Decision Lens boosts product play with R&D tool
- By Mark Hoover
- Jul 17, 2014
As the old saying goes, “no risk, no reward.” But what if you could reduce risk and still be rewarded? That’s what Decision Lens wants to do with its recently launched research and development product that aims to help leaders make tough decisions in the face of uncertainty.
Decision Lens R&D and Innovation is a SaaS-based cloud solution meant for resource optimization.
Let’s say a company wants to invest $5 million into research and development. “We’re going to give you a solution that allows you to do a scenario analysis so you can look at your possible portfolios from a number of different perspectives – different constraints, different inputs from data, different inputs from people,” said John Kealey, Decision Lens CEO.
The company is a software developer that works on mission-critical enterprise planning, financial, IT and performance-related decision making tools. But the company wasn’t always a product-focused company.
John Kealey, Decision Lens
Over the last 18 months, Decision Lens has transformed itself. The company used to be a platform-focused company that would chase any use case that a client would present to them, but not any longer. Their thinking was, “if we develop a couple of products, we can position those products in a way that the value to the customer is clearer," Kealey said. "Making our value proposition clearer has really helped us target the market the way we need to target it, and shorten the sales cycles."
Much of their success has been owed to their two main solutions, Decision Lens Capital Assets and the R&D and Innovation product, which was released in March.
As for the capital assets product, “we already had a lot of capital assets customers, so we have seen a lot of demand in the marketplace for this. Capital assets tend to be very large,” Kealey said. “So, having an automated analytics solution like ours can help create some insight there, help you deal with data more easily, and help you deal with the opinions of many stakeholders more easily.”
But the new R&D product is the one that showcases the company’s technology and value, he said. Research and development is a very high-risk area for a number of reasons. First, you can have very large portfolios. That’s why Decision Lens made their product scalable.
“We wrote a lot of complex algorithms to allow you to take very large portfolios and do analysis that allows you to change assumptions or change certain constraints, and in a matter of seconds, see what your new portfolio would look like based on the new set of assumptions and constraints,” Kealey said.
Second, when dealing with research and development, there is a large volume of data as well as data sets that need to be incorporated. Decision Lens' product helps parse out all of this data and understand its effect on your portfolio.
Thirdly, the decisions you’re going to make tend to be multi-year decisions, Kealey said.
“Let’s say I’ve got a certain amount of money that I’m anticipating over the next three to five years. I’ve got all of these possible threats that I want to be able to address, projects I want to be able to invest in to address those threats, I’ve got a number [of projects] that I’m already investing in but it’ll take another two to three years to complete them, and I know that I’m going to have a number of new threats come on the horizon,” he said. “I need to make sure that I allocate some of my future spending dollars to deal with those threats, and we’ve built a very simple to use but complex system to be able to do that multi-year planning.”
But the product is also focused on collaboration; it has a capability where different people on a team can weigh in on the decisions that need to be made, Kealey said. If one person’s subject matter expertise is greater than another team member’s expertise, the product can make that first person’s voice louder than the others, Kealey said.
“You can bring in whole departments as one voice, or aggregate them out by position,” he added.
The product also allows you to understand which projects require which kinds of expertise. “A number of different projects all draw on a particular skill,” Kelsey said. “And let’s say my top five projects all require the same resource.”
The product will generate multi-year statistics that can identify projects to begin this year, and which ones will have to be started in the future, based on the availability of the team’s skills and availability.
Along with Decision Lens Capital Assets, the company’s R&D product has led the company to its most successful first quarter in company history, Kealey said. Going forward, Decision Lens intends to continue to execute on its plans to be a product company.
“More people are being asked to do more with less, and the more that pressure is on you, the more you have to be worried about portfolio optimization because there are fewer things you’re going to be able to fund. So, they better be the right things, and we’re benefitting from that,” Kealey said.
So, the company will continue to focus on its products. That isn’t to say that Decision Lens won’t do other work for its clients. “We do a lot of IT prioritization, for example, and have a lot of good assets around it,” he said. But the company’s main focus will be on scaling their products in those two markets, as well as scaling the company itself.
Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.