Interview with Chris Bruce, President of ReportsNow
Chris Bruce is the President and Founder of ReportsNow. In a former life, he was a senior developer at JD Edwards, and helped create a product called Everest – now better known as EnterpriseOne. He has an engineering degree from Colorado University, and somewhere along the way he picked up playing the guitar as well as an affinity for golf and tennis. Chris and his wife have two wonderful daughters.
In 2007 when Chris Bruce left Oracle JD Edwards to start his own venture, he had specific ideas on the type of company and product he wanted to build. Learn more as he tells us about his professional journey in his own words below.
Why did you create ReportsNow?
Chris: I had a great experience working with bright people at JD Edwards for seven years. I left that very rewarding journey to create Dominion Software, now better known as ReportsNow.
There are two reasons I started ReportsNow. The first, was an idea of the type of company I wanted to create. I always envisioned starting an organization based on the fundamental principles of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. I subscribe to a lot of his ideals.
The second reason was more practical. I wanted to use what I know to make peoples’ lives better. In ERP, it had become very clear to me that there was a reporting “gap”. Despite the JDE reporting tools, business users were unable to create reports and assemble the information they needed. A common pattern I would see is people dumping all the data into Excel and doing days of manual work to get what they needed. Customers didn’t have confidence in the reporting system, but they needed to get their jobs done.
What is the most common business reporting challenge you see today?
Chris: For those who don’t have ReportsNow, the problem is still the gap. Businesses must consider how to empower their brain trust (i.e. business users) to efficiently assemble information.
The other business reporting challenge is managing the complexity of BI. In a BI system – there are at least 10 systems that need to work together to produce results. With each system, the cost goes up – and the more complex it becomes, people give up. Managing that level of complexity is very difficult.
How has the ReportsNow product evolved – and how will it continue to do so?
Chris: Today ReportsNow has more functionality and better features – like search, automation, email – than we’ve ever had. ReportsNow today encompasses more of what a business user needs for their practical report writing and problem solving requirements. We’ve evolved to continually meet those business needs.
With our latest release, DAS7, users can now easily create beautiful dashboards – they can slice and dice any dimension you can think of. The tool is very interactive; you can easily click around and drill down. With our mobile tool, mobie®, you can now push what you need into the cloud, making reports available on any device. This solves massive data problems, by making a very light weight data warehouse that you don’t have to manage
In essence, we’ve created an all-in-one BI – worry free dashboarding.
How do you incorporate user feedback into your product updates?
Chris: There are basically three ways we determine to make a product update. Either the customer straight up tells us something they need; we see something on our own that we know would make the product better – or in working with customers we jointly start to connect the dots and come up with a solution.
I also believe one of the things that makes ReportsNow special is the concept of genuine care. It’s not just about closing a support ticket; it’s really about understanding our customers’ problems. Through this better dialog, we get better feedback to steer the direction of the company.
This speaks to one truism I’ve observed: some of the hardest things in business are the simplest. We’ve kept it simple at ReportsNow by simply caring about our employees, our customers, and the quality of our product. Setting this standard allows us to rely on our employees and the pride they have in our product. And we’re very privileged to have such a good community as we do in JD Edwards.
What are the top ways companies benefit from integrating ReportsNow with JDE?
Chris: ReportsNow really extends what JDE can do. The dashboards users can create with ReportsNow can now integrate with any html Café One JDE app. With our mobile tool, mobie®, you can integrate a dashboard on any Café One page. This is especially cool with graphical information – such as customer maps.
ReportsNow gives users the capability to assemble the information that they want, and lets them organize reports in an automated fashion that is less error prone and less tedious than any other method out there. ReportsNow also lets users schedule and offload reporting from the duties inside E1. A lot of users don’t go back into JDE when they have ReportsNow for reporting – freeing up the system for other users.
How has mobile technology changed the ReportsNow product, and user experience?
Chris: For a while now there has been more and more of a push to have very functional, visual, interactive data available on any device. Developing our mobile solution mobie® was important for two reasons. One, the world is changing and people want data in a mobile format. Two, the mobile application allows you to share data with more folks who need to see it.
You provide a technology product, but how important is person-to-person collaboration in implementing modern business reporting standards?
Chris: It’s critical. We work with our customers every day on a person-to-person basis. There’s nothing that can replace that interaction, it’s so key.
In this digital age, people might say the need for fact-to-face communication is dwindling. I would say person-to-person communication is more important than ever. I think the digital age has actually elevated the importance of human interaction to a whole new level.
What is the number one thing businesses can do in 2017 that will set them up for future business reporting success for years to come?
Chris: The number one thing is: if you haven’t looked into ReportsNow – you should! We’ll make your JDE life so much easier. It’s at least worth a conversation with us. And, we invite a comparison with any solution out there. Learn about us, give us a chance, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The second thing is to do the research with your trusted business partners, such as Terillium. Come up with the list of things you want out of your business reporting, and start to learn your options. Do a good job of comparing, because there are huge differences in the solutions out there. Partners can offload from you some of the work of comparing different solutions.
Do you have plans to integrate with cloud products?
Chris: We currently connect with quite a few cloud products, like Salesforce and QuickBooks – as well as Oracle On-Demand.
What has been the most helpful resource for you as a business leader?
Chris: Personal and professional networks definitely. Our business partners help create avenues with us to communicate with new people about our product. My personal network of people from JDE and in this space has been extremely helpful.
Trade shows, like Collaborate, have been very important for promoting our business.
What is your favorite motivational quote, or best career advice?
Chris: Life is messy. A principle that I live by is that life comes first. We can be motivated professionals but personal life comes first. You have to take care of yourself and loved ones – the rest follows.
Another is, when you are presented with two paths, take the harder path. I’ve found it most rewarding to take the harder route, because it tends to drive the best innovation, generates the best exploration and understanding, and results in the most knowledge.
Besides revenue, how do you measure the success of your company?
Chris: I think success can be measured by the extent of being able to pursue what you want. Being able to work on things that are interesting to you and motivate you.
We also measure success by respect, and ultimately by the satisfaction of our customers, employees, and partners.
What value do you find in partnering with other businesses, like Terillium?
Chris: The value has little to do with the revenue. It’s about the mutual respect. We want partners that have the same values as we do. We want to represent and be represented the best we can.
What I’ve found that is once you have the mutual respect, a lot of great things will follow.
When you have an outlet, such as a partner like Terillium, to mutually help customers get to the point where they are working with the best solutions at hand and not struggling unnecessarily – that is the true value. Our relationship with partners help us to make people’s lives better, and that’s the most important part.