sun, but I think what we're about to do will be the most amazing part yet, really.
Rob Collie (01:01:47): The sun is farther away than it looks. You're going to be fine. Your wings aren't going to melt. All right. Well, thank you very much.
Matt Selig (01:01:54): Okay. Well, it's been my pleasure.
Announcer (01:01:56): Thanks for listening to the Raw Data by P3 Podcast. Find out what the experts at P3 can do for your business. Go to powerpivotpro.com. Interested in becoming a guest on the show? Email lukep, L-U-K-E-P, @powerpivotpro.com. Have a data day!
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