Throughout his career, Guy Yehiav, CEO of Profitect, a prescriptive analytics software company based in Burlington, Mass., has learned two vital strategies when implementing large-scale tech projects.
One—move fast. “When you implement something for six to nine months, a lot of things happen. People move their career onwards and upwards, and they leave that company or they stay but go to a new role. People sometimes forgot, ‘Why did we even buy that tool?”
Two—simplify. “[The technology] needs to be [showcased] in a way that everyone understands, so it needs to be democratized to the lowest common denominator. Because of that, you will have more stickiness.”
Yehiav, who started a company called Demantra US before selling it to Oracle (and spending four years in a senior leadership position there), has used these principles to help grow Profitect. This year alone, the company has seen 200% growth year-over-year and this will be the third year in a row they are doubling (in revenue), he says.
How the tech works
Quite simply, Profitect specializes in analyzing data and identifying behaviors that cost a company money. “We take the data, we ingest it, we run machine learning and A.I. algorithms, we look for patterns of behavior, we translate it into a descriptive insight with a prescriptive action, and then we follow through with the workflow and make sure that the prescriptive actions were actually taken,” Yehiav says.
To the point of Yehiav’s first strategy, when the company started, the objective was to roll out the enterprise application for a customer in two months. Nowadays, it’s done in three weeks or less.
This is likely because the company’s major markets include retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG). Those industries rely on fast on-shelf availability, which make them natural targets for prescriptive data. For instance, Profitect’s data algorithms can identify when companies should have a product on the shelf for consumption, rather having to scramble when it’s not there.
To the point of Yehiav’s second strategy, prescriptive insights are written plain text that anyone can understand, he says. “You need democratize the analytic to people in plain language because you have a lot of end users in the field, in retail and CPG,” he notes.
Being in the Boston area presents one of the biggest challenges Profitect faces. “Talent is everywhere, but you’re competing with the Facebooks and the Googles of the world and Amazon, and GE just moved over [to Boston],” Yehiav says.
Not only is there a challenge to find talent, but Yehiav adds it’s important for the company to not grow too fast. Fast growth can lead to two things—customer attrition and a loss of culture. As such, his mentality is to “under-promise and over-deliver.” Word of mouth can contribute to the growth of the company, but it can also derail its momentum if Profitect doesn’t meet expectations.
On the culture front, Yehiav is proud of the fact that there is a work-life balance at the company. “At 5:00, 5:30, we’ll see people just leaving to go home and we’re very proud of that. If necessary, I know that when they get home and their kids go to sleep, they will bounce back on the computer and continue to work in order to make us successful.”
He credits a lot of the success of the company to his management team. Yehiav, who was born in Israel and like every kid growing up in that country served in the Israeli Defense Forces, says he’d go into battle with his management team. “I rely much more on the management today than ever before, and frankly, they are the one that making me look good.”
To this point, Yehiav’s first piece of advice for fellow CEOs and leaders is to find a management team that’s willing to give you real feedback. “My management know that sometimes I can be harsh in my feedback, but it’s all from within, from emotions, and it’s a build-up environment where they feel free to give me very harsh feedback sometimes.”
His second piece of advice is to build a company with customer satisfaction in mind. Sometimes, Yehiav notes, this might mean turning down money, whether it’s from venture capitalists or somewhere else. If it will impact how the CEO envisions the company will serve its customers, the money isn’t worth it.
Yehiav’s last piece of advice: hire the right person, even if they don’t have the right skills. “Skills are critical. I’m not saying that we’re hiring only for attitude and no skills, but if you have the right attitude, most of the time, skills in sales and other places, are more trainable.”