Q&A with insightsoftware.com software developer Stephan Hoffmann, and Chief Product Officer Craig Strong
We at Hubble by insightsoftware.com are thrilled to celebrate our latest patent issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Patent US 9,846,725 B2, or as we affectionately call it, SQL Double Counting Resolver, is the crux of the Hubble business performance management platform and our competitive advantage for financial professionals across industries around the globe. Hubble Reporting, Analytics and Planning solutions are designed to help businesses easily access real-time data from their Oracle, SAP or JD Edwards ERP to make better decisions, plan for the unexpected, capitalize on opportunities and resolve problems quickly.
To give you even more insight on this great accomplishment, we took some time to have an in-depth dialogue the brains behind the development and are sharing it with you right in this very piece. Read on.
Stephan Hoffmann: Patent Recipient, inventor, and 20-year insightsoftware.com developer veteran
Craig Strong: Hubble by insightsoftware.com Chief Product Officer
So what exactly is SQL Double Counting Resolver (DCR)?
Stephan Hoffmann: Simply put, DCR is a technology that lets users focus on what they want to know from their database, versus how to best get that information. ERPs are notoriously difficult to use, and DCR puts incredible power directly into the hands of finance professionals and other business leaders who need accurate, real-time information immediately.
Why is getting accurate information so difficult?
SH: There is a common problem with respect to database queries. When a user creates a database query, information is often pulled from multiple, complex tables. Our technology eliminates this problem by automatically rewriting a query before it even pulls information from the database. For Hubble customers, many of whom are reporting business results, unreliable data would wreak havoc from both a financial and legal standpoint. With DCR technology, Hubble customers do not have to worry about this “double counting” phenomenon and can focus solely on quickly getting the data they need.
Can you elaborate on how this development would be used in an organization or specific business unit?
So, the issue is not with the same information in multiple tables – it’s the same information from one table which is duplicated by the join operation. Any business unit handling the processing of invoices and payments would benefit directly with this technology.
Do other vendors offer something similar to fix this problem of double counting?
SH: We found ways where users could manually fix double counting after data was generated, or modify or “break up” table queries – but all the options required multiple steps and a lot of human manipulation. The bottom line is that we didn’t see a way that was completely seamless to the end user, or one that wasn’t vulnerable to human error.
What was the development process for this technology?
SH: Our internal developer team couldn’t find a solution for double counting that existed – we would have adopted one from the get-go if we had! We knew that we wanted our Designer Express technology to allow customers to easily build their own templates. But double counting had to be resolved, or else custom templates would be useless to our clients. And initially, to be honest, the developer team wasn’t sure we could engineer a solution for this thorny problem. But I disagreed. I can’t tell you why (I had no proof at the time!) but I just knew it could be done. And sure enough, there was a better way to approach the problem. We created a SQL algorithm that hides all the immense complexity of a database query from the customer. Customers can simply focus on the company data they want, and not worry about data consolidation or duplication. It’s effortless.
What is your favorite thing about working at insightsoftware.com?
SH: I work with a great team of people. I love that the process arc from idea to execution is so short and frictionless – we are all on the same wavelength and understand each other. It’s a great feeling to help our customers and as a developer, I’m over the moon to have a patent!
As CTO of insightsoftware.com, what are your thoughts on the new patent? How has the team evolved under your leadership?
Craig Strong: I’ve been overseeing the product pipeline over the last year and 8 months, and it has been a really exciting time. We have several patents in the pipeline, but we are especially thrilled with DCR, because it is such an important and distinct component of our Hubble solution. I’m also excited about how we’ve reorganized our teams and strategy to align with an enterprise application suite offering and moved aggressively toward new markets with new specialties and new ways of working. We’ve acquired a new product line (DecisionPoint) and we are bringing new innovations and teams together.
How do innovation achievements such as this patent play in the overall product development strategy?
CS: We are a technology company, and therefore inherently in a space of innovation. But patents specifically signal what unique and distinct capabilities you can bring to your customers ahead of the competition. We aren’t just another similar product competing in the marketplace. A patent underscores a unique software development in our solution that no one else has. Also, our teams are excited to place their “stamp” on the world – a patent is a long-term recognition. We celebrate Stephan’s invention and think it sends a signal that culturally, insightsoftware.com embraces and recognizes employee contributions and solving problems.
Are there incentive strategies at insightsoftware.com to encourage creativity?
CS: We have worked really hard to make sure that good ideas don’t get lost. People are busy and people are often modest. To surface great ideas and prevent them from slipping through the cracks, we have a streamlined process where anyone (developer or not) can get quick feedback on whether a concept or idea is unique and worth pursuing. It’s a series of lightweight steps, not overly bureaucratic, which serves as an efficient way to move great ideas along. Culturally, it is also important to have networking opportunities, such as hubs and meetups within the organization, where great ideas have a chance to spark. We have a company where there are many personal connections – we aren’t just coding at our desks! We try to cross functions and teams and even locations as much as possible to maximize innovation and collaboration. And finally, we of course love to celebrate milestones. Patents are particularly incredible achievements, but that’s not the only time we recognize great work.
How do you engage customers with new innovations and capabilities that you develop?
CS: We have multiple touchpoints with our customers and have internal releases where we can get direct feedback from our clients. Again, we try to keep the process lightweight so our customers can provide feedback without feeling over-extended, but we value their contributions because they can help shed light on how to make their jobs easier. Hubble is laser-focused on customer satisfaction and the customer experience – they are our core values. And our DCR technology and patent is a great example of a capability that helps our customers do their job faster, more accurately and with higher confidence.
Want to know more about what makes Hubble different? Watch the video below.