The Fruit of the Electric Grapevine: Industry-Leading Visibility on Limited Resources, w/ Jack Irby

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On today’s episode, we explore how Opus One, led by data visionary Jack Irby, has leveraged data to redefine the winemaking industry. Prepare to have one of those “aha” moments when data’s power just clicks as Jack takes us on an exciting journey into the world of winemaking. Listen in as we learn how Opus One defied tradition and embraced technology to become a Napa Vally Icon.

Before becoming the wizard behind tracking ultra-premium wine allocations, Jack embarked on a delightfully eclectic journey. From belting out saxophone solos to channeling his inner Billy Beane, he’s infused creative flair into every step.

At Opus One, Jack discovered an industry thirsty for innovation. And today, you can listen in as he revisits the wine world’s “pre-data” era. Jack doesn’t hold back as he shares the origin story behind his groundbreaking methods to trace each bottle’s journey from vineyard to table. Prepare to be amazed as he describes the development of an app capable of adjusting rare wine allocation in real-time . . . a sommelier’s dream come true!

If you’ve enjoyed this episode, be sure to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform to help others find the show!

Rob Collie (00:00:00): Hello, friends. We're recording this intro from the interstate. I'm driving, but don't worry, Luke, the producer is in the passenger seat and he's holding the microphone up to my face. Why are we doing this from the road? Well, it's not just out of necessity. It turns out that the universe told us that this is what we had to do, and when the universe tells us something, you don't want to piss it off, right? You want to listen. We're on our way to see Les Claypool, the primary creative driving force behind the band Primus, of which Luke and I have been fans for probably 30 years. We're not seeing Primus though, we're seeing Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade. The reason the universe intervened, let me explain that. In 1995, when the internet was still new, we didn't really have the worldwide web yet. I was in college and I would spend the bulk of every night staring at the screen, sleuthing around, having little adventures, going around the internet forums, et cetera.

(00:00:58): I was an internet addict, and every night was like a new adventure. And in 1995, Primus released a song called Over the Electric Grapevine that I thought was about the internet. Electric Grapevine, sounds like the internet, right? And I knew it was a journey being described in the song, but I thought it was talking about the crazy antics you could get up to on the internet late at night in 1995. And turned out years later, I found out it's actually about a road trip. It's about a road trip taken by Les Claypool and his buddy. Okay, well, here I am on a road trip with Luke, who I've known for many years. But hey, that was an easy mistake to make at the time for a computer science kid in 1995 to think that Electric Grapevine was talking about the internet.

(00:01:40): Grapevine, like passing information from person to person, the internet was structured and still is structured that way. To get a message from A to B, it gets passed through a bunch of relay points. Oh fine, it's about a road trip, but still don't let the truth spoil a good story. Furthermore, though, today's episode features Jack Irby of Opus One, a winery, vineyard. And I was being asked, "Hey, what should be the name for this episode, Rob?" And it just hit me, the fruit of the Electric Grapevine pretty much all came together then, right? Got to do the intro from the road. So Opus One is an absolutely prestigious brand. You're going to find out about that. You're going to find out about what their cheap bottle of wine sells for. But they are very much a small team, and yet they have, thanks to the Microsoft platform and a little bit of help from P3 Adaptive, they have industry leading visibility into their customers and into their demand flow, which is very, very difficult to have in the alcohol business. And you'll also find out why that's true.

(00:02:43): And when you think about it, all of our interconnected systems in the middleware that we use the Microsoft platform for to extract meaning from all these various systems and also to connect them in new and novel ways, that is, kind of hearkening back to what I originally thought the Electric Grapevine song was about. Jack's another accidental data [inaudible 00:03:04]. He set out to be originally a professional musician, which also ties in with this concert road trip. And the universe couldn't be more clear, could it? Anyway, it was a fantastic conversation. I think you'll enjoy it. I certainly did. So let's get into it.

Announcer (00:03:19): Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?

Announcer (00:03:23): This is the Raw Data by P3 Adaptive Podcast with your host Rob Collie and your co-host, Justin Mannhardt. 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 (00:03:50): Welcome to the show, Jack Irby. It is really, really excellent to see you again.

Jack Irby (00:03:55): So nice to see you.

Rob Collie (00:03:56): It's been a number of years. I think, we were talking backstage, you were at a class that I taught in Seattle.

Jack Irby (00:04:06): That is correct. I believe it was after the second Microsoft Data Insights Summit.

Rob Collie (00:04:14): Yes, that sounds right. Yep.

Jack Irby (00:04:15): It might've been the last class that you taught.

Rob Collie (00:04:17): I retired after that and then I came back and taught another string. You know how it is. The Eagles are on, what, their third or fourth farewell tour now? I haven't taught a class since 2020. I did come back briefly, but we were actually in one of Microsoft's satellite office complexes at Redmond Town Center.

Jack Irby (00:04:37): Yes.

Rob Collie (00:04:37): And we had members of the Excel team, and maybe even a couple members of the Power BI team.

Jack Irby (00:04:42): Sitting in the back of the room, I do remember that.

Rob Collie (00:04:44): So every time someone asked a question and it was Microsoft's fault, why that thing wasn't working, I would just turn and look at them and say, "Well."

Jack Irby (00:04:53): I think they got embarrassed.

Rob Collie (00:04:55): You got to remember, when you work in software, you're working at such a tremendous distance from your customers. And if you want to meet a customer, get on a plane sometimes. And you go and you visit a customer, one company, not everyone at that company is as interesting to talk to as even one person in that class. The people in that class are the most interesting customers that they'll ever meet really, and you were all concentrated in one place, and that's just a gift. But I agree, Justin, always have one Microsoft person in the room. It's like the heckler, but it's a reverse heckle.

(00:05:30): Jack, tell the audience, what's your job title, where you work? We'll go from there.

Jack Irby (00:05:33): They call me the senior data analyst. It encompasses so many different things.

Rob Collie (00:05:38): Titles. Yeah.

Jack Irby (00:05:40): I know. But I'm fortunate to work with a fantastic company called Opus One Winery. I am located in the Napa Valley, as is Opus. Right now is a fabulous time to be here because it's harvest season. The aromas in the entire valley are amazing. Grapes are being harvested. When I'm at the winery just outside my office and they're doing the harvest and the preparation for making the wine, it smells amazing.

Rob Collie (00:06:07): I would never have guessed that. So we're talking about grapes, right?

Jack Irby (00:06:11): Absolutely.

Rob Collie (00:06:12): Okay. Okay. We're talking about wine grapes. Are you telling me that in Napa Valley when it's harvest time, it smells faintly of grape in the air?

Jack Irby (00:06:21): Yes. It's just this sweet, beautiful aroma that permeates everything.

Rob Collie (00:06:25): Okay. That is something I have to experience. I mean, I've been to Napa once, but I've never been there at Harvest time. Tacoma, right? Tacoma smells like paper mills. You're used to industrial smells. Gary, Indiana, it's an industrial smell, but it is a natural industrial smell.

Jack Irby (00:06:44): This is a wonderful place to live.

Rob Collie (00:06:45): I see you've got the zip up, the quarter hoodie.

Jack Irby (00:06:49): The Opus logo on it.

Rob Collie (00:06:50): Which is a little bit almost reminiscent of the Alfred Hitchcock logo, right? That profile.

Jack Irby (00:06:56): Well, it's actually two heads looking two different ways. It's Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, who were the founders of Opus One back in 1979, I believe it was. Two giants of the wine industry came together as a lark almost. They met in Hawaii sometime before that and said "We should do something," and they formed a joint partnership. Even today, with the Mondavi organization now being owned by Constellation, we're still half owned by Constellation and half owned by the Rothchild family. It's a really interesting place to sit.

Rob Collie (00:07:33): Okay, so when I first met you, I'm like, "Okay, Opus One." At the moment I had never heard of it. I've certainly encountered the brand multiple times in the wild since then. I just wasn't paying attention and attuned before. But first thing I noticed was like, okay, so the cheapest bottle of Opus One at the time was like a hundred dollars.

Jack Irby (00:07:51): That was a long time ago.

Rob Collie (00:07:56): So this is not low-end wine. When these two titans come together, they came together to produce an upscale high-end product.

Jack Irby (00:08:03): They wanted to create the equivalent of a French first growth in the Napa Valley. In French wine parlance, they have different classifications that go back to the late 1800s of how they classify the wineries and the locations of the wine. In Napa parlance, the valley is about 28 miles long and about eight miles wide, and it's divided up into what are called Appalachians, and each Appalachian is a kind of a subregion. It has certain characteristics. There are microclimates, there's different grapes that are grown in certain places. Although Napa is mostly known for Cabernet Sauvignon, everything is grown here. It's just that Cabernet seems to bring the highest price. So there's an economy that goes into this equation.

(00:08:51): They wanted to create a special wine that was made in the French style, which is using essentially five different grapes that go into the making of the end product, which is traditionally made in Bordeaux, France, and do it in the Napa Valley. So it became a unique product way back then, and I believe the first vintage of Opus back in the early 80's was around $100 a bottle. It's no longer that. It's gone up from there.

Rob Collie (00:09:26): For grins. If I wanted to buy a bottle today and I wanted to buy the absolute most affordable bottle, what's the price range today, roughly?

Jack Irby (00:09:34): Our suggested retail price is $450 for one bottle of wine.

Rob Collie (00:09:39): That's amazing.

Jack Irby (00:09:40): It is amazing. I've been fortunate enough to taste a few of them. I don't buy them. I equivalate it to a luxury product.

Rob Collie (00:09:50): It is.

Jack Irby (00:09:51): And it is very much like Louis Vuitton handbags. You go in and you say, "Yes, I'd like one," and they go, "Oh, well, maybe you can have one.' And it's not quite that bad because we do make a fair amount of wine. We're certainly not large in production standards, but it is a limited product. We own all our own vineyards and they are all located right around the winery and it's some of the most precious vineyard property in the world, and we can only make so much. It's agriculture. We have a finite amount of product that we make and turn that into the wine bottle. It takes us three years to make our product. The grapes that I'm smelling today, I'm not going to be able to taste for another three years.

Rob Collie (00:10:38): This is not artificial scarcity.

Jack Irby (00:10:40): No.

Rob Collie (00:10:41): Like luxury brands do cultivate an artificial scarcity.

Jack Irby (00:10:45): This is very real.

Rob Collie (00:10:47): Yeah, like Louis Vuitton could crank out five times as many bags if they wanted to.

Jack Irby (00:10:52): Maybe. I don't know. It's fascinating because in how we go to market with our wines is very much tied to our working with P3, has been the fact that we allocate all our wine down to the actual account that sells our wine domestically. Alcoholic beverages in the United States are sold through what's called a three-tier system. We sell to a distributor. A distributor then sells to either a restaurant or a wine store or something like that. We're actually supposed to be, one, removed from our client. However, we've taken a tact of being very close to our client and knowing who they are and actually allocating to those individual clients. So we go through a process every year we allocate to approximately 10,000 accounts in the United States, and we work closely with our distributor partners to identify those accounts and we manage all that data internally so that we're able to know who these accounts are so that we're truly placing the wine in the best accounts possible.

(00:12:02): We want to be in the finest restaurants. We want to be in the best wine shops in the country. Then we work really hard through a lot of data manipulation and technology to be able to do that. I'm not even sure in dealing with your company, I've dealt with Justin, I've dealt with Chrissy, I've dealt with Michael. Mostly, I rely on Tate. Tate Bowman is my guy, and you obviously know what a treasure you have with him because he is amazing. But we've worked together for the last few years to develop a system that is truly revolutionary. So I don't know how much you even know about it.

Rob Collie (00:12:43): I actually don't know very much, which makes for artificial scarcity. There's not going to be any artificial narrative here. I need to know. I don't have to pretend that I don't know.

(00:12:51): So let's start from the beginning. One of the things you said, I wanted to make sure we highlighted this early is, for I think a lot of people have the same intuition, and it's a false intuition that I've had for many years, which is that if you see a physical product out in the world, when someone sees that, they immediately think this has to come from a massive organization. By the time a physical product makes it where my eyeballs intersect it, that must be just a tremendous organization. It turns out that you can be a worldwide brand without being a massive company, and that's taken me a long time. I think I've finally learned this. My intuition was completely wired differently and it is become different now. You mentioned that Opus One isn't huge in terms of production capacity. You're not producing the same number of bottles as Kendall-Jackson is.

Jack Irby (00:13:48): Not even close.

Rob Collie (00:13:49): In terms of people, how big are you?

Jack Irby (00:13:52): We're just over 100 employees.

Rob Collie (00:13:54): Crazy, right?

Jack Irby (00:13:56): And that includes vineyard staff, a small sales staff. We have six regional sales managers in the United States and a small home team that supports them. We have six people internationally that we work with, so our wine is actually sold all over the world. It's a little different process domestically versus international, but yeah, it's a small business in the sense that there are a lot of people that touch the product, but it's not massive.

(00:14:27): The thing that I would probably want you to know most of all is I'm very proud of, in my small little role, but also just in viewing the entire organization, is the amount of attention to detail that goes into making this product. It is phenomenal to sit there and watch raw grapes come in and how they have been managed in the vineyard, talking with all the people that do that process into very small tubs that arrive at the winery that get handled very gently and how the wine is made and then the entire process that it goes through to develop this product that is internationally known and very highly regarded. We have an incredible staff that is able to take a product that is very much time and place and turn out a consistent product from year to year. It's not the same, but it is consistent in its level of quality, so it's really fascinating.

Rob Collie (00:15:36): I think those two things, and I think this is kind of what you were getting at, those two things are related. The attention to detail, the discipline, the standards and the skill, the skill and the artistry of doing all this is not something that you can really achieve with a thousand person team.

Jack Irby (00:15:53): Oh yeah.

Rob Collie (00:15:54): There are some things for which a small team is an advantage and something like what you're doing. Even if we just gave you another 900 people to run the operation.

Jack Irby (00:16:03): Exactly.

Rob Collie (00:16:03): And they were free. If you had to use them, the quality would go down. It just would.

Jack Irby (00:16:10): As I was thinking about this conversation, the thing that I've enjoyed about working with your organization is that I very quickly, and this was part of where we met in Seattle, you introduced me to Power Query and Power BI and got me thinking about this, and it took us a couple of years to actually get to the point where we said, "Okay, this is where we want to go." But it was our ability to work with a small number of people. Justin was early on in the process. Chrissy was early on in helping us identify a direction to go, and then me working very closely with Tate was the perfect situation in that the symbiosis, the coming together of my ideas and desires and his ability to deliver them, could not have been enhanced if it had been a five person team.

(00:17:06): It was so much about almost the intimacy of being able to convey my wishes and have them realized. It's been an amazing process. And as I prepared for this and was trying to think back of all the things that we've gone through, it's just been amazing in the fact that, while our business has stayed the same, it has morphed a little bit. We've had to pivot a little bit in certain ways because of COVID, because of the economy, because we're an agricultural product and we make a certain amount of wine. And that's what we have available to sell, so it's not like we can turn the spigot on and make more. It's dealing with a very fixed product, so it's been challenging, but through the adoption of certain technologies and have been able to be on the forefront of all that, it's been very rewarding. Not only to us, but I'm hearing things in the industry that's like, 'Oh, you guys do things differently."

(00:18:09): And I show what we've developed, and people go, "Wow." I have an amazing story that is so telling about this in that, as I said, we work with six regional sales managers and they all work with multiple distributors, so it's divided up geographically throughout the country. And one of our sales managers was in their standard meeting with the distributor and walking them through our allocation process and identifying the accounts and how we want to allocate this wine over the number of accounts they have. He's sitting in this meeting in a conference room, the president of that particular company walks into the room, sits down quietly at the back of the room, doesn't say anything. He's just watching the presentation, watching our sales manager showing the technology that we're using, which is a combination of Power BI, Power Apps, QR codes, and at the end of the meeting, the president of the company walks over to our sales manager and says, "You know more about our clients than we do."

Justin Mannhardt (00:19:12): That's great. I love that.

Jack Irby (00:19:15): To me, that was the best comment that had ever happened, because that's what we've been working on, this identification of who these people are, who these clients are, and making sure that we're not only servicing our distributors, but also serving the end client and making sure that they have the best experience with us as possible.

Rob Collie (00:19:34): That really is the story of the power of data, the ability to see, in theory, they're closer to their customers than you are.

Jack Irby (00:19:42): Oh, absolutely.

Rob Collie (00:19:43): But yet through data, you're able to see almost everything. Now, it's not just data. It is data that's been crafted and channeled logically. Like you were talking about earlier, with all of your, let's call it tribal knowledge of the industry and knowing what people are actually trying to do out there. There's a humanity in this that has to be overlaid across the data even as you're nailing all the technical stuff, right?

Jack Irby (00:20:10): Oh, absolutely. It's funny because the wine industry, I mean, I've been doing this for a while through various forms, and when I arrived in the Napa Valley in 2000, the first thing I realized was the wine industry is about 10 years behind in technology.

(00:20:27): So throughout the various positions that I've held and people that I've worked with, I've tried to bring more of a data culture into the environment, and it's still an ongoing process with Opus One as well. The wine industry is a relationship business. They work with their clients very closely. We're about joy and hospitality and good times. And the underlying thing is that we've got physical product that we have to get out to the market and we have to sell to the right people at the right time in order to facilitate all of this, and that's the magic of all this.

Rob Collie (00:21:03): I was going to introduce this theme, this small team kind of thing, and see what you thought of it, and it sounds like we're completely on the same page there. When we first met out in Seattle, do you remember where you were at in terms of the problems you were having and or the ambitions that you had that weren't being realized? I remember our conversations from Seattle, because during the breaks, you would come up and you would talk to me, and not everyone does that. What was creating the itch, the hunger for something new? Not only did you go to the Seattle conference, but you stuck around for extra couple of days.

Jack Irby (00:21:39): Yep.

Rob Collie (00:21:39): You clearly were on a mission.

Jack Irby (00:21:41): I was investigating. At the time, we had another solution that had been in place for a number of years. It was something that I had been familiar with in a prior job. And that's really why I was brought into Opus, was the person that was running it or managing it wanted to move on to a different department. We'd been friends for 15 years and he said, "Hey, Jack, can you come in for a day?"

Rob Collie (00:22:07): I meant another day.

Jack Irby (00:22:11): I meant another day. And then two days turned into three days, turned into five days a week, and then eventually it made more sense to become an employee than a contractor.

(00:22:21): What I had identified was a couple things. I needed a solution that was more modern. I needed a solution that was more flexible. I wanted to be part of a community that I could learn from. I love learning. Your book is over there somewhere. I'm doing the work today, but I'm always keeping an eye on the future. It's driving me nuts with Fabric right now because I see-

Justin Mannhardt (00:22:47): Join the club, Jack.

Jack Irby (00:22:51): I'm sensing that everybody's in the same boat, but I knew that we had to be part of a solution that would help facilitate this flexibility and changes in how we went to market, which became so blatantly evident when COVID hit. Before COVID, our process of inviting someone to accept their allocation was to produce essentially a book that would be sent out to the accounts via the distributor. In that book would be lots of pretty pictures, descriptions of the wine. That had been going on for a number of years. When COVID hit, all the distributors said, "Our salespeople are not going to be visiting any accounts. Oh, by the way, some of the accounts are closing and a variety of mess that was occurring in the industry." So that's when we said we need to change how we do things. We quickly spun up a pilot project and said, okay, we need a site where our accounts can land and validate their allocation.

(00:24:06): So we worked with a partner to develop that site. We worked with essentially a fancy mailing house to develop a process to create invitations with 10,000 custom QR codes, all specifically aligned with the accounts. So instead of the distributor having to deliver this book and this big presentation, we would send them essentially one piece of paper with a QR code on it saying, hit this with your phone. That'll take you to the site. You'll be able to see what you've been allocated. Maybe you can request more. Sometimes we have more wine, sometimes we don't. Some people don't take their allocation.

(00:24:45): So we're constantly balancing this around. So that first iteration was right around the time that, I don't know if you remember Justin, you and Chrissy, we were starting to talk about this, but then it was like crazy, all hands on deck as we went into that. So we finished that season with our old solution and the machinations of data manipulation that was required in that, and it was kind of ugly. And that's when I convinced management said, we need a new solution here. We need to do something that is more modern, that is more flexible, that gives us the ability to go to market in a different way and still deliver the same level of quality and attention to detail, but doing it without killing thousands of trees.

(00:25:37): So we essentially started the process with you guys, working very closely with Tate to establish this new data warehouse, and most importantly, the Power Apps process of allowing our users to go through the allocation process with their distributor partners and seeing all the information that we had about the client. It was just magical in how we were able to transform the industry in how we go to market.

Justin Mannhardt (00:26:06): I recall, Jack, when we were just getting started, you were already off and running with the digital invitation process, but upstream of that, you still had your monstrosity of Excel that was used to determine who should get what.

Jack Irby (00:26:24): I'm still very proud of that Excel file. It was basically Excel, but it looked like an app.

Justin Mannhardt (00:26:29): It was good stuff, but you're basically full circle on that now, right? The process of how much wine do I have, where is it going to go, the collaboration with your regional sales managers, the feedback loops from the invitations, and then ultimately, seeing the logistics of the wine actually make it to all the places it needs to make. And that's all there now, right?

Jack Irby (00:26:49): It is, and it's something that we coined the Four Column report. It is the allocation, the response, the confirmation, which is important because there's that fine point adjustment of making sure that if the client has asked for more, if we can supply it, great. If we can't, if they ask for it way too much, we bring them down, because we do have a finite amount of wine, and then what we call the depletion or the sale of the wine that comes in. We've utilized all this technology of Dynamics CRM, which we consider our master data, Business Central, our ERP solution, Azure SQL, Power Apps, Power BI.

(00:27:30): We've embraced this entire platform to deliver a truly, a 360 degree view of the client. It's been fun to build, sometimes challenging to maintain. I'm dealing with data from other vendors and it's always interesting. We're doing something like no one else is doing in the industry.

Justin Mannhardt (00:27:52): And I've always found you, Jack. You said you like to be ahead, anticipating what's coming, what's changing with technology, but I've also found you to always be simultaneously thinking about lots of really neat ideas, but also being really thoughtful and careful even from our original work together. How do you balance that for yourself? You've got a hundred things, you're thinking about all the time of how you might tweak and improve this process, but you want it to be done well. What do you think about when you're making those choices.? Ultimately, you decided, 'Hey, let's go do this thing.' What convinces you that it's ready?

Jack Irby (00:28:29): Well, ultimately, I'm not a technology person.

Rob Collie (00:28:31): Go on.

Justin Mannhardt (00:28:33): Had me fooled.

Rob Collie (00:28:38): Let's give him some runway here, Justin. Let's see where he goes.

Jack Irby (00:28:42): It's interesting because, allow me to digress a little bit, because I think it informs my approach to a lot of this stuff. I was supposed to be a professional musician. I started off in elementary, middle school, high school, playing all the woodwind instruments, saxophone, flute, clarinet. Started working at a fairly early age. And because I lived in Southern California, the environment around that was very supportive of being able to do something like that. Got to study with some of the finest musicians in the world that were working in Hollywood at the time. Got to be on staff at Disneyland for a number of years, working in a variety of different groups there. Eventually ending up with the Disneyland band, which is the full-time organization that does a lot of different things, doing shows and concerts and parades and that type of thing.

(00:29:46): And then starting to do studio work and seeing the world from that side and then working side by side with some of my heroes. I was a kid and they were like my age now. I sat there going, I'm not sure this is what I want to do. I was good. I still have friends in the industry that they're all the top studio players in the US. There are people I grew up with, so I was on that path to go that direction. So I made a conscious move and decided I want to go back to school, and I got my degree in management. I thought, "Well, if I'm not a musician, I want to be a business consultant." It's like-

Justin Mannhardt (00:30:36): Sounds familiar.

Jack Irby (00:30:38): What do I know? But I had two problems there. I was too young and I had no gray hair. No one would listen to me. And that was about the time small business, PC consulting was starting to spin up, and I go, "Oh, I can get in through the back door doing technology."

(00:30:57): And I had a friend who was a trumpet player who had the same epiphany, and he had taken some programming classes. And we said, "Hey, let's start a consulting company." We don't know anything. It started to give us entrees into certain various industries, and one of the offshoots of that was some friends of ours came to us and said, "Hey, there's this new game. It's a fantasy baseball game called Rotisserie Baseball."

Rob Collie (00:31:33): Now we're talking my language.

Justin Mannhardt (00:31:35): Have you heard this story, Rob?

Rob Collie (00:31:36): No, I haven't.

Justin Mannhardt (00:31:38): I'm glad this came up.

Rob Collie (00:31:39): I was supposed to be a professional musician and became a business consultant. That's Justin's story. I was like, "Oh, okay. Another one of these."

Jack Irby (00:31:46): Yeah.

Rob Collie (00:31:47): Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa. Fantasy sports.

Jack Irby (00:31:50): So our friends came to us and said, "You guys know computers. Why don't you write a program to track baseball stats for this fantasy game?" I don't know if you know, it's called Rotisserie because the guys that started the game met at a restaurant in New York called La Rotisserie. And it went on and on, they wrote a book and all this stuff.

Rob Collie (00:32:12): I watched the SPN documentary on it. It was awesome.

Jack Irby (00:32:15): I think my business partner was in that.

Rob Collie (00:32:18): Really?

Jack Irby (00:32:18): At the time. Well, we started this company called Roto Stats. We first did it for our friends, and we go, "Huh, I wonder if we could do this for anybody else." So we put this little two inch ad in a now extinct insider baseball rag called Baseball America. All of a sudden we're getting calls from all over the country saying, "Oh, you do stats for Rotisserie Leagues?" And we go, "Yeah."

(00:32:47): So we basically started running this business out of my partner's extra bedroom, coming up with different ways to produce reports and tracking these leagues. We wrote our custom program from this. We grew it to the second-largest stat service in the country doing baseball stats.

Rob Collie (00:33:07): Damn.

Justin Mannhardt (00:33:08): That's so cool.

Jack Irby (00:33:09): And we got it to the point where it kept getting bigger, we had to move into an office, we had to hire employees. I remember negotiating leases on copiers that were the size of this room. So I took my management skills and said, we have a production issue. We have a path that we need to fall through. We need to be able to deliver a product in a timely fashion, and we have ringing in raw materials, which is stats, mashing them up and converting them into things.

(00:33:39): We had clients all over the country. We didn't know any of these people. They just said, "Oh, I like what you're producing. I want to hire your service." I don't know if you remember back in the old days when we had to place phone calls to potential clients. And you'd call somebody and say, "Hi, this is Jack. I'd like to speak to so-and-so." This is back when everybody had secretaries or administrative assistant, and you never get to talk to the person that you're actually calling. But we had a different scenario with Roto stats. I could basically call up anybody and say, hi, this is Jack from Roto Stats, so-and-so called and left a message, and boom, I'm right in. I'm talking to the guy, because this was more important than anything else that they were doing.

Justin Mannhardt (00:34:24): Yep.

Rob Collie (00:34:24): What was the service? Well, you were helping them run their own private rotisserie baseball league for them and their colleagues and friends. You were doing the scoring for them, essentially?

Jack Irby (00:34:33): They would send us their rosters and we would enter them into our system and then apply the current statistics that were... This is back before anybody charged for statistics. Almost like Bob James before Sabermetrics, before all that stuff, Moneyball. We would talk to these people all the time and they'd go, "Oh, yeah, I forgot to make this trade or something. Can you move this player around between player, team A, team B, blah, blah, blah?" And sure, that was part of our service. We were managing that process. This was pre-internet. We had a bulletin board system. People would dial into via modems, then get their stats.

(00:35:18): It was fascinating because we would get these messages from people. And so I'm calling this guy and it's a Washington DC number. "Hi, this is Jack from Roto Stats. Can I speak to Fred?" And they go, "Hold one minute." A couple seconds go by. And all of a sudden, this guy's on the phone say, "Oh, Jack, thanks for calling back, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Here's this thing." The next day I'm reading the Wall Street Journal. And you know how they have those little pen and ink drawings of people's faces, or at least they used to on the front page. I'm going, "Fred, Fred Goldberg." Oh my gosh. I was talking to the commissioner of the IRS. I had no idea.

(00:36:07): One time I get this call from this league called Scripps Baseball League, and they're down in southern California, the San Diego area. Get this guy on the phone, and he's whispering to me. He said, "Jack, I need to make this move." And I go, "Where are you? Why can't you talk?" He says, "I'm in surgery right now."

Rob Collie (00:36:34): It's a life and death matter if I don't get this out of my head.

Jack Irby (00:36:36): Exactly. And it is interesting, I wanted to be a management consultant, and all of a sudden I'm thrown into running the stat business for fans. I mean, truly fanatics that I didn't understand. Why were they so interested in this? I mean, I'm a baseball fan, but I wasn't to that level. And we would hear stories about some people would play for small amounts of money for this. Some people would, like at the end of the season, they'd win a car if they won their league. You could look forward and you could see the internet was coming. At one point, we got contacted by a company called Quantum Computer Services. Quantum Computer Services became AOL. They wanted us to run their stats service for them. And we said, no, we're too busy.

Justin Mannhardt (00:37:27): Oh, Jack.

Jack Irby (00:37:31): It was just like crazy fortune like that. But I guess what I'm trying to say is that that thread of attention to detail, identifying what the customer needs and delivering to them started back when I was a musician through my time at Disneyland, through my time with this consulting practice and Roto Stats and things like that. I eventually sold my half of the company to my partner and went on and started a consulting practice, just me hanging out a shingle, as I'm sure you did the same, Rob. Did that for about 10 years, got approached by another consulting company to acquire me. I said, "Okay." They were based on the East coast. I was on the West Coast. And probably the biggest upshot of that was that come three o'clock my time, six o'clock their time, I couldn't get anybody on the phone anymore. So my tennis game got really good at that time.

(00:38:32): And then one of my old clients had moved up to Northern California to run a internet wine auction company called WineBid. I just happened to be up in San Francisco at a trade show, and he said, "Oh, yeah, we should get together for dinner." And I met him for dinner, went to a very nice restaurant in San Francisco that's no longer there, but they were famous for having a very thick wine menu. And so the sommelier comes to the table and hands the menu to my friend, and he hands it to me. I just start going through it and I pick something kind of interesting, and he goes, "you know wine?"

(00:39:14): And I go... This was a client of mine from Southern California. You have that consultant client wall you don't cross. You don't tell them everything that you do. You don't tell them everything that you know. And he had no idea that I enjoyed wine, I followed wine for a while. And he said, "You got to come to work for me." Very shortly after that, I was at a point where I had sold my business. I was on an earnout with them. It was coming to an end, and I go, "Okay." So moved to Napa and started working with WineBid. This was 2000, 2001, internet bubble, blah, blah, blah. It was just fascinating time.

Rob Collie (00:39:57): My first ever interaction with a sommelier, I didn't know what that was, wasn't even aware of what that meant or anything. He didn't introduce himself as anything other than... But he was the most nicely dressed person in the restaurant. "What can I help you find to drink?" And I'm like, "What do you have on draft?" And he goes... Yeah, I mean, there was some offense taken. Well, you're going to have to ask your server about that. I don't know anything about... I was so embarrassed. I was expecting that story to end on an embarrassing note. I just picked something. They're like, "That's a $4,000 bottle, Jack. You don't know it?" "Nope, nope." You actually knew what you were picking.

(00:40:38): A while back when you were talking about this allocation solution. Both of you have been close to it. It wasn't super clear to me what all that thing does. And if I put on my deliberately naive hat for a moment, this is a self-serving, deliberate, naive hat, by the way. I would say, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a second. We're the Power BI company. What's all this other stuff? I'm hearing real line of business application stuff here. I'm hearing about read, write. There's actually data being changed and updated. What's going on here?' And I know that we do more than Power BI obviously, but this kind of stuff is super, super, super fascinating to me because everyone thinks about data, and I think for good reason, we think about data as a read-only exercise because it provides that visibility that we're talking about. The reason why you know that distributor's customers better than they do is because of the read-only second purpose of data.

(00:41:33): But that data wasn't being captured in the first place that you use to see what's going on. That wasn't being captured, do you could see it. It was being captured so that the businesses would run, their orders, get processed electronically, because otherwise they don't get processed. And as a result, there's a record of them. And that opens up recycling purpose, secondary use of the data, which is visibility. So I'm always super, super, super intrigued when working with any of our customers. We start to close the loop when we're not just doing the read-only stuff. We're also doing some of the read-write stuff. Let me see if I can play it back based on the understanding. Two of you clarify, especially you, Jack, obviously. Clarify for me what goes on. Okay, so a QR code, is it still a QR code?

Jack Irby (00:42:17): Mm-hmm.

Rob Collie (00:42:17): Okay, so a QR code gets generated. Is it still printed out and sent in a letter?

Jack Irby (00:42:22): Yes.

Rob Collie (00:42:23): Okay. So the customer, your customer-

Jack Irby (00:42:26): Well, it's not really our customer.

Rob Collie (00:42:29): But you have to think of them like that.

Jack Irby (00:42:31): Correct.

Rob Collie (00:42:32): Which is an innovation in your industry. It's a whole separate side story, but you have to sell your wines to a distributor legally in the United States because that's how apparently the United States broke the back of organized crime, or it was part of the story. I mean, we still had the Sopranos in the 1990s, so it wasn't a complete solution to the problem, but it's just like a leftover from prohibition era, post-prohibition era law. Who knows how necessary it is anymore, but we have it and it's not going anywhere.

Jack Irby (00:43:02): Mm-hmm.

Rob Collie (00:43:03): Because the nature of your product, the nature of the scarcity of your product, having a direct relationship to the ultimate buyer, the retailer or whoever the restaurant, is super, super, super important for you. So you, even though ultimately the business transaction that the exchange of money and product that happens with Opus One happens with a distributor, it's being performed on behalf of you know who's going to get it.

Jack Irby (00:43:25): We'd like to know that, yes.

Rob Collie (00:43:28): So the QR code goes to the end customer, not to the distributor.

Jack Irby (00:43:32): Through the distributor to the end.

Rob Collie (00:43:35): Okay, okay. So then that takes them to a website. What is that website?

Jack Irby (00:43:37): It's a brief introduction of the wine. We recap who you are, who you've logged in as, making sure that they see their name there. We display to them the quantity of wine that has been allocated to them. We make basically one wine in two versions and in multiple formats, meaning we have half bottles, we have full bottles, we have magnums, three liter bottles, things like that. And then we have a wine called Overture. It's not really a second label. It's all the same grapes. It's not sourced from a different location. It's just in our selection process of making Opus One, we will say, okay, this amount of wine is going to be Opus One and this wine, because it has different tastes, it's from a different vineyard block, whatever, is going to be Overture.

(00:44:34): We recap to them the quantity that we have allocated. We give them the option of decreasing or increasing that number. We ask for their name and email, not necessarily to capture and store that, but just to be able to recap down the process that someone asked for this. And that information is then saved, they get a confirmation email. And one of the technologies that we've used is incremental refresh in our data to the data warehouse, in that as soon as that is saved, it is landed in essentially a database on this allocation server that is then picked up by our data warehouse and transferred there so that nearly immediately our salespeople can recap to the distributors saying, here are all the accounts, here's who's responded, here's who hasn't responded, and here's what their quantities are.

Rob Collie (00:45:41): This website that they go to, is that the Opus One website? What's it implemented in?

Justin Mannhardt (00:45:46): We didn't build this part, Rob, if that's-

Rob Collie (00:45:47): No, I get it.

Justin Mannhardt (00:45:49): Yeah.

Jack Irby (00:45:50): While I'm intimately familiar with its operation, I don't know exactly what it was built in.

Rob Collie (00:45:56): So where's does the Power App come in? I was halfway expecting the Power App was somehow involved in that.

Jack Irby (00:46:01): Actually, there's two Power Apps. There's the allocation app that allows for our sales managers to work with our distributors and identify accounts and apply quantities at that level.

Rob Collie (00:46:16): Okay. To determine the allocation in the first place.

Jack Irby (00:46:19): Yeah.

Rob Collie (00:46:20): Yeah. Okay, cool. Okay.

Jack Irby (00:46:21): And that has some facility to not only show what's being allocated currently, but through integration with Power BI, we're able to show little snippets of historical information so they can see what the account has done in the past. So it's a lot of the information about the account. And then that also can link into CRM, so it's all one inclusive thing.

(00:46:44): And then the second Power App is after the fact of the QR code, in that the responses come in and we're able to then have our sales managers see the quantities that are being requested and then apply a confirmation number to that request so that we're managing the quantity of wine that we have available to the accounts. And then that information can then be pushed out to the distributor as well to say, here's your sales plan, give it to your salespeople, this is what we have confirmed going back. We're in a very interesting situation because I know most wine companies aren't able to do this, but we sit in this very interesting spot because of the rarity of our wine, the price of our wine, and ultimately, the profit margin for the distributor, that they give us a little more attention than they give to others.

Rob Collie (00:47:43): I mean, a case of wine is still the same size. It takes just as much effort to move it through their system as any other case, but the amount of margin for them is considerably greater.

Jack Irby (00:47:54): Yes.

Rob Collie (00:47:54): I can certainly imagine that gets their attention. Now, originally this system, I'm not sure if this was necessarily the impetus for it. This QR code and website system was like a replacement for the book. And if you think of it that way, it's sort of like, well, this is just a more efficient way to pull off the same thing. But it seems like or it sounds like this is not just a replacement for the book, but it's probably a more effective system, in general.

(00:48:24): I'm really sticking my neck out here with a guess, but when you send a book to someone, it's got a number in it. If everyone else gets in touch first and they grab all their allocation and that person wanted more, the number that's in their book isn't going to change because printed, whereas if the first two thirds of the QR codes you've sent out have been acted upon, you're getting information back about what the demand looks like from everybody, and there's the opportunity for when the next QR code gets scanned that their number might be a little bit higher or a little bit lower than what you would've sent to them in the first place. Do you ever make an adjustment like that?

Jack Irby (00:49:01): We do after the fact, and that's what the confirmation process is about. I think the most important thing is the business intelligence that we're able to garner from this in that we get the information first and we give it to them, as opposed to them collecting that information and then telling us what the client asked for. So it gets us one step closer to the end user of the product. To me, makes a lot of sense in dealing with this antiquated three tier system.

Rob Collie (00:49:31): It does. It does. Yeah. And I do remember this. My first three years outside of Microsoft, I was CTO of a startup while I was still incubating the blog. And in hindsight, what really I was doing was, this company that I worked for, was my first client. They just happened to be the most forward leaning. We incubated each other's businesses. I incubated theirs, and they helped me incubate mine, and then we parted ways and in 2013. And that's what I've been doing, P3 is what I've been doing ever since. We had Kendall-Jackson as a client, we had multiple alcohol and spirits manufacturers, producers as clients, and the three tier system, because of how insulated the producer, the first tier of the three tier system, can't see anything.

Jack Irby (00:50:13): Mm-hmm.

Rob Collie (00:50:16): In addition to all the usual problems about tools and not having the right tools to process the data and all that kind of stuff, you're also operating at arm's length from all of your ultimate customers. Data does become even more important there, like the Nielsen data and the IRI data, which I'm not sure is necessarily all that useful to you as a luxury product. That was the only thing that they had.

(00:50:35): Or if we got ahold of one retailer's worth of point of sale data, their whole retail chain, I mean, that was like a gold mine for the producer. Just kind of a fascinating dynamic. The ability to find ways to make that connection, both in the human plane and also in the data plane, is a really, really, really big deal. So I can imagine when you're going around at industry conferences and you're talking to other producers, other vineyards, et cetera, they're like, "Wow, I can't believe what you've all been able to do."

Jack Irby (00:51:06): The few times that I've shown what we've built, the comment is always, "There's no one else doing this." Even our ownership on the French side, they're like, "What are you doing?" Our whole international business is a completely different process. And what is interesting about all of this is that I've been fortunate to work with a company that has trusted me, that has trusted you into developing something very different.

(00:51:38): Our sales staff is now such that everyone in the organization wants to work for domestic sales because they're the cool kids. They have talked about this solution so much that other areas of the business are knocking on my door going, 'I want a little bit of that.' In the last year and a half, we hired another analyst that's working with another side of the company. The international side is starting to make noises about, 'Oh, we want to do something like what you're doing,' but they're different in how they go to market.

(00:52:13): So it's really a fascinating position to be in. And it's interesting for me because again, I didn't think of myself as a technologist. I'm a business interpreter. I talk to the business, I understand what their needs are, and then I turn around and I talk to the people that are able to build the technology, and we put this all together. So I feel like I play a lot of roles at this organization. Back when we started, 'What's your title?' It's like my title doesn't mean anything.

Rob Collie (00:52:47): Right. It doesn't matter.

Jack Irby (00:52:48): I'm a BI developer, I'm a data analyst, I'm a strategist, I'm a translator. It's all these things. Overall, I'm trying to bring a data culture to an organization that traditionally has not been one. And there's still so many opportunities out there that I don't have time for.

(00:53:11): Last year, I did a little pilot project where we were working with a graduate student from UC Davis, and they had developed an algorithm that tracked the fermentation process of the wine. So the wine comes into these very large tanks. It goes through this fermentation process over a matter of days, and they're looking to turn sugar into alcohol. Some of our tanks were set up with sensors and were measuring certain attributes, temperature and brix, which is the sugar level of the wine. And all this information was being captured by this graduate student's algorithm. And they said, "Well, we want to see this in Power BI." I said, "Okay, let's land this data in a SQL database and then I can go get it and show it to you." It was fascinating because all of a sudden they were seeing things, the sugar levels coming down over time, and it opened up a whole new world.

Justin Mannhardt (00:54:11): When you describe the rest of the company knocking on your door, Jack, and I see this everywhere, it's not like they all of a sudden woke up to these ideas. They've had these ideas, they just assumed it wasn't possible or it was too expensive or something. And they're like, "Oh, we could get off the starting line. Jack, how'd you do it? Jack, help us, Jack, show us the way." You sort of get to be a trailblazer with that kind of stuff. It's super cool.

Rob Collie (00:54:36): Is an amazing gift. The original mover in this is Microsoft. The way you described the way we work together, Jack, at the beginning, really close, intimate with the problem, not a committee, not a game of telephone where you sync with one person and that person then turns around and tries to replay this message to other people. No, but that kind of work, working that way wasn't possible before Microsoft completely revolutionized the way that the tools worked. And so the way that we work as a company, P3, I like to think of us, just like Justin was saying about you, I like to think of us, we are trailblazers, but we're trailblazers in applying the new wave of tools.

(00:55:18): So this is why these things are happening now. We're seeing this all over the place. We've had these problems, we've had these ambitions, and by the way, we come up with new ambitions once we see what's possible, for sure. But even that first wave of ambitions and those in the backs of your heads have been lurking there sometimes for decades. You just sort of intuitively knew that it was going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to get there. So the reason why now is so important is that you thought you couldn't do it yesterday. You were right. You thought that for good reason. When you start hearing these exciting stories about things that are actually happening, I think there's this internal conflict that happens like, okay, that's not possible. So it's really, I think, helpful for people to understand that it has become possible. You weren't failing in the past. You don't have to feel guilty about not having succeeded with this stuff in the past. Now is really the first time, if you can pick any period of time in the most recent few years-

Justin Mannhardt (00:56:16): Current era.

Rob Collie (00:56:17): Yeah. And say, now is the time where these things can actually be solved.

(00:56:21): Jack, I think you've been pretty early to that game. I think the majority of these sorts of ambitions and demands still remain untapped in the world, more so than they have been addressed, conquered, or frankly even engaged with. We're still really early in this game. It's an exciting game, but it's early.

Jack Irby (00:56:40): I'm very fortunate to work with an organization that allows me to do these things. We have this very elaborate vision. It's basically a drawing of talking about what it's like to work at Opus. One of the tenants is daring to lead saying, no, let's go over there and there's a good reason for doing it. Having the trust and respect of your organization is paramount.

Rob Collie (00:57:08): I have to bring up a quote. One of the first clients that we had, that I had in 2013, and we've done some public PR with them in the past, Kaman Industrial Technologies. And they've got a couple of different wings of their business. They make helicopters, among other things, and they have helicopter test facility at their campus with these big circular areas, walled off with logs so they can test rotors in them. So if the rotor comes apart, it goes into the logs. But their primary business is, at least the one I was helping, was an industrial distributor.

(00:57:40): Their founder, he was one of the big brain innovators of the 1940s, had this quote that was something along the lines of, "One of the first things you have to do when you're trying to achieve anything special is to overcome the naysayers, the doubters who say it can't be done." And this is such an important quote for their company, that it's like, when you walk into their main foyer, their front door, this is up on the wall, this really expensive, elaborate glass plaque. It's almost like a selection bias for us that we end up working with companies like yours. And you don't have to necessarily have this edgy sense of we're out to disrupt.

Jack Irby (00:58:20): Oh no, this is a very old business.

Justin Mannhardt (00:58:24): Just farming. Right, Jack?

Jack Irby (00:58:26): Did I mention it takes us three years to make the product?

Rob Collie (00:58:29): It's more like just a willingness to change. And I do think that it's not a guarantee, but a smaller team is an advantage. There's a lower likelihood, not zero, but there's a lower likelihood that someone somewhere is going to feel threatened by something new if there are fewer fiefdoms to defend.

(00:58:50): So we've really enjoyed in general working in this space. Everyone's unique, but there is some commonality across a lot of our clients that it's the single best feeling I've ever had in my professional career, is this level of helping things improve. You are open to the types of things that we bring, and your organization, your broader organization is open to the types of improvements that then you bring, in collaboration with us. And how much better does it feel than that? We can get paid to do that? Okay, let's just go do nothing but that. Okay, love it.

Jack Irby (00:59:27): As a friend of mine once said, "What's it like working in the wine industry" and he goes, "The parties are so much better." I bring that up to say, you need to come out and visit us, and you need to come out and smell what it's like to be in the valley.

Justin Mannhardt (00:59:45): Well, Jack, we'll have to facilitate something here. We'll trick your CRM system somehow.

Jack Irby (00:59:51): I know you guys get your group together once a year. Once a year in Napa would be a special.

Rob Collie (00:59:57): The next P3 retreat held Opus one.

Justin Mannhardt (01:00:01): Sponsored by [inaudible 01:00:03].

Rob Collie (01:00:05): Maybe something else, wasn't it? This allocation system that you're running now, was that the thing foremost in your head when you and I were talking in Redmond?

Jack Irby (01:00:14): It was not the impetus of that. What I was interested in when I was investigating Power BI, and I saw that you were given this foundation class and I thought, "Well, I'll spend the extra three days up there and do this," was to find out what other options I had to develop and facilitate something else.

(01:00:39): Because we had a system that was reporting, but it was challenging, but it wasn't that flexible to get the level of integration that we have now with CRM, business Central, SQL, all these things putting together. I should show you this drawing, I one time had to explain our system to our sales staff. And these are wine people, they're not technical at all. So I basically get up on a whiteboard. And you remember our fancy whiteboard.

Justin Mannhardt (01:01:11): I love your whiteboard, Jack. We got to come back because the facility's beautiful, the wine's great, and that digital whiteboard is fire.

Jack Irby (01:01:19): So basically was up there drawing boxes of saying, okay, here's this, here's this, here's this, this all connects, this is how the data flows back and forth. And it was basically this giant spaghetti drawing of different color boxes. That is what enables us to do what we do and make it look very easy because of the level of integration, the level of attention to detail that goes into all this. And again, it's the magic of we've embraced the Microsoft stack. We've used it in a way that I'm sure other people have done, but we're living the dream.

Rob Collie (01:02:01): All right, Justin, I'm going to put you on the spot here.

Justin Mannhardt (01:02:03): Okay.

Rob Collie (01:02:03): The Fabric word came up. Jack, I would really encourage you to join our Raw Data by P3 Adaptive steering committee where you can submit questions and suggestions for things for us to cover on the podcast. Got to get that plugin here. But seriously, Jack you specifically, I would love for you to be in there.

(01:02:21): So one of the questions that we got asked the other day that's queued up for our next Q&A session, but we'll tease it here, was with Fabric coming along, all of my investment as a professional in Power Query and Power BI in Dax, is that about to become superseded and stale? And, when in reality, the answer is no. There's going to be five new ways you can have them pay off, but there are maybe infrastructure shifts that need to happen in order to take advantage of all that. This is on the spot question. Jack's got this beautiful working system.

(01:02:54): First of all, there's a component of, if it ain't broke, what would be the benefits at a high level, the benefits and obstacles of transitioning certain pieces, parts over to the new Fabricy system.

Justin Mannhardt (01:03:07): Sure. So just answer this question by focusing on two extremes.

Rob Collie (01:03:12): I like that. I like that approach.

Justin Mannhardt (01:03:13): One extreme would be where could Jack's system become more efficient? So I know Jack, we've got Azure Data Factory, we've got SQL Data warehouse, and you're just one person. You work alongside a couple of others, you have a small team. So there's this aspect of okay, how could Fabric simplify the overhead of us managing this environment? I don't think for you it's particularly a huge problem, but it's like, can we save money? Can we make it easier to manage? Where I'd be more excited is going to the other extreme perspective, is what can Fabric allow us to do that we haven't been able to do? And it's actually funny, Jack, brought up the intern you had looking at the fermentation process and what's going on there. And I can't remember where I saw this from somewhere or Microsoft, where there was an AI machine learning application to assess the quality of the wine grape.

(01:04:05): You think about the parts of your business that you aren't impacting significantly. You've got this great system for your distribution and your sales process. What about... And I loved when you told me this when I first started working with you, came out like, "Justin, it's farming. We grow grapes." If people think of it as somewhat like it's just farming, where can you launch into new areas of benefiting from AI and analytics that you haven't tapped into? I think that's far more exciting than what might be real use cases for simplifying things. But you got to understand your team, you've got a small company, less than 100 employees, only a few of you are like self-serving data and analytics. So, okay, what is Fabric going to give to you specifically? Sure, it's great and you might want to think about it, but I think what are we not doing that we could be doing as opposed to some sort of overhaul?

Jack Irby (01:04:55): Yeah, exactly. And I've been keeping my eye on Fabric as best I can. This is what I do. I listen to people. This is very unusual for me to do talking, because I'm usually the one listening and trying to figure things out. I know that there's a tremendous amount of data that is being captured in our viticultural process that's living in Excel sheets somewhere. In the few conversations that I've had with the people in charge of that, asking questions like, 'Well what do you do with this data and how is this managed?' I'm chipping away at it, and it'll get there if I don't retire first.

Justin Mannhardt (01:05:39): All right, Jack's legacy is now officially on the agenda. That's how I would love to think about all these problems with almost any company, is especially if you've got something that's arguably good. Let's not move just for the sake of moving. What can we do now that we aren't doing?

Jack Irby (01:05:53): Oh, yeah.

Justin Mannhardt (01:05:54): Let's go forward from there.

Rob Collie (01:05:56): Yeah. I think the question often gets sort of, by default, formulated as, 'What are we doing about Fabric?' I'm not saying that you are saying this Jack, but there's a strong gravitational pull-

Jack Irby (01:06:06): Oh, absolutely.

Rob Collie (01:06:06): Towards formulating the question that way, as if it's like something you have to play defense against. Something's coming for me and I better get on board or out of the way.

Jack Irby (01:06:16): I'm constantly asked about Copilot. "When are we going to turn Copilot on?" And they go, "For what?"

Rob Collie (01:06:27): I'm not going to turn it on in the fields. Let's start telling people how to mix the grapes with Copilot. Nah, it's coming from various places, right? When it's better to have it on in a certain place than not, that's when you turn it on.

Jack Irby (01:06:38): We had a brief experience with AI. Someone in the organization asked that they turn on the AI function of Zoom because what that's supposed to do is listen and summarize your meetings back to you. I didn't know that it had been turned on until I was supposed to be in a meeting I couldn't attend for another reason.

(01:07:04): Shortly after the meeting ended, I get this email that's a summary of what had been said. And I thought, "Oh, this is interesting." I kind of know... I mean I know what the meeting is normally like and who are the players and things like that. And I could kind of piece it together. We had our little IT department huddle yesterday and the feature is still turned on. And we're doing it from a room and we've got a couple of remote employees, and everybody sees that there's this little flashing icon up in the corner of the screen. They go, "What's that?" They go, "Oh, that's the listening. It's listening to you." It definitely changed the tenor of the meeting. People basically said, 'Ah, I don't like this.'.

(01:07:50): And so at the end of the meeting, the recap comes out and it didn't say anything. It said, so-and-so said this and so... And then, because we were sitting in a room watching the screen, they didn't identify us individually, they just called it the room, I didn't really see the value. As one of my associates said, "Just take notes."

Justin Mannhardt (01:08:14): There's a lot of gimmicks right now with AI, right? Where it was, "AR product this. It's got AI built in."

Jack Irby (01:08:20): Oh, yeah.

Rob Collie (01:08:21): I mean, you have to say something about AI now.

Justin Mannhardt (01:08:22): Totally.

Jack Irby (01:08:23): Yeah.

Rob Collie (01:08:23): Salesforce.com ran an ad the other day, I saw, it was time to do more with AI or something like that. It doesn't even say really anything of substance. They're just trying to get the word Salesforce and AI out there at the same time in the same sentence. And that is unfortunately devastatingly effective marketing, right? Because It creates this FOMO, it creates this anxiety like, 'Oh no, there's AI everywhere. I am being left behind.'.

(01:08:50): Well, Jack, are there other data projects going on?

Jack Irby (01:08:52): Sure. Michael Doluisio is working with us on a project now that we're capturing all the traffic from our POS and what we call our direct to consumer system. And now, we had formally tried to bring that into Dynamics, but we were having issues there. So I said, "We know how to do this. Let's call P3 and let's spin up a data warehouse, bring all this data down and then we can actually use it to analyze."

(01:09:23): So that's in process right now. I'm doing some work with our ERP vendor to extract information from Business Central in a more direct path, give a little more visibility to financial information. So there's all kinds of stuff. And then the whole international team, they have their challenges with data. My manager's going over to Bordeaux in a couple of weeks and talk to them about how can we get more structured data from you guys so that we can do something with it.

(01:09:55): So again, there's all these opportunities, and I walk around the winery and I see tons of opportunities in the production process and the growing process that we'll see.

Rob Collie (01:10:06): Without knowing the details of your business, that is my sense of the entire world right now. Almost everyone is in that state or not even as far along. I think you're farther along on this than most. The amount of opportunity left to realize still very much overwhelms the opportunities that have been realized. And it's a very exciting time. I'm happy to be working in this kind of era. It's been really rewarding. And it certainly holds one's interest.

Jack Irby (01:10:34): I was just going to say it sure is interesting because it changes every month. There's something new.

Justin Mannhardt (01:10:42): Indeed.

Rob Collie (01:10:42): Well, once again, Jack, it's a pleasure to see you. Pleasure to talk to you and thank you so much for spending two hours of your time recording this with us.

Jack Irby (01:10:49): Truly an honor. I was afraid that I was going to suffer imposter syndrome, knowing the level of your previous guests.

Rob Collie (01:10:58): Let me tell you a little secret, two thirds of three quarters of the previous guests said the same thing.

Male Announcer (01:11:07): 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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