Orchestra Networks is often described as being “business-focused.” While many prospects assume this is just shorthand for the easy-to-use and easy-to-adopt interfaces in our MDM/RDM software, EBX5. However, for us, being business-focused also means aligning our organizational processes to facilitate the success of our customers in the long and short-run. We focus on usability because we understand that easy-to-use software speeds adoption. And business team adoption is an essential ingredient in every successful MDM program.
Ensuring our customers’ long-run success requires making sure our MDM technology continues to satisfy their evolving needs. Understanding customer needs is why we routinely survey our base and why our board members, executive team and I meet with customers on a periodic basis. As we approach our first hundred customers, we have sought new ways to scale the acquisition of feedback and develop a community of practice around MDM. The Customer Advisory Boards are part of our efforts. While our CAB program has been in place in Europe for nearly two years, last Tuesday was our inaugural North American meeting and by all accounts a success.
The knowledge gleaned in these customer advisory board meetings (in addition to other forms of market research) helps provide insights into how our customers are using the product and what they require from a technical and non-technical perspective. For example, on the non-technical side we’ve learned that our customers need ideas, support and assistance with how to explain MDM to their business teams and build business engagement and adoption. This is why we have sponsored an upcoming webinar with Alain Dubost, the global head of MDM at Michelin who will be delivering a case study on how he and his program team built business engagement. Given the hundreds of registrations we’ve received thus far this must be a common challenge. We also learned that our customers are eager to participate in peer-level interactions related to a wide range of adoption and implementation topics. They would like us to facilitate such information sharing through other mechanisms, in addition to the CAB, examples would include self-help forums, LinkedIn groups, etc.
For our customers, the CAB creates the opportunity to to influence the direction of EBX5, our product and key aspects of the post-sales customer experience. Several of the attendees also told me that they also enjoyed ‘putting names to faces.’ They enjoyed meeting our staff in customer service, marketing and product management that they have interacted with through the years. And then there’s the peer-to-peer networking. Through the CAB our customers meet other who are dealing with similar MDM and data governance issues. By seeing how these other customers dealt with similar (but not the same) issues our hope is that these new perspectives lead to new insights. Ironically, this topic was recently covered in an article in the Harvard Business Review by Alex Pentland called “Beyond the Echo Chamber.” In the article, Pentland asserts that to improve one’s decision making skills, one needs to constantly conduct “social exploration,” or seek out a wide range of new people and ideas. Perhaps this also extends to problem solving and MDM.
To those customers that attended our North American CAB we thank you for your attendance and your feedback.