What Businesses Can Learn Going Outside the Tech Bubble: Lessons From Acquiring a CMMS

As an Oakland-based email marketing software provider, we’re almost fully enveloped within the San Francisco Bay Area “tech bubble” where many of the next new technologies raved about are software and network infrastructure solutions focused on building value through sales to high paying IT clients. While awareness and usage of these solutions and services are almost vitally expected within the bubble, to the vast majority of the rest of the world lying outside the bubble, just being able to do their job is really all they’re asking for from technology.

A lot of us inside the “tech bubble” at first glance would have no clue what a CMMS even is. And only recently have Silicon Valley entities like Y Combinator taken a look at solutions serving facilities management and construction customers. After taking a tour of one of the emerging CMMS solutions I really began to see how this software speaks for itself in terms of the universal opportunities it opens for businesses outside the bubble. It was a calendar-driven system, where you could create projects and sub-tasks, assign tasks to others and receive inputs from other stakeholders (like marketing vendors). To an email marketer, this little platform could help keep someone on track with their email campaign pipeline and optimize their workflow. It could be used to help them keep track of when they needed to have the campaign components (links, HTML creative, lists) ready by, who was responsible for each component and help someone juggle getting multiple campaigns out at a time. It was a product whose usefulness was definitely apparent to us “within” the “tech bubble,” but it was quickly gaining traction from users outside of our norm.

As we started to ask questions about the platform, we were intrigued by how within a year it had signed up 15,000 customers all on minimal resources. What really sold us, though, were all of the glowing recommendations and testimonials from the customers themselves. Users seemed to genuinely LOVE the product.

Under our oversight and assistance, we believed we could leverage our resources to develop and market this product. Moreover, we felt that our company’s strength of assisting tech-newbies entering into the tech world could be leveraged and capitalized on here, as we increased outreach to facilities management and construction worker businesses—groups often left out of digital transformation and the tech world.

Maintaining our physical surroundings matters:

Learning directly from the customers of this service, did we really get an insight into the impact a solution like this has and the potential it does servicing more maintenance, operational and blue collar decision makers. The Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) oversees 413 K-12 schools serving over 270,000 students a year, employing 1,700 full and part time faculty and staff. SCCOE Compliance Monitor John Gomez sought a solution that would be easier to use and enable efficient execution of work orders to help the district ensure facilities were up to maintenance standards.

After signing up for the service at the start of the school term last August, in just the first three quarters of the school year, the time required to process 800 work orders were processed into the SCCOE system across 22 sites was significantly cut in half from 2-3 weeks to 7-8 days.

This past February, a severe rainstorm flooded parts of Santa Clara County forcing closures at 4 affected schools. Three of the affected schools were closed 1-2 days, while one was closed for a week after suffering upwards to $500,000 of building damage. School custodians and administrators, using the platform, were able to ensure efficient execution in getting these facilities up and running with minimal school closure time affecting faculty and students.

With users have ranged across many remote and rare industries ranging from operations executives from racing venues like Glen Watkins International to project managers at metropolitan and small town municipalities, hearing their stories really brought to light the operational needs of regular businesses outside of our tech bubble. We learned that the between the 1,830 acre racetrack venue and central office away from the track, Glen Watkins International, based in the heart of upstate New York relied mostly on email, memory, and old fashioned pen and paper to keep track of everything before signing onto a CMMS.

Outside of the bubble, where we do go from here?

We’ve recently taken the opportunity to visit regional facilities management industry meetups to hear out what the industry is really looking for technology to provide them. The feedback we received on the solution was overwhelmingly positive as these attendees were definitely “off the beaten path” for most software providers. Aside from us, there were only three other technology vendors with an on-site presence at this two-day event. One operations professional at the event even told us he would take this solution to his employer and ask him to sign up or else he’d leave the company from the overwhelming disarray of project management tracking processes that he has to do manually.

Ultimately, we found an opportunity to bridge processes within the tech bubble to needs outside the tech bubble. As a marketing company, we saw the value of a tool that keeps marketing teams like us organized on projects moving forward. In addition to that, taking a deep look at our lives outside of our work that our friends, acquaintances and extended family members outside of the tech profession, we noticed the broader way the tool can benefit their work in a very concrete way.

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