With every announcement detailing Vision Critical’s next steps as a company — the sale of its R&C Division, launching its new cloud-based product – IPO rumours always follow.
Yet, as CEO Scott Miller has said, Vision Critical is in no rush to IPO — it’s in a rush to be ready. With the sale of its research division finalized, the company is now hyper-focused on product development with the hiring of Divesh Sisodraker, who is joining the team as Vision Critical’s executive vice president of product. Sisodraker has experience as executive vice president and chief product officer of ScribbleLive, and is the founder behind Taleo, which was taken public and sold to Oracle in 2006. Sisodraker spoke with BetaKit about the company’s next steps.
Has your experience with companies like ScribbleLive and Taleo can prepare you for challenges you’ll face?
I spent most of the last twenty years in the enterprise software industry and I watched the evolution from client servers to SaaS. When I took Taleo public, it was actually the second-biggest software IPO on NASDAQ in 2005, and I believe it was the second SaaS company that went IPO. There were a lot of challenges back in 2005 explaining the business model to analysts because they were not used to a recurring revenue model like we have here, but it’s become the norm. So there’s a lot of operational subtleties to managing a SaaS business, and there’s a lot of agility that you can bear in a SaaS business.
Vision Critical has grown quickly over the past few months. Is your software keeping up with the changing demands of your consumers?
The company is doing exceptionally well. We have hundreds of clients around the world, and we have grown the software business dramatically over the past few years, but in particular, the marketing area or the marketing tech stack has a massive opportunity in it. The company is exceptionally well-positioned to start to grab more share of wallets in the marketing tech stack and take Vision Critical insights and help deploy them for enterprise.
In an age of the customer where the world is becoming more marketing-oriented than sales-oriented, and consumers are inundated with messages all day every day, the kind of insights that Vision Critical brings to the table can help organizations perform better, be it in marketing, product development, or designing the customer experience.
What are the specific challenges that your customers are facing?
One of the really interesting areas the company has worked on is all-around product ideation and software targeted to helping people manage the entire product lifecycle. So with the idea screen and the idea hub, these are products designed to help organizations be a lot more agile, test products, and test concepts in the marketplace before writing a stitch of code or investing a dollar in development to ensure that the products they’re developing are hitting their markets.
So there is a great opportunity there for us to accelerate parts that are doing well and also where we can do better. As the world of product development becomes more agile, these kinds of agile tools to help you test the market before you make large investments are critical.
We’ll have new products coming out around guided insights that hit this market exactly around feature segmentation and feature development that help product managers and marketers make better decisions.
You’ve talked about the potential to leverage customer intelligence in ‘multiple functions’ in the enterprise. Can you be specific about what functions exactly?
You can use traditional methods of product development, you can go with a product manager’s gut instincts, you can do small focus groups and coffee shop interviews. But none of that should substitute for real data gathered from multiple constituents. So that’s an area where you can take good marketing and customer insight and optimize the product development process.
Getting continuous feedback across the customer life cycle is critical, as well as continually redefining the customer journey and customer experience. Virtually every area of the enterprise can benefit from more customer insight.
Does the sale of your R&D Division to MARU Group mean that you’ll have less to work with when it comes to developing your own product?
One hundred percent, this sale will make things clearer, let us innovate faster, let us bring products to market faster and let us increase our momentum in the marketplace.
We are now a pure SaaS software company, so we are managing pure software metrics and there’s no ambiguity around the kind of company that Vision Critical represents in the marketplace. So when somebody is engaging in Vision Critical there’s no ambiguity in their heads as to whether they’re dealing with a research and consulting company or a software company. And there’s no ambiguity for our staff as to whether they’re selling software or market research.
So it’s a matter of becoming really good at one thing, then?
As companies grow, they tend to have little experiments that happen throughout, and the focus becomes very diluted. What can happen if you’re not careful is that you’ll have a bunch of people in the boat, but their oars aren’t hitting the water at the same time or in the same direction, so you lose momentum. So simplicity, clarification, and focus help everyone get their oars in the water at the same time and same direction to build momentum.