My Journey to GoodData

August 15, 2018
Kevin Smith's picture
VP, Product Marketing
Kevin Smith is Vice President of Product Marketing for GoodData. Prior to GoodData, Kevin was responsible for delivering consulting services such as analytic product strategy, data monetization, and go-to-market services at NextWave Business Intelligence. He is the author of numerous ebooks, articles, and webinars on embedded analytics and building data products. In addition to NextWave, Kevin has held leadership positions heading analytics teams, designing SaaS products, and performance and managing product teams for both small start-ups and Fortune 500 companies such as SAP, ServiceSource, and Qwest Communications. Kevin holds a B.S. in Finance, as well as an M.B.A. in Quality/Process Management, both from the University of Maryland, College Park.

On July 1, 2018, I exited the wilderness.

Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but it certainly feels accurate to me.

For the past several years I've been working as a strategy consultant, helping businesses add analytical capabilities to their products—something we often call a “data product." I had a wonderful time doing this. I was able to meet some amazing people, work with fun technologies, and bring new data products to the world.

But I felt like something was missing. There’s always that moment at the end of a project when you realize that you would never see the end result. That you would never understand fully how well (or poorly) the ideas that you had initiated impacted the real world. It was fun, but ultimately I needed more. I wanted to be part of a team, to see projects through their completion.  I wanted to see the loop closed. I needed to see the results of what I had proposed and the things I’d created. Without this critical feedback, I felt like I was stagnating, failing to grow. So my search began.

It wasn’t a difficult search—having been a product owner myself, I had gone through the process of evaluating analytic platforms and was familiar with many of them. As a consultant, I was exposed to even more analytic technologies – almost all of them very, very good. But I found myself frequently comparing them to something I’d seen in the past.

I’d look at the user interface and think to myself “that’s nice, but I liked the way that other platform performed when I built MY data product.” I would see a technology used to connect various data sources and think, “wasn’t it easier when I did it back then?” Of course, it was easy to chalk these 2 feelings up to fond memories and the distance of time as we’re all prone to do. So I ignored those feelings and moved on…

So, I continued working with other companies and with other technologies, but that nagging, lingering sense wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t shake that suspicion that I should be somewhere else.

And so, when I saw some of GoodData’s new functionality with GoodData Spectrum, it all came back in a rush. This was the platform that enabled me to build a data product in a month. Here was the team that had my back and came to my aid when late on a Friday, I messed up an analytics demo that I needed to present to my CEO on Monday morning. And, in the years since I’d last used the platform (for four different data products), they hadn’t been standing still.

The platform that made my past products successful was more extensive, could connect to data in new and better ways, and there were options for developing analytics that I could never before have imagined. But the team? That fantastic team that kept invading my thoughts? They hadn’t changed a bit.

I made a choice to come in from the wilderness and join GoodData on July 9, 2018. To join a team of consummate professionals developing and deploying what I feel to be the single best choice for data products. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with this team on this platform. And, I feel lucky to hopefully, possibly, share with you a just a little bit of the GoodData experience that made my choice so simple.


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