The “Secret-Key” to Creating Data Maps: Interview with John Stewart of Cloudbilt

There are many challenges that come along with the release of a new product, a new feature or a software upgrade; these are struggles that us SaaSAddicts know all too well.

That’s why, when the opportunity arises, I jump at the chance to learn from those that have successfully overcome such challenges. This week I had the pleasure of catching up with John Stewart of Cloudbilt.

In the following interview, John Stewart tells us about his success with MapAnything™. He offers personal advice to help us accomplish our SaaS objectives.

John, can you please tell us about your company and its flagship product, MapAnything?

Cloudbilt is an independent software vendor that develops applications exclusively for salesforce.com’s AppExchange.

Our flagship product, MapAnything™, is truly a map-centric user interface for Salesforce.  As the name implies, it lets you map any of your Salesforce data (whether custom or standard) on a map.

MapAnything™ provides real time geo-location, territory management, and analytics. It’s a tool that sales managers can use for active sales person management, territory management, and geo-analytics. Marketing teams can use it for location-based campaigning; it has many different use cases.

We have two other apps that are audit, adoption, and compliance related.

ezCloudAudit™ creates a view history for every record in Salesforce.  It establishes a complete chain of custody on proprietary information within Salesforce, allowing you to easily track Salesforce user views, behavior and activities.

ezFileLoader™ increases productivity by enabling users to drag and drop files directly into Salesforce records and email files from Salesforce records.  The app also provides profile- and user-based security settings along with detailed audit logs and attachment histories – at a fraction of the cost of obtaining them directly from salesforce.com.

There are many Salesforce Apps developed and being developed. How does Cloudbilt differentiate its services from the competition?

MapAnythingTM has a several core pieces of intellectual property that gives us our big advantage. One key differentiator is our cross-object query engine, which lets us traverse the Salesforce data structure.

Our query-caching engine is another unique asset.  It enables MapAnything™ to deal with large data volumes – meaning enterprises visualize millions of records.

Much of our success in building brand awareness is due to marketing and co-marketing with salesforce.com. We try to take advantage of all the partner resources they provide.  The salesforce.com ISV team is incredible – they have a fantastic partner program.

You’ve recently released the new 2014 version of MapAnything™. What were some of the challenges of introducing new features to existing users?

We actively listen to our customers and often this helps us determine new features and functionality.  With that said, it is essential to have user guides with screen shots and educational webinars available.

Much like when you initially train a new client, you need to focus on communicating “how” the new features and functionality help make a business user’s job easier.

What were some of the ways Cloudbilt prepared for and overcame the challenges of user adoption?

Providing ample support and training is fundamental.  You need to show users why it makes sense to use your application and present them with use case scenarios that resonate.  How can this app help me be more productive? Save me time?  What’s in it for me?

For our next release of MapAnything™, we will be using WalkMe™ to ensure smooth onboarding, simple configuration and user support. We see this as the next step in our goal of providing the best user experience possible.

What is the “secret key” to user-friendly software?

User-friendly software is all about the user experience.  You need to design your products around common use cases and recurring scenarios with the business user in mind.

When use cases and recurring scenarios have been well planned and fully thought through, training users on those use cases is easy.  They understand how the app will make their job easier and help them quickly execute common tasks – this drives user adoption.

Regardless of the number of features or menus – if you build your solution so that it is configurable to the client’s use cases. Then their perception is: getting to what I want takes only two button clicks.

John Stewart, Chief Executive Officer

John co-founded Cloudbilt, then known as Saber Solutions, with Ben Brantly in 2009. The Saber name was initially used in 2003, when John founded Saber Design and Analysis Services to provide engineering and manufacturing consulting services to the aerospace and defense industry. Saber Tactical was formed in 2008 as a division providing a complementary line of high precision firearms. John sold Saber Design and Analysis Services in 2009, staying on as Chief Operating Officer until 2011.

Under John’s leadership, the company grew from just two employees in 2009 to more than 25 employees in 2013, launched three successful products on salesforce.com’s AppExchange and opened offices in Atlanta, GA. The company was rebranded as Cloudbilt in May 2013.

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Omri Erel
Omri is the Head of Demand Generation, as well as the Lead Author & Editor of the SaaSAddict Blog. Omri established the SaaSAddict blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to SaaS and cloud migration.
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