Adam Torres and Kevin M. Campbell discuss data management.
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Data management is crucial for enterprise businesses and small businesses alike. In this episode, Adam Torres and Kevin M. Campbell, Chief Executive Officer at Syniti, explore data management and the book Kevin will be launching with Mission Matters.
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Syniti enables agile enterprises with silo-free enterprise data management that helps turn complex data challenges into competitive advantages.
With a unified, learning platform and one of the world’s largest teams of data-focused experts, enterprises and global alliance partners choose Syniti when they require trusted data to ignite business growth and reduce risks.
Syniti is a portfolio company of BridgeGrowth Partners LLC. Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts with offices in 25 countries around the world, Syniti operates in all global regions and industry verticals, and maintains a 99.7% client success rate across thousands of complex data projects and initiatives.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres, and if you’d like to apply to be a guest in the show, just head on over to mission matters.com and click on Be Our Guest to Apply. All right, so today is a very special episode we brought on Kevin Campbell, who I’m happy and proud to announce is the newest member of our Mission Matters community, and also an author and one of our upcoming business leaders.
Books. Kevin is also the c e o as c e o over at Sanity. Kevin, welcome to the show Adam. Thanks for having me on. I’m looking forward to talking with you. All right, Kevin. So as, as my audience knows, there’s nothing more I liked than than talking about our authors and, and the work that they’re gonna bring to the table, and we’ll get into that a little bit today.
But what I’m more interested in today, and for everybody watching, don’t worry, we’re gonna bring Kevin on for a part two of two of this interview where we will actually go into Kevin’s writing and the. Book, but that’s after the book’s live. But for today, what I’m interested in is really getting into the work that you’re doing over at Acidity also talking about the benefits of improving data management for companies.
A lot of business owners, senior level executives that watch this program, and I know they’re gonna get a lot of value out here in which you bring to the table today. But we’ll start this episode, Kevin. The way that we start them all with our mission matters minute. So Kevin, we at Mission Matters, we amplify stories for entrepreneurs, executives and experts.
That’s our mission. Kevin, what mission matters to you? Well, you know, I’m a dad of seven. I’ve got a long history in tech and and I’ve done a lot of work in consulting over the year. But my missions in life are two things, right? One is to raise my kids and and try to guide them. And second to be, you know, a c e O at sanity to help grow the company to where we need it to do.
And we’re all about data, as you mentioned, quickly. Yeah. Fantastic. Love bringing mission-based individuals on the line to share, you know, why they do what they do, how they’re doing it, and really what we can, what we can learn from that so that we can all grow together. So first off, I love that you mentioned that you data seven, and I know that you were just doing some, some traveling and some other things with your son.
I mean, and you taught me a new term in, in the warmup and that was the work diet. So I, a little bit of a curve ball, Kevin, but what’s the work diet? It so the, you know, with the jobs that we have, yeah. You know, it’s hard to really shut off and be gone, right? Mm-hmm. So what we’ve, what IO was, as somebody said to me many years ago, he said, Kevin, I said, how was your vacation?
He said, Kevin, I don’t look at it as a, a vacation. I work at, look at it more as a work diet. So I always call it a work diet, which is a chance to get away, and I had a great week to do a lot of other things, but you gotta stay connected and do a few things while you’re while you’re away. So yeah, it was a great work diet.
I I love bringing new TURs to the audience. Well, let’s so you, you mentioned big background in tech for a long time, even prior to working, obviously A C E O over at Sanity. Maybe go into your background a little bit more and tell us how you got started. Yeah. So, you know, I studied computer programming in school and, and from the school of management and got attracted, you know, I was in the Boston area at that time when there were a lot of tech firms, most of which don’t exist anymore.
Mm-hmm. And I interviewed with all of them, but what I got attracted to was at the time was Arthur Anderson. And it was the consulting division of Arthur Anderson, which is now turned into Expen Accenture. I’ve had 25. Great. I had 25 great years there. And what I was attracted to was they had somebody come into our class and basically that person talked about what they did Right.
And how they were helping companies use it for competitive advantage. Mm-hmm. And that’s what got me interested. And so from there I went through the, you know, the normal. Programming, you know, project management, then selling work, managing larger projects, managing multiple projects and so on. Was fortunate to have a lot of great mentors along the way.
Mm-hmm. And was able to be promoted to port partner at a young age and had a lot of leadership positions in there. And from there, you know, I, I traveled in my last job, I, I ran all of delivery from Accenture, globally, about 150,000 people. But I got tired, right? And I needed a break.
So I took early retirement and that gave me a chance to do something different, and that’s what brought me to sanity eventually. Yeah. And so there’s you know, there’ll be a segment of of audience that watches this, that are kind of in that same boat. Like maybe they’re thinking about, you know, what’s the, what’s the next thing that they’re going to do?
And they could be, you know, senior level executives. And like you said, you had a great career, took early retirement and really had a great relationship with the company. And I love that you bring that up, by the way, because when somebody changes from one thing to another doesn’t necessarily mean that they were, you know, unhappy, it wasn’t a good fit, it’s just maybe they wanted to do something different.
So as as, you know, some of these other, you know, senior leg level executives kind of contemplate what’s next on the horizon for them, whether it’s, you know, a, a startup or working and taking, you know, the, or taking the c e o position or another position at another company. Like what kind of things were you thinking about at that time when you were kind of making your transition that could maybe help them?
I tell people all the time, you know, that I can’t tell you what will work for you. I can tell you what work for me, right? Mm-hmm. And what worked for me was doing something different and being open to other possibilities. And so the first thing I did is I went to work for the legendary investor, Ray Dalio.
Mm-hmm. It’s just a friend of a friend introduced me to him and he said, Hey, you know, come help me. And so I spent a couple years with him and got some very different perspectives and ideas on how to do things and learned a lot from him. I worked at a couple of startups with some friends that were launching something and then my long-term mentor, bill Green gave me a call and said, Hey, I got this interesting company that I just went as chairman of the board of, and I think you’d be interested in it.
And you know what, what got me? And I think this is what all of us have to think about, is. We do a lot of things in our career, but what really makes you tick? What do you love? And for me, what I love is growing things and building things, and whether it’s building the teams, building companies. And so when he asked me to take, I do anything for Bill that he asked me and he asked me to take a look at this company.
And the company was in data. And we’ll talk about why data is important. And why It’s, you know, it becomes, we always say we were in data before data was cool, right? Not data’s cool, but we were there before. It was cool and it was a chance to grow something. And, and Adam, that’s what got me excited. Yeah. And, and data is exciting.
And it’s funny that you say like, before it was cool because now that’s all you hear about. And I, and when it comes to data and, and, and privacy and a lot of other things now that, that’s become really mainstream, I. But I feel for many businesses and small businesses in general it still hasn’t always like, gotten through to like, you know, the decision makers to understand the power of harnessing their data, the part, the power of what unlocking that data can do for your business and for growth.
So maybe just. Give us a little bit of, to get us kicked off on this part of the interview. Give us a little bit of overview of kind of this evolution of data that you’ve seen cuz you’ve been working in the field for a long time, like you said before it was popular. Yeah, and, and I think, you know, I’ve learned a lot during that time.
I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with some great people and I’ve got a great board of directors and. You know, we used to be called Back Office Associates, so that this, this is, I tell this story because it gives you an evolution, right? Yeah. On my first meeting as c e o, one of the board members said to me, Hey, everybody hates the name right back Office Associates.
Why don’t you change it? So we spent time saying, but why You could change it. We changed the vicinity and like everything else, if you’re gonna pick, this was four years ago, if you’re gonna pick a new word, every word’s been taken. Yeah, so you kinda gotta make up a word. So synergy. Synergy is a made up word between synergy and infinity.
Yeah. The synergy between data and business gives you infinite potential. Hmm. And that in the core of that, right. That infinite potential of what can happen with data. Mm-hmm. It makes a huge difference and, and that’s kind of the mission that we’ve had since we rebranded the company. Mm-hmm. And and, and it really helped drive us forward.
And I like to say to people, and you heard me say before Adam, when we were talking every problem’s a data problem. Mm-hmm. Right? And and that’s the mindset shift, right? That I need executives or I urge executives to take. Mm-hmm. Because CEOs are understanding data’s important. Like I said, it’s topical and it’s sexy now.
Mm-hmm. But, Then how do I make a difference? Mm-hmm. Right? In what’s important and, and what’s there. So every problem you have is a data problem. I’ve got an inventory problem. If I’ve got a work in process, I’ve got a financial problem. All of them are caused by data and that’s really, really important thing.
So h help me understand, so how is how does data and, and really using data effectively, like how can that help drive business results for, for businesses? Well, I, the, the thing I’d point to. Right now, and we can talk to a lot of examples, but we did a survey just recently with horses for sources, which is an hfs an analyst firm.
And they, they looked at 300 executives and they said to them, you know, and these were looking at large companies, right? You know, companies that were in the global 2000, and they were saying if you had two, twice as good a data quality as you have today. What would that mean for your business? Right? Hmm.
60% would say it would have, it would have significant improvements in their customer experience. Mm-hmm. Right. Over 75% of them said they would be more competitive. Right. And over 90% of them said that. You know, it would make a better experience for their people in addition to their customers. Hmm. So the reality is little improvements in data quality, which are, you know, hard to do, can make a big difference in your business results.
Yeah. Is this a issue or something that it only applies to large enterprise businesses like you, you know, like you just described? Or like, can the small business owner also benefit from this? Everybody can benefit from it. Yeah. You know, like, I like to tell my team if the, the data you’re presenting or the data we’re talking about.
Mm-hmm. If it’s right, well then we got some problems. We’ve got customer problems, we’ve got other problems to work at, and if the data’s wrong mm-hmm. We got even bigger problems. Yeah. So deciding what’s the data you’re gonna use to drive the business? And what’s most important, and then making sure you’re getting that right and it’s properly governed is so critical.
And no matter what size business you are, it’s there. Right? Yeah. So if somebody’s watching this, and if they’re, and I, by the way, I know there’s no one size fits all, obviously. So one piece of advice does not apply to every business that’s out there, everybody that might listen to this. But I do like to give, you know, our audience, like something a a, a starting point.
Like if they’re listening to this and they’re thinking, you know, I have a feeling we have a data problem, but I don’t even know, you know, Kind of what that problem is. And you know, I, I heard Kevin talk about how if we improve that there could, you know, could drive some business results, but like, I don’t, I don’t really know where to start.
And especially for some of those, you know, small or maybe middle market businesses that don’t have certain layers to, to work on that. Like what, where do they start? Like where does somebody say, okay, I know we’re not even looking at this. We should be like, where does someone typically start when they start thinking about like, getting better with their data?
What I, what I tell people to focus on is just think about simply what are, what are the results you look at that make a difference to your business, right? Mm-hmm. So is it what sales you have? Yeah. Is it, what’s the pipeline that you have of new opportunities? What’s the, you know, Supply chain you’re working at and what, what’s the, you know, kind of length that’s taking to deliver things in the supply chain?
What’s your outstanding, you know, receivables and payables? Pick six, eight critical factors in your business. Mm-hmm. And say, Okay. Those are the things I’m gonna focus on, right? Mm-hmm. How good are those? If I do, I have a dashboard every morning that shows me that, that data and where I stand, so if I’m the CEO or anybody other senior level executive in a company, can I see where I stand every morning on those items?
Mm-hmm. If it’s not, why not? Right? And as the ceo E, you’ve gotta set those objectives and then you’ve gotta drive to get in the right quality. And basic those fundamentals. And today, Adam, there’s so much data perforating everybody at place and we see so much stuff. I think people don’t sort through right, to what’s important.
So that’s my way that I tell ’em there are other ways, but that’s my way of telling them to focus on what matters, right? Yeah. What drives the results of your business? What are the six to 10 metrics that drive the results? And then let’s start there and make sure that they work, and then let’s figure out how we can make those better.
Mm-hmm. I know you mentioned start with the six to eight, right? Right. Like get those down. But it seems to me also like this is kind of like a, a never ending process because also the, like your business is going to evolve and maybe some things change over time or maybe even the way that you’re able to harness the, the data with technology changes over time.
So does that kind of like unlocking the data in your business, does that kind of evolve over time as well? Yeah. And I, and I think you gotta, you know, the only constant in the world has changed, right? So you gotta continue to evolve. And I always say, if you’ve gotten better at the, mm-hmm the six to 10 and, and you’ve got the processes to maintain that in place, well then what are the next six to 10 things that you wanna improve, right?
And pick at those, and you’ve gotta evolve over time. And there are new ways to do it. And it, for me, I always, you know, I read a ton. Yeah. But I also wanna be intensely curious about what’s working and what’s not. Mm-hmm. And then I get other people. You know, whether I’m talking with friends or anybody else to try to get their views about what’s happening.
Hmm. So you’ve, you’ve been in the business a long time. Obviously you’ve worked with a ton of companies both as CEOs and when you were, you know, boots on the ground earlier in your career. What excites you relating to data right now? Like whether it’s technology or trends or just in general, like what excites you at the moment?
I think, and, and you know, it, I, I tie that to. You know, after I’d been c e o for two years, I was, I did an interview where somebody asked me what surprised you the most? Yeah. And what surprised me the most was how little people understood the implications of data quality. Mm-hmm. And while even some people talk about it, they don’t understand it and internalize it.
And part of that’s cuz it’s hard, right? Yeah. It’s hard to be able to do that. So. The thing that gets me most excited is what’s the potential for improving data quality. Mm-hmm. And when I look at it, it then permeates everything you do. Mm-hmm. If I wanna do m and a, I wanna buy a comp, another company, I wanna sell something, I have a division or something like that, I wanna move to the cloud.
Any activities that I wanna do, Basically data’s at the core of that. And I’ve gotta think about it from a data-centric perspective. Once I get that data quality and data-centric view, it changes everything. Yeah. So I wanna, I wanna take a moment here and actually go a little bit further into what you do at Serenity.
So, I know we talked about it a little bit, but I wanna go just a little bit further. Maybe tell us you know, e exactly what Sereni does and maybe some of the types of companies, whether it’s industries or otherwise, that, you know, get the most value out of working with your team. Yeah, so again, we focus.
Our concepts apply everywhere, but we focus on the hardest data problems for the world’s biggest companies. Yeah. That’s where we really differentiate ourselves, and when we talk about data, we really say there’s three areas that we’re really keenly focused on. Lots of other areas we get into and do work, but if I said, what’s our flywheel?
Right? Yeah. What keeps us going? It’s data migration supported by high quality data, both. In and out from that. Mm-hmm. And then the last thing is data governance. Mm-hmm. Right? Which is how do I make sure on an ongoing basis I get clean and then I stay clean with the data that I have. And that’s like building the foundation for the house.
Yeah. So migration. Migration is, I’m moving from one set of systems to another. I’m buying a company that I want to integrate. Yeah, I’m moving to the cloud, which people are talking about, or let’s talk about our favorite hot trend right now. Ai, everybody wants to talk about AI and what Yeah. All the AI stuff.
It, you know, I’ve got a friend who took over as, as chairman of a small AI company. Mm-hmm. And he said to me after he’d been there three months, he said, Kevin, it’s all about the data. Yeah. If I got crappy data, I’m gonna get crappy ai. Right. So, You know, again, data permeates everything and it’s the quality of what you get.
So what do we help people do at Sanity? We help people move data. We help ’em improve the data quality that they have. Mm-hmm. We help ’em figure out how to govern the data and, and those results for governing the data make a huge difference. Yeah. Right. In people. So we’ve got one of our clients that doubled the time with the same number of people.
They’re doing it twice as fast, introducing new product. Wow. With the same number of people. Right. To be able to do that, we’ve got other people, you know, who’ve been able to integrate and move to new platforms, which are improving how fast they can respond to their customers. Mm-hmm. Right. By significant numbers and it’s all done by the software that runs it.
Mm-hmm. But making sure that you have good data, cuz we always say, you know, Putting in new software and still having the same old bad data is like putting bad fuel in a new car. Mm-hmm. Right. So I might buy the fanciest car out there that runs as fast as, as anything, whether it be a Porsche or a Jetta, or a Audi or a bmw.
Mm-hmm. I put watery gas in it, it’s still not gonna run very well. Yeah. And data’s like the fuel of companies today. Hmm. Well said. And and just thinking about that example you gave about being able to launch a product essentially, you know, twice as fast with the same amount of people. Like, so when you talk about like what data and having clean data can, can do I mean that’s, would that team of ever thought that was possible prior to this?
Like, I’m gonna guess No. Like, that’s a big number, right? That’s a big amount of fee. Yes. They basically, people are limited by what they have seen and experienced. Mm-hmm. Versus what’s possible. I have another client at a major retailer who said, Kevin, I never knew that we could have good data at conversion time when we go live.
Yeah. Until I met sanity. I always thought data with bad data was the long pole in the tent and the thing that we were gonna struggle with for a year after we put any new system in. Until I met sanity, where I got a chance to see that it was different, that there was a different way to do it. That the difference between 95% quality on data and 99% quality is like the difference between, you know, being a hundred miles away and being right on top of the goal and what you want to do, man.
It’s great. Well, Kevin I wanna spend just a, a little bit of time here today talking about the, the upcoming book as well. So we’re not gonna go, as I told the audience earlier, we’re not gonna go too far into it because we’re still in editing, we’re still in production. So this could change a little bit, but keeping it really high level, Kevin, maybe what are some of the ideas that you hope to to present in the upcoming book?
Well, what I, I did, you know, I had always joked for my career. That that I was gonna write, my memoirs at the end were stuff you can’t make up. Right? Yeah. And and, and you know, Erin Gros, who does my communications and PR for me right now, it was amazing, by the way. Hello, Erin. Go ahead. Sorry. Had to She’s awesome.
Thanks for that. Shout out. Yes, she’s done. Tori, terrific. She, she convinced me that there was, You know, cuz I use a lot of analogies to raising kids and what I’ve learned over the year. Yeah. And she said, you know what, raising seven kids taught me about prioritization and life as a c e O. And so that, that’s really what my, I try to take the five lessons learned from raising kids and being a, a CEO and an executive for 30 years and really tried to summarize those and talk about.
You know what they mean and what advice I’d give for other people. And again, I don’t give advice cuz I expect that it’s perfect for everybody. What I talk about is what works for me and what I’ve learned the hard way about prioritization, balance, picking people, things like that. Fantastic. And I, I’m gonna cut you off there because I got a whole lot of questions I wanna ask, but I’m gonna wait till the next interview for that one.
But I do have to ask, I mean, first off, it’s been great having you on the show, learning more about the idea of data management, clean data specifically, and what that can do for your business. Obviously we learned a lot about what you do at Sanity and your career, but I just have to ask, I mean, what’s next?
What’s next for you? What’s next for sanity? Adam, thanks for having me on. I, I, I really appreciate it. I think, you know, the phrase I use all the time internally and, and it’s my outlook on all this stuff is the best is yet to come. Mm-hmm. Right. And I think that’s true for our clients that we’re working with.
It’s true for us at sanity, which we’re continuing. We’re in an amazingly robust market. Even with the headwinds in the market today, the market for data is huge, and the value of good quality data has never been well governed, never been data. Just think about the fact that most people say they, you know, they have the data they need, but they don’t trust it.
Just think about that. Yeah. So one thing is having it, and the next thing is trust in it, and how do you trust it? It’s gotta be good quality. You gotta know the source, you gotta govern it. So what’s next for us? Mm-hmm. The best is yet to come. Yeah. Fantastic. If some, if somebody’s watching this Kevin and they wanna learn more about sanity or to follow the journey what’s the best way for them to do that?
Well, c.com or you can look me up on LinkedIn or any of the rest of the sanity team. We’re very active on on LinkedIn, very active on social media, Twitter and the rest. And and certainly we have a very strong website that you can look at, and we’ve got people that are out and about talking to customers all the time.
Yeah. And and speaking of the website, so we’ll put all of the, the, you know, that, we’ll put that in the show notes, the, the links so that our audience can just click on the links and head right on over. And speaking of the audience, if this is your first time with Mission Matters or engaging in an episode of our platform, we’re all about bringing on business owners, entrepreneurs, executives, and experts, and having them share their mission, the reason behind their mission, really what motivates.
Them to get out there into the marketplace and into the world and to make a difference. If that’s the type of content that sounds interesting or fun or exciting to you, we welcome you Hit that subscribe button because we have many more mission-based individuals coming up on the line, and we don’t want you to miss a thing.
And Kevin, really, it has been a pleasure. Can’t wait till the next time we get to do this. All right, thanks, Adam.