This interview with Garrison Atkisson, founder of broadAngle, was conducted via online in 2012. Portions were used as part of a post for Business Agility. I met Garrison during my grad school days at Georgia Tech. Later we crossed paths, and the result was Zimana providing SEO analysis for a broadAngle client, OverTime Magazine.
Garrison is a terrific person, and his insights – even better! So it’s great when he shares thoughts from which other entrepreneurs can learn. Read a bit of what he shared with me few of his thoughts below. I am always grateful for Garrison and his wife Aysem for their friendship, and happy for their teams’ growth.
1. You started broadAngle in 2007, originally with a video product. What brought about change to services?
We started broadAngle in late 2007 with the intent to develop and market a product that helped corporate clients manage and deliver video content using a custom branded player. The economic crisis of 2008 made this very difficult for us. We found ourselves in a position where we needed to re-evaluate our strengths and the needs of the market to find a more viable business model. We had assembled a great development team for our own product development, and pivoting the business to provide their development services to our clients was a natural fit. It was much easier to demonstrate value with a services-based strategy that it was trying to create a new market for our product.
2. Four years is a long enough time for technology changes to introduce new trends and behaviors. What changes have you seen from customers recently that surprised you?
When we started offering software development services in late 2008, small and medium sized businesses seemed more reluctant to outsource to a company that was delivering its services using offshore resources. I do not know if the market itself has changed, or if our responses to this reluctance have helped to combat their fears. Generally, clients seemed to be concerned with their ability to manage and direct a team on the other side of the world, which is obviously a valid concern. We put several things in place that made it easier to do business with us, and gave our offshore services a local feel. First, we use VoIP technology to ensure that clients have a local US based phone number at which to reach us, second, our development team works shifted hours so there is more overlap with clients in the US and in Western Europe. Third, we only hire employees that are fluent in English. Finally, senior staff members make regular trips to the US to visit clients, and occasionally will work on-site to put a face to our service. Is short, we provide the benefits of offshore development services while retaining a local feel.
3. Your business is unique in having served customers in Europe and the US. Have you discovered unique differences in how businesses in each region approach business intelligence services? How have those differences affected business process management or decision management from your experiences or observations?
I am more surprised by how similar our client interactions are regardless of their location. I do not know if it is a symptom of the globalization of business in general, if the world is “getting smaller” due to technological changes, or if the function of our business and the service we provide is dictating the form of our interactions with customers. The differences that we do see are more related to corporate culture than to any regional differences.
4. How has broadAngle adopted the cloud for its clients and what lessons has the team learned along the way to implementation?
The popularity of different forms of “cloud” technologies, SaaS (Software as a service), PaaS(Platform as a service), and IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) has affected our clients in a lot of ways. The most common seems to be that IaaS makes it easier to deploy software by simply rolling out a new virtual machine instance for development, test, or production use. We’ve built solutions that integrate SaaS services to add customer relationship or salesforce management functionality to custom applications that otherwise would have been out of scope due to time or budget constraints. We haven’t done much with PaaS outside of some internal research projects, but solutions like Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk show lots of promise as the services mature.