We have really big things coming to Transform over the next few weeks. Without spoiling the surprise, we spoke to our COO, James Mayfield, for his view on what brought us here and where we're headed.
When you started Transform with Nick and Paul, what was the main goal?
James: I think that when you work at bigger companies, especially on internal tooling teams, you have a glimpse into the future because these bigger companies are building things they can’t buy. This is mostly because the market can’t keep up with the needs of these companies who are producing massive amounts of data. Those needs are super specialized or they have some kind of bleeding edge requirement that is pushing technology and the market just hasn’t caught up yet.
So, when I left Facebook to go to Airbnb, I felt that at Facebook I had been given a glimpse of what the future was going to look like when it came to these extraordinary data sizes. I ended up bringing a lot of that line of thinking to Airbnb and built on top of it - questioning what the next level of data tooling that empowers even more use cases at a company like Airbnb was going to look like.
I helped build out a lot of those things and realized that the concept of metrics is something that is the next horizon. We've been incredibly fortunate and blessed to have seen how that plays out at companies that are on that bleeding edge and the way we were able to make use of data through metrics at Airbnb is a pattern that I believe all companies should have the opportunity to do. Metrics are a shared language across business and technical teams: they create the opportunity to capture and evaluate business performance, and they are sourced from the most technical aspects of a data infrastructure.
We started Transform with the hopes that we could be ahead of the market. We wanted to bridge that gap for people who had been previously disempowered by some part of the data ecosystem and actually empower them to make data informed decisions by using metrics. Metrics allow people to use their time and money most effectively
How has our product vision evolved to better meet the needs of the market?
James: The most interesting thing about where we're going is that when we started Transform, we thought the metrics layer itself would be powerful enough to achieve the end goal that I just mentioned: to be a standalone part of a data stack, to help drive companies to make those data informed decisions using metrics.
What we’ve found is that our customers and the market are in need of an application of metrics that makes it easier to empower data informed decisions. That’s been our north star for awhile now. We want to build a world where everyone can access accurate data in order to make informed decisions for their organization, helping everyone understand the importance and impact of metrics.
Can you share some of the feedback that you've received from our early beta customers?
James: Early beta customers have been enthusiastic about this concept of self-serve. One of the most unappealing parts of being a data analyst or a data scientist focused on analytics is writing SQL and building dashboards that need constant attention and tweaking.
If data analysts are spending their time just responding to requests for new dashboards that need to be created, existing dashboard that need to be tweaked or slightly rearranged so that this icon can be here and that widget can be there, or whatever it may be, it’s eating up a huge amount of their time and energy. It doesn't let them focus on the higher level insights that they want to work on and that are important for actually driving the business forward. They are solving basic curiosity through dashboard and SQL statement authoring instead of becoming insightful and persuasive with real kernels of utility that are going to drive the company forward.
So the promise behind Transform is: set up the semantic layer and then allow less technical people to self-serve.
So, we've all worked really hard in preparation of what we're going to release at the end of the month. What are some of the most impressive accomplishments our teams have achieved in preparation of the new release?
James: That's a good question. The thing that is most striking to me is the pace at which our team was able to decide on an application of metrics and then build it.
It’s not easy to reorient and realign a team in a company to a new use case. It's a testament to the quality and flexibility of the people we have here and a gold star example of how quickly our designers can design things, our engineers can develop a backend and then a front end for things and actually ship it out to customers at lightning speed.
What are you, personally, the most excited about?
James: I think it goes back to that promise. If you believe that you've seen the future of how data can and should work and you have seen that teams and companies can save time and energy and do less repetitive work and do more high-impact, insightful work with data, then you have something that you're passionate about. All of us at Transform know that we’re going to make people's work lives better and that's the thing I'm the most excited about - fulfilling that promise of "if you use Transform, your work life will be better" and that is a story we can tell with confidence.