TimeXtender’s mission is to help companies to extract the maximum-possible advantage from their data resources in the minimum-possible time. Automation is the key, and their Discovery Hub data management platform is the prime tool. CEO and founder Heine Krog Iversen tells us more.
Good day and thank you so much for the opportunity to have this interview with you, Mr. Krog Iversen! In today’s fast-paced business environment, what do successful leaders such as yourself have at the front of their minds each and every day?
My professional mission is to empower every person in every organisation with instant access to any type of data, at any time from any location, enabling them to achieve greater business success by making strategic business decisions for their company. Data is one of the most valuable currencies a company possesses, but only when appropriate stakeholders have access to it as needed and only if it’s truly accurate.
With that in mind, let us understand that business decisions cannot be made by data alone. While data provides historical context and great insight, it should be combined with other factors, such as strategy, experience, industry trends, environmental factors, and ‘hunch’. We call this making decisions with ‘data, mind and heart’. When you consider all of these factors combined, organisations can then, and only then, make superior business decisions to improve their company, competitiveness and, ultimately, their bottom line.
TimeXtender was founded in 2006 as a start-up company, and it has already been recognised as one of the fastest-growing companies in the world. Can you share with us your vision and the story of how TimeXtender started?
This is indeed true – TimeXtender has been recognised as one of the fastest-growing private software companies in the world in various industry reports. Before launching TimeXtender, I co-founded another IT consultancy that provided business process optimisation, workflow, ERP systems, and business intelligence services. At that time, while helping companies implement business intelligence capabilities on top of their existing ERP systems, I realised that manual coding was being done for all projects. However, manual coding was very time-consuming and expensive and I came to realise that there was a better way, by leveraging the power of automation. This led us to start TimeXtender.
At first, we partnered with various ERP consultancies, but these alliances were not suitable for the direction we were headed with automation. Given this, we shifted to alliances with companies such as Microsoft, Qlik, and Tableau, as they all aligned better with our strategies and with what our customers were looking for from us. These alliances strengthened our mission and enabled us to better provide companies with all the benefits derived from automation.
TimeXtender enables businesses to make quality decisions faster with TimeXtender’s Discovery Hub. Could you tell us more about Discovery Hub and why it’s important to have a good data management platform?
Businesses need to make sure that they have a modern data estate that integrates and consolidates all of their data into a centralised, integrated and single hub to ensure that the company is relying on ‘one version of the truth’. To do so, it’s important to take advantage of modern technology and we believe the answer is Discovery Hub. Traditionally, companies have relied on manual coding, which consists of multiple repetitive tasks. And they’ve often relied on a team of consultants to help them build their data platforms. These efforts are very time-consuming and expensive.
This is where the power of automation comes into play. Customers typically experience 70% reduction in build costs and 80% reduction in maintenance costs by using Discovery Hub. They are able to accelerate their time to data insights by up to 10 times. They can significantly reduce costs by eliminating maintenance fees that they are paying to use a variety of data management tools. And, they can free up IT resources to work on more strategic and more valuable projects.
By using Discovery Hub, businesses can save significant time and energy throughout their entire organisation, allowing them to dedicate their workforce to greater innovation, more purposeful growth and game-changing breakthroughs. And even more, Discovery Hub is built with a cloud-first mindset, so companies can take advantage of all the benefits that come with a cloud deployment on Microsoft Azure. And of course, having analytics data residing in the cloud has many benefits, such as lower hardware and software costs, fewer maintenance needs, and access from any location, among other benefits.
TimeXtender inspires quality business decisions with data, mind and heart. As an expert on data management, can you tell us how data empowers decision making?
The use of data is crucial in helping a company succeed on a daily basis, but also over the short and long terms. Business users face several questions during their day that require instant decision making. Having the calculated use of data readily available helps them to make better and more strategic decisions.
Historically, in the past, users wanting to have access granted to corporate data would have to put in a job request with IT and then wait for the ticket to be answered. This process can sometimes take days and is a drain on IT resources. Who has time for that? By the time a ticket request can be fulfilled, users will often have moved on to other tasks. TimeXtender solves this problem with Discovery Hub, as we help organisations build, deploy and manage a future-proof, modern data estate that transforms an organisation into a data-driven enterprise to provide instant access to data in a secured environment.
It’s absolutely essential to have instant access to data. Data helps people make decisions on the spot across all functional departments. HR uses data to help with its recruiting efforts. Finance analyses data to improve margins. Operations relies on data to manage inventory and logistics. Data is everywhere and is needed throughout all areas of a business.
Today, we see data being used to help build and leverage predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and IoT functionality, just to name a few initiatives. Data scientists also use data to conduct research and help the business solve complex problems or identify trends on the horizon, so that a company can try to stay ahead of the curve.
As an award-winning provider of a data management platform to build a modern data estate, and one of the world’s largest, what sets you apart from your competitors and how do you strategise to remain ahead of the competition?
We stand out from the competition in so many ways. First, as mentioned, we have more than 3,000 customers worldwide and a global partner network of more than 170 business alliances. That’s a lot of experience and knowledgeable resources in the field. We’ve also been helping businesses achieve greater success from their data since 2006.
We are exclusively focused on the Microsoft data ecosystem. TimeXtender’s Discovery Hub is compatible with Microsoft technologies. We support data deployments on Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Database Managed Instance, Azure Data Lake, Azure Analysis Services, and SQL Server. We also support Azure Synapse Analytics and SQL Server 2019.
TimeXtender is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Microsoft Azure Certified, and Discovery Hub is available in the Azure Marketplace. Discovery Hub was built with a cloud-first mindset, but it’s also available on-premises or hybrid. We support changing deployment models without changing data models, as our technology is built to evolve with future technology advancements and new Microsoft Azure offerings.
In addition, Discovery Hub is compatible with any type of front-end visualisation and analytics tool that a business would like to use. We have long-term, existing relationships in place for Power BI, Qlik, and Tableau.
The bottom line is this: any business from Fortune 500 to mid-sized looking to become data-driven should consider a data management platform to build or re-engineer their data architecture to take advantage of all the business benefits inherent within a modern data estate. To do so, we recommend TimeXtender’s Discovery Hub.
You have a comprehensive partner programme in place, and have partnered with numerous companies around the world to help service customers. As a recognised and trusted solution provider, can you share with us feedback from customers about how TimeXtender has helped them become more competitive and productive?
We have a myriad of customer success stories to share and many of these are published on our website at TimeXtender.com. We’ve helped companies from all parts of the world, from mid-sized to Fortune 500, and from various industries, to improve their quest to become a modern, data-driven organisation. One interesting success story I will share is about Komatsu Australia.
Komatsu Australia, a fast-moving organisation and early cloud adopter with multiple data sources, needed a system to receive instant access to data for real-time visibility into its operations.
With data from three business-critical systems identified as “must have”, and with the possibility of adding other internal and external data sources, Komatsu needed a future-proof data estate that could support growth from a data source and complexity perspective. It also desired that this solution would have the quickest time-to-value for the business. After an evaluation period, TimeXtender’s Discovery Hub was chosen for its powerful data management capabilities, ease of use, Microsoft-aligned cloud strategy and powerful Dynamics AX adapter.
Implementing Discovery Hub has had many benefits for them, one of which was clearly illustrated when the organisation decided to move from Azure SQL DB in an Elastic Pool to Azure SQL DB Managed Instance, due to data size and granular environment management constraints.
Using Discovery Hub’s native capabilities to deploy to any supported Azure Data Service, the UAT environment was successfully migrated to SQL DB MI in just two days, forming the successful test case based on the full production environment which was migrated. All of this was achieved in less than two weeks, while still complying with all required change control and governance procedures.
While the ability to seamlessly migrate to the most suitable Azure Data Service is a major technical benefit, the biggest business benefit was that Discovery Hub has empowered Komatsu’s decision makers and enabled instant access to data for real-time visibility into operations. This has significantly improved access to their data and resulted in more-informed decision making.
With the information data estate successfully laid down, Komatsu is now set to take further advantage of Azure with AI and machine learning, which are on the horizon, to help improve understanding and decision making of complex data points.
Innovations continue to emerge in the data and digital industry and we are excited about what’s to come from TimeXtender. Will you tell us how you build a future-proof modern data management solution to keep up with changing times?
TimeXtender’s Discovery Hub is a next-generation data management platform, simplifying and automating the implementation and operation of the entire analytics data infrastructure. With Discovery Hub, business users get access to data for actionable insights, and can help simplify their compliance journey to make better decisions in less time. Using Discovery Hub, business users, BI and IT developers can collaborate on an agile, fully integrated information platform that supports iterative workflows to quickly create reports and dashboards.
To stay up with changing times, our company is absolutely devoted to developing ongoing technology advancements to Discovery Hub for the Microsoft community, and has a constant eye on emerging trends to deliver future-proof solutions for our customers by working closely with Microsoft. TimeXtender leads the way in ongoing development to Discovery Hub to ensure that we maintain our market leadership as new advancements are made by the data community within Microsoft. TimeXtender has a flexible way of thinking to maintain its roots of being a fast-moving, innovative start-up and our culture is designed with modernisation and innovation in mind.
As an example of our steadfast commitment to being ready for changing times, Microsoft recently announced Azure Synapse Analytics and SQL Server 2019. Our technical staff made development advancements to Discovery Hub to ensure that it was compatible with Azure Synapse Analytics and SQL Server 2019, once they were ready for general availability.
Over the years, you have earned the trust of 3,000 customers in a range of industries across the world and secured a 99% satisfaction rating. What are your priorities when it comes to communication with your customers?
First off, you’re right, we have more than 3,000 customers around the world and have a very high satisfaction rating with them. We take great pride in this accomplishment and work hard to be a customer-centric organisation. To do so, we host regular training programmes and user group sessions. We also participate in various Microsoft events that customers and partners attend. We have our global partner network with business alliances rooted in local regions around the world working closely with TimeXtender customers to implement Discovery Hub and to answer any questions that customers might have.
We also have a dedicated and comprehensive resource on our website that is loaded with information for partners and customers. This section has information for those just getting started with Discovery Hub and for those looking for more advanced assistance. It includes a user guide, knowledge-based documentation, online training material, various download documents, and an “ask the community” function. Most of this material is on our website and comes in the form of on-demand webinars, training material, white papers, blogs, articles, videos and guides.
Customers can also reach out to support or visit the support portal, offer suggestions, find release notes and join the Discovery Hub network. Our website also hosts numerous reports about TimeXtender and Discovery Hub that were written by industry analysts and a myriad of press coverage written about us over the years.
The goal is to provide open communication and to deliver helpful information, strategies, tips, troubleshooting considerations, and features and benefits about Discovery Hub. We dedicate a lot of resources to communication, support and writing material for partners and customers.
We also have a very comprehensive social media programme across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other outlets. These social channels allow us to share news and information and to interact with, and hear from, customers given their social media preference.
Aside from the latest technologies and innovations, customers also value the protection and privacy of their data. How does TimeXtender leverage the latest technologies to provide secured data solutions?
One way that companies get into trouble is by having data spread across disparate systems and platforms. This makes it very hard to manage and control. With Discovery Hub, organisations integrate and consolidate their data into a central repository, so that all their data is stored into one single and agile platform for the company to manage and utilise. This is very important. Also, Discovery Hub helps support a company’s efforts to meet compliance and regulatory requirements, such as GDPR, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, or Basel II.
With Discovery Hub, you can automatically document what data you hold and where you hold it. You can use Discovery Hub’s data lineage and impact analysis features to determine more about your data. Our technology platform also allows you to easily manage and maintain data access rights, which are comprehensively outlined in the automated documentation. Users can use it to identify and catalogue sensitive data and retain full documentation and anonymise personally identifiable information (PII), while transforming data into actionable insights. Finally, whether in test, development or production, data is fully documented. Organisations will have full version control and full security and traceability when using Discovery Hub.
As an expert in enhancing decision making, what do you think are some indications that business leaders are making bad decisions? Can you share some tips on how we can avoid habits that could possibly lead us along the wrong path?
TimeXtender inspires quality business decisions with data, mind and heart. The key is all three together: data, mind and heart. We help companies and their business users get instant access to any type of data for anyone, at any time, from anywhere, so that organisations can appreciate all the benefits that come from having a data-driven enterprise. We help organisations do this for one simple reason: because time matters.
But here’s the thing. We all respect data. Within a company’s data lies intelligence and knowledge that can help determine new buying patterns and emerging trends, and provide answers to business problems. But data, in and of itself, is not always the answer. Sometimes we have information about business, industry or external factors that goes above and beyond the data that the company possesses. This knowledge is crucial in helping us to formulate better decisions. In addition, we also have instinctual data that comes from years of experience. Instincts, intuition and judgement are all crucial elements in helping us to make great decisions. Don’t get me wrong, data is vital to the success of any company, but where organisations can get in trouble is exclusively using data without taking into account personal experience, wisdom and judgement.
TimeXtender sponsors the Danish motorsport driver Mikkel O. Pedersen in his Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup journey. Can you tell us more about this partnership?
We enjoy supporting community initiatives and charitable efforts. While there are many instances where time is king, there’s no domain more focused on time than motorsports. It’s for this reason that we sponsor the Danish motorsport driver Mikkel O. Pedersen.
TimeXtender is delighted to support this young talent in living his heartfelt purpose in life in the motorsport world, where time really matters. For TimeXtender, Mikkel is not only a sponsorship, but a symbol of our company’s brand and the way we view our partnerships, technology and DNA.
In addition, Mikkel designed a superhero troll to lend support to the Danish Cancer Foundation. These superhero trolls were a childhood favourite of his, and designing a modern troll truly came from his heart. A proportion of the proceeds resulting from the purchase of his troll have been contributed to the Foundation. This is a great cause and serves as a pleasant reminder that we can all be a superhero to someone in need. We’re proud to play a role in this effort.
On lighter note, working in the fast-changing IT industry must be very exhausting sometimes. What are the top activities that you like doing during your day off from work to recharge? And how do you look after your employees’ well-being and make sure that they maintain a healthy work-life balance?
We recently relocated from our home in Denmark to Washington. The state of Washington is a very beautiful location and we’re enjoying the scenery and getting out and visiting local areas and sites. In addition, global expansion is a major undertaking and requires a lot of focus, but during my travels to meet with partners and customers, I try to find time to get out and see new parts of the world. Oftentimes, these adventures are with my family and that makes for a wonderful addition to any business trip.
Regarding our employees, well, we have taken great strides at TimeXtender to build a culture that thrives on work-life balance. Anne Krog Iversen, our Chief People, DNA and Culture Officer, has done a tremendous job of building our corporate DNA and enabling us to have a company environment that strives for the well-being and growth of our employees. Our company culture is a great motivator for our ambitious X-People (the name given to TimeXtender employees). We find that our work environment really makes a difference in the lives of both existing and future X-People.
TimeXtender’s culture is designed with modernisation and innovation in mind. It offers employees a completely unique corporate culture that truly makes it a great place to work. The organisation is based on purpose-driven leadership and communication. TimeXtender starts every business meeting with a moment of silence. This daily gift of silence helps all meeting attendees to take a minute out of their busy day to relax, regroup, recharge and prepare for the new meeting that’s about to commence.
To build and foster relations, TimeXtender hosts a breakfast and recharge session every Friday morning for employees. Our offices have been designed with great care to promote peace and harmony at work, and our Denmark office was previously named “one of the six coolest offices in Europe” by Inc.
We have one-on-one purpose talks at an individual level with all X-People throughout the year, where they talk purpose, divide tasks, set objectives, discuss obstacles and share ideas. We also encourage all X-People to share these same ideas, along with their individual purpose, with fellow X-People in the organisational-purpose circles that they’re part of. The corporate purpose is built-in and communicated throughout the organisation from recruitment to on-boarding to the people journey. This is an important endeavour, given that the company is a purpose-driven organisation that strives to align business, team and individual purpose. This helps build a sustainable organisation that’s strong on innovation to create optimal grounds for cross-organisational knowledge sharing.
Every quarter, TimeXtender sends out an internal newsletter titled “TimeOut Update” to help empower the X-People.
Once a year, the company hosts PeopleXtender Day. This annual Fall tradition empowers X-People to build relations as “one global team”. During this event, there are various mental and physical activities and training sessions, along with small mindful breaks and recharge sessions. We also offer employees a Karma Day once a year to take a day off of work for participation in community service.
Lastly, what does success means to you?
We feel that if we can make a difference in someone’s life, then we’re all better for it. Along with our business aspirations, we also have a long-standing commitment to community service and supporting charitable events. Our employees all work within the realms of core beliefs: “simplify, automate, execute and engage fully charged”, so that we can best serve our customers and partners, remembering, that in the end, we’re all “people doing business with people”.
Thank you very much Mr. Krog Iversen. We learned a lot. It was a pleasure speaking with you.
Heine Krog Iversen is the CEO of TimeXtender. Since founding the company in 2006, Heine has been the chief executive responsible for transforming TimeXtender from a small startup to one of the fastest growing software companies in the world. Heine is driven by one core purpose: to empower every person in every organisation on the planet with instant access to data, for any use case they might have, thus enabling them to achieve more and make quality decisions with data, mind and heart.
Heine has guided TimeXtender to more than 3,000 customers across 94 countries. He oversees strategic planning, global outreach, positioning and differentiation, and organisational growth. He has worked tirelessly to manage TimeXtender’s growth and building the management systems needed to support a rapidly growing organisation such as regional offices, new staff, sales channels, and alliances and partnerships.
He has also played an instrumental role as an industry thought leader in helping to educate the market about becoming a data-driven organisation, ending the battle between business and IT, and offering the next-generation data platform for the future of BI and analytics. Heine has published many articles and has spoken myriad times at conferences, seminars, groups, panels, webinars, and various other speaking engagements.