Kinetic Data co-founder and president John Sundberg answers 10 questions covering topics from his personal background and early experience working on an IT help desk to how Kinetic Data got started, how the company's approach to solving problems differs from competitors', why the Enterprise Request Management concept is important, and how Kinetic Data software is used for functions from student onboarding to managing internal business services transactions .
"Kinetic Data applications are designed to allow business users to structure and modify their own processes. When it's simpler and less painful to implement changes, people are inspired to pursue new ideas."
How did Kinetic Data come to fruition?
To go back a bit, I had a computer while I was in middle school, before anyone else I knew did. I learned how to program, built some programs, took others apart, trying to learn how everything worked. I majored in math at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., and I really liked the logic part of math. I found a connection between the logic of math and how computers were able to be used and was extremely interested in using computers to solve problems from that point on. After college, I was hired by Wilson Learning, where I worked on the IT Help Desk. It was a great place to learn because I had all sorts of technology problems thrown at me. After that, I worked at 3M, where I served as a liaison between IT and the other departments.
My dad ran his own business, and as a result, I always thought that big companies were the place to be. However, once I was in a large company, it became obvious to me that to do great things, you had to get rid of a lot of red tape. I thought about creating my own business—so I could go 100 mph on ideas I would have. My wife was pregnant, and it became a now-or-never scenario on whether to start my own business. With Kinetic Data, we landed in a niche that benefits big companies, so it’s a good blend of my background.
One could say that I moved from interacting primarily one-on-one at Wilson, to groups at 3M, to organizations at Kinetic Data.
What is different about Kinetic Data’s approach compared to its competitors?
Our applications allow our customers to say “yes” to their project needs. We help people say "yes," because our software approaches its tasks in a way that’s safe: our applications are designed to make it easy to test new business processes and then roll back to a previous state if desired. The competition approaches software like a sausage grinder—once you implement their software, there’s no going back, because they require changes to core code in enterprise applications.
The business world is looking to be more agile. We create the ability for people to do more with what they already have. It’s better to take what the companies have and expand upon it. We identify the low-hanging fruit for our customers which makes it easy for them to move forward. Rather than spending months on a development project and then rolling it out in "big bang" fashion, we enable our customers to quickly develop small applications that solve specific problems and then incrementally build in more functionality over time.
What is your business philosophy?
From a customer perspective, we take a new approach to solving problems. Kinetic Data creates solutions to issues that our customers aren’t even thinking about yet, so when they think about it, we’re already there. We have sayings around here like, “Poof—it’s done! Now what?” In other words, we help customers see their immediate need being solved, and envision how they can build from that point. Then we’re ready to deal with the whole. In regard to the perspective of running Kinetic Data, we have one plan—to be profitable. I have four kids, and they need mittens. If you roll the dice, you’re a fool.
You have used the term “Enterprise Request Management.” What does this mean?
Enterprise Request Management is a holistic approach for centralized business process automation and service delivery management. Our main product is Kinetic Request, and it’s changing the business world. It the first of its kind in that it enables companies to replace a hodgepodge of different software interfaces and forms with a single, intuitive, web-based portal where employees can order any type of business service—with no training. Kinetic Request is used in companies for equipment requests, employee onboarding and more. Online universities are using Kinetic Request for student onboarding.
How does Kinetic Data save companies money?
We think in terms of internal business services transactions that companies have to do as part of their business. Our software saves a company approximately $10 for each of these. We’re great at taking pain—and costs—out of a company’s processes. We design our software for long-term use at a company, not for some quick and dirty solution. It's created to make life simple for the non-technical business user, otherwise it won’t get used. Although there may be multiple, complex processes that happen in the background to fulfill an employee request, we hide that complexity from the user. Employees can focus on doing their jobs, rather than managing requests for the services and equipment they need, and that helps the companies in terms of employee turnover and lower costs.
Talk about your approach to consulting versus selling software.
Companies want more consulting than we first anticipated. They buy our software for an initial process and then see the value for many other processes. I prefer selling software over consulting, but we want to meet all of our clients’ needs.
It has been said that you can “see processes.” What’s that about?
You know the movie “The Sixth Sense”? Like the little kid in the movie, I can see things others don’t. I see human psychology patterns, and I use that in designing our software. I sense that people don’t bring up ideas because they see the roadblocks ahead of them, and it’s easier to just accept something that’s broken. Our applications are designed to allow business users to structure and modify their own processes with minimal IT involvement. When it's simpler and less painful to implement changes, people are inspired to pursue new ideas.
What are the most popular industries that use Kinetic Data products?
Our software really has no specific vertical industry. However, we have found that industries that have high-volume human interactions, such as the healthcare world and the federal government, are major users of our software. Telecommunications companies also are power users of Kinetic Data software.
It seems like your customers love Kinetic Data.
Kinetic Data software makes our customers heroes in their organizations, and they love us for it. Our software transforms both the organization and the people who work there. We have an annual user group conference, the Kinetic Enthusiasts Group (KEG), that’s all about creating, connecting and learning, and we get a great turnout. They’re committed.
What are the future products and growth plans for Kinetic Data?
We want to make it easier for smaller companies to buy our software. I want people to be able to use it within a week of purchase. We expect explosive growth ahead of us.