I sat down with Craig Harris and Elizabeth Cholawsky of HG Data last month. Elizabeth had joined HG Data as their new CEO eight days earlier with Craig shifting from CEO to R&D Leader and Chairman. We discussed the transition, partner management, product planning, and the entry into other information verticals. The interview has been edited for length and will be published over the next few days. [Part 1]
Michael: Craig, let’s talk about your new role and the future of HG Data.
Craig: Over time we’ve ingested and continue to ingest billions of company documents. These documents don’t just cover IT or technographics. They span every geography, every vertical, every category. Technographics is really just scratching at the surface. There are so many more insights within our corpus, and we’ve already built the tools and have the machinery to extract them. That’s where I want to spend my time. That’s where I want to focus.
That means a couple of things. It means going much deeper in this phase that we’re already in. Going beyond just company X is using product Y. There’s so much more context and insight and actionability that we can mine around the technographics that we are already selling to the market. There are other opportunities beyond technographics and we’re already monetizing that in the digital display part of our business, which is growing really fast.
I think this is just a perfect partnership between Elizabeth and myself. I get to go back to what I love the most which is the R&D. We’ve got a real pro here at home that can help us scale to the next revenue milestones and beyond.
Michael: The other industry that you’ve entered is healthcare. You partnered with `.
Craig: Yes, that was a couple of years ago. Our thesis is, we’ve got this massive corpus of information, can we extract information beyond technographics? Doing our deep dive into healthcare, of course, we started with the specialized software and hardware products that are used within healthcare organizations.
Quickly from there it became looking at equipment that you used in the operating room or how many beds are at certain healthcare facilities. That was very much a successful test of our ability to move into other verticals. That quickly became a very meaningful business for us. We’ve already proven that we can replicate what we’ve done in the technographic space.
More importantly, beyond technographics, there’s so much opportunity in the space that we’re currently in. We launched our HG Data for Salesforce product in November, so this is really one of our first forays into going and putting more of an experience around the data. This is an area where having someone with Elizabeth’s experience just puts us in a great position to explore those avenues.
Michael: Lightning Data is just an application – Account data maintenance within the AppExchange. It’s a small subset of the broader scope of applications in the AppExchange.
Elizabeth: Right. Yes. We’re working closely with them and talking about co-marketing opportunities to get a little more visibility around the Lightning Data app.
Michael: You have some other products you also launched around marketing analytics last year?
Craig: Well, so we’ve got the HG Data Platform. I wouldn’t really call it a product but an introductory way to discover the different data sets that we have available. It also has light analytics in terms of growth of those products by geography and other types of firmographics.
But really the main product launched is HG Data for Salesforce. That’s our premium offering inside Salesforce. We also have a demo version called HG Data for Salesforce Lite. We just launched that.
HG Data Focus [Chrome extension] is a tool used by thousands of sales reps and BDRs and marketing folks. That’s been a wonderful way to experience our data.
The other product launch was HG Data Audience. It’s our digital display advertising offering where we’ve worked with third-parties to get our data put into the systems or the workflows for building both syndicated audiences as well as custom audiences.
That product is growing really fast. It’s branded and available inside of Oracle Data Cloud, LiveRamp Data Store, DoubleClick Bid Manager and many others
Michael: Craig, going out five years, where do you see the company on the product side?
Craig: With technographics, if you look at some of the partners that we have within the HG ecosystem, we’ve identified at least a couple dozen different use cases and applications for our data. That’s just looking at the sales and marketing ecosystem. The enormity of what could be powered by HG, if we choose to build that ourselves for end users inside of their workflows, is exciting. Or, we may decide in certain scenarios that there are other companies that are just so good at that particular delivery of service to customers that we are more impactful powering that application It just makes a lot more sense to leverage partners in certain circumstances.
What I see happening over the next two to five years starts with technographics. We are going to choose some of those areas of application and we are going to build and power really wonderful experiences with our data directly for end users. And with many other applications for sales and marketing, if not the majority of other applications, we are going to continue working very closely with the wonderful partners that we have been working with for so many years. Over the two to five-year time-frame, I believe that we have the opportunity to go and replicate that same experience in a multitude of other vertical markets.
That’s where I’ll be spending a lot of my time just exploring which other verticals and markets we can go into and build unique data sets. Currently, I believe that we deliver the holy grail of data within the software and hardware space. Part of the holy grail of data is technographics. As we evaluate moves beyond healthcare and we move into manufacturing or transportation or any number of verticals, the definition of the holy grail of data becomes very different. That’s where I’m going to be spending the better part of the next several years working as Elizabeth helps provide some guidance. We are going to be very deliberate with the next markets that we choose to move into.
Michael: What sort of time-frame do you see yourself entering these additional verticals?
Craig: Right now, I think the focus and the priority is optimizing the areas that we are already in, so there’s a lot more work to do in technographics and healthcare before we start jumping in those multiple other verticals.
My vision for HG Data five years from now is that HG Data has become the de facto leader in the technographic space – not just building the data and surfacing the data, but in putting it to work for our customers. At the end of the day our customers don’t care about technographics. They care about knowing who their next customer is going to be or how they are going to retain and grow their existing customers. Five years from now I hope that HG Data will be informing this in the IT vertical as well as four or five other vertical markets.
Part III covers partnership strategy and company performance metrics.
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