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Company Culture

Going Against the Grain

on November 05, 2013

I enjoy reading New York Times technology columnist David Pogue’s blog posts on the latest happenings in technology. His October 10th post discusses T-Mobile’s bold moves earlier this year in the US to do away with contracts and mobile phone equipment subsidies. Since March, T-Mobile customers can quit whenever they like without any penalties. In other words, no more two-year contracts. At the same time, they became the first US carrier to eliminate the 15-second recording of voicemail instructions and thus eliminate a waste of time for both callers and mailbox owners. And the coup de grace was T-Mobile’s action to eliminate what Pogue refers to as the “Great Cellphone Subsidy Con” where you buy a $600 iPhone for $200, pay for the difference over two years as part of your phone charges, yet after you repay the difference your monthly bill doesn’t drop.

For T-Mobile, the results have been remarkable. In the second quarter of 2013, T-Mobile added 685,000 new customers. That’s more than AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint combined.  And they did it by going completely against the grain – they put customers first.

On October 9th, T-Mobile took yet another step announcing that beginning in November, it will eliminate international roaming charges and adopt a global flat rate for phone calls while outside the US with no charges for data or texts. AT&T, in contrast, charges $60 for 300 megabytes of data usage, $10 for 50 texts (plus $0.40 for each text over 50), and $30 plus $1 per minute for a month of international phone calls. Compared to AT&T, T-Mobile is giving up $100 per month of international roaming plus 80% of the charges associated with calls. Giving up revenue? That’s going completely against the grain.

Mike Sievert, chief marketing officer at T-Mobile and a former chief marketing officer for AT&T, told Pogue something really great. “Those other companies sit around trying to figure out what customer charges they can get away with,” he said. “We sit around and say, ‘What can we get away with not charging the customer?’”

That’s the same approach we’ve taken at Oversight to address data analysis with Insights On Demand. We decided that data analysis can deliver insights into data without big perpetual license software costs and without big fees for setup and customization to meet the specific needs of our customers. Our philosophy is to engineer solutions sophisticated enough to eliminate all of the hidden costs and fees.

Our philosophy is like T-Mobile’s – what can we do to eliminate costs.  We have figured out ways to streamline data acquisition. That eliminates one big cost for our customers, a cost that is usually not discussed in a lot of detail by other companies.

We have figured out ways to tie the cost of the delivery of valuable insights based on the frequency and complexity of analysis and the volume of the data to be analyzed. Our customers pay based on what they need and how much they consume, not based on measures like revenues or employees that automatically cause bigger companies to pay higher prices.

We’ve figured out how to focus data analysis on specific objectives and engineered a survey that tailors the analysis for customers on the front end. Further we allow the system to learn as they use our solutions. The net results, our customers don’t have to pay for custom development to make sure that the solution works in their environment.

Finally, Insights On Demand deliver answers that yield action. Our customers don’t have to “explore” data or correlate results to get to answers, our solutions deliver the answers. Our customers focus on action. This eliminates a hidden cost that plagues many data analysis solutions – creating more work than is saved.

We agree with T-Mobile’s philosophy.  At Oversight we sit around and say, “What can we do to reduce the costs of analyzing data and taking action?” Like T-Mobile, Oversight is going against the grain. You should think about going against the grain, too.

Patrick Taylor

Patrick Taylor is an authority in the convergence of business analytics, information security, and the implementation of technology to boost organizational performance. An innovator in his field, Patrick founded Oversight Systems in 2003 and served as President and CEO for 15 years. In this role, he helped hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies improve financial, accounting, and auditing processes. Previously, Patrick held leadership positions with Oracle, Symantec, and Internet Security Systems (ISS). Patrick has a bachelor’s degree Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.