Golden Section Technology co-founder, Dougal Cameron, talks about software development and consulting for entrepreneurs or small business who want to be tech-enabled.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Jay Curry: And we’re back. Hello Texas. Welcome to Texas Business Radio. We’re going to have a great program today. This segment is on software and innovation and it’s going to be very informative. It’s something you need to listen to. Before we get started let me remind you, absolutely everything is in high definition color at texasbusinessradio.com. I don’t need to tell you anything else. You can go to go texasbusinessradio.com and it’s all there. If you want to send us a tweet we monitor #TBR, Texas Business Radio and finally our famous 24 hour hotline that you can call anytime. Matt doesn’t really care, he’s got a red phone right there by his bed. Two o’clock in the morning, he’ll get it for you. We’ll get the answers and we will get it on the air and you’ll have that big solution you need. Just 24 hours, the number is 844-814-8144.
Jay Curry: Alright that’s all the background we need to cover. Let’s get right into this. I have in the studio here
Dougal Cameron who’s the co-founder and managing director of Golden Section Technology.
Jay Curry: Dougal, thank you for joining us.
Dougal Cameron: Thank you Jay.
Jay Curry: So tell us, what the heck is Golden Section Technology?
Dougal Cameron: Golden Section Technology, we are innovation guides. We serve small businesses, mostly software companies all up to gross stage software businesses that have an institutional funder. We do everything from spot consulting on the tech road map down to building full products and so we can meet an entrepreneur or a small business that wants to be tech-enabled, really where they are at. They don’t have to have people on their team that are tech-focused to engage with us and then all the way up to the large software companies that you’d expect would already be doing some of these things. We can provide some value there as well.
Dougal Cameron: So we’re innovation guides and we will like to meet our clients where they’re at.
Jay Curry: I like that concept of innovation. That’s very good but in reality what you do is you will help companies figure out how software can re-invent their business or system and increase productivity or whatever it might be. Come up with some new creative ways to use all this new technology.
Dougal Cameron: That’s correct. Yeah. About half of our clients are already software businesses and so for those companies typically we’re looking at the process of how they go about building software whether it might be the ways their listening to their clients all the way down to how they are planning out their sprints or structuring their dev teams and connecting it to sales and marketing.
Dougal Cameron: Generally there’s, with most businesses, there’s a disconnect from the sales and marketing side of the company into the R&D. There’s sort of a natural in fighting that occurs. We can add value to that process. Typically, dev is viewed as a black box. We like to liberate that and make it more open and visible to the entire company so that everybody is pulling the same direction. That’s on the software side of our client base.
Dougal Cameron: For the service companies that want to be tech-enabled, generally we’ll meet somebody that has an idea of how they can serve their clients better either through a portal or through a complete re-organization or re-architecting of their service and we can provide a lot of help in that type of a dynamic. So whether it’s an oil field product company that wants to have a more dynamic relationship with their large OEM clients, we can add a lot of value there.
Jay Curry: That’s very interesting because you said half of your clients are software companies so your kind of the software guru for the software companies.
Dougal Cameron: That’s right. That’s correct.
Jay Curry: Yeah, that shows your expertise but it’s not everything you do. You’re also doing non-software companies. You have a specialty, a couple specialties you’ve had just because historically that’s what you’ve done and that’s what hospitality and?
Dougal Cameron: Hospitality and healthcare. That’s correct. The two big products in our sort of collective resume is the first one is iHotelier, which was a room reservation system, booking engine for booking independent hotels. That company started in … Really the product genesis was around 2000, it grew to now today being around 10,000 hotels worldwide. Most people, probably have stayed in an iHotelier hotel and not realized it because it’s a branded booking engine and so everything from the Green Briar to the Broadmoor to the Kabul hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan all use iHotelier as a platform.
Dougal Cameron: The second product in company is prognosis innovation healthcare. In that business we scaled it and grew it, built the product. We serve rural hospitals all across the country. Millions of patients per year. All of their records, all of there heath outcomes are all tracked through this product and that business sold last year to [inaudible 00:04:56], a portfolio company called Azalea Health Innovations and I’m currently sitting on the board of that company as well. We’re pretty excited about it.
Dougal Cameron: So, we’ve got deep expertise on the EHR, in patient and out patient on the health side and then also hospitality on the booking engine side of the hospitality industry.
Jay Curry: One of the things I thought was very interesting is in your hiring, you don’t hire stringers. You don’t bring people on kind of as a sub-contractor, 1099 and then put them on a project and take the cream off the top and then have them go away afterwards.
Jay Curry: You make a commitment, you bring people right on board.
Dougal Cameron: That’s correct Jay and what you mentioned earlier, we’re the software gurus, fortunately it’s not me, I’m not the guru. We like to hire the gurus.
Jay Curry: Well someone has to understand business too.
Dougal Cameron: There you go. Yeah. We like to hire the gurus, and we really believe in developing our team. We are a consulting company. Our people are our main resource, and we want to make a commitment to them just like we’re getting commitments from our clients and so we directly employ everybody on our team.
Jay Curry: So my career was also in the software arena in a totally different generation. Probably two generations from you but one of the things I experienced is that every project gets out of control. It’s almost by definition and I used to have my manager double the estimate and they’d bring it to me and I’d double it again and we’d still have a problem. What’s the difference between figuring it out up front, really working on the specs and spending time there versus just giving a good shot and then the users changing their mind all the time?
Dougal Cameron: That’s the subject of a lot of research and so it’s an enormous difference. Eight to 10 X is the kind of conventional wisdom right now of a bug that gets out the product and into the field versus catching it early on in the requirements gathering process and a lot of that … Software groups can just get over time … Over time all things decay and software groups, I don’t know, I don’t think are exempt from that so the process breaks down and what results is chaos on the timelines and on the budgets and generally what we find is keeping a steady rhythm of one to two weeks sprints, sometimes a month, if it’s a larger project and focusing on the process and visibility within the process really helps to align all the constituents within a company towards achieving an end result.
Jay Curry: And having an end result.
Dougal Cameron: And having an end result.
Jay Curry: Yeah, so to me the point is, two things. One is, you need to get people like you on that understand and do this every day. Secondly, you need to spend the time up front to get it right.
Dougal Cameron: That’s right.
Jay Curry: If you’re trying to do it on your own, it’s going to cost you eight to 10 times as much when you figure out your people don’t get it. You want to be called early in the life cycle right?
Dougal Cameron: That’s correct. Yeah, we’d like to be called early, early on. When a company is thinking about a new product, that’s the right time to call us. Generally, if we’re taking a project on spec and we’re doing a fix fee engagement for our client, about a third of that project timeline is going to be dedicated to requirement gathering so no development work at all. I mean, technically that is development work but not what people traditionally think of as development work and so that’s a full third of the project life cycle is spent understanding the project and getting the requirements right.
Jay Curry: So, if you’re a company and you’re looking at maybe an app, you guys do apps or some software integration or software that really will change your business, be innovative, you’re the guys to call and get on board.
Dougal Cameron: That’s correct. That’s correct. We have a pretty easy offering, it’s called a Tech Strategy Session. It’s no commitment, very easy to get on board. Typically we’ll have clients come into our office and talk with them, both myself and my partner have a lot of experience on the business side and on the tech side, holistically about their project and about their company and how technology might be able to give a better experience to their customers.
Dougal Cameron: So that’s a good early way for a company that’s exploring, whether they might need some help, to get some help and it’s pretty cheap and it’s a good way to get access to our talent and see whether we’re a good fit.
Jay Curry: Right. Pick the phone and find out. I mean, it could save you lots and lots of cash. So I’ve been talking to Dougal Cameron who is the founder and director at Golden Section Technology. Thank you so much for coming on. If somebody wants to learn more and give you that call, how do they do it?
Dougal Cameron: They can find us at gstdev.com. That’s gstdev.com and they can find all of our particulars there and reach out to us through the website.
Jay Curry: Alright. There you’ve got it. Well folks, we got to go pay some bills. This is Jay Curry. Don’t go anywhere because we’re going to be right back.
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Along with hosting “Texas Business Radio”, Jay is a Professional Certified Coach and Master Chair facilitating four Houston-based Vistage peer groups. In addition to being a best selling non-fiction author, the 2015 release of his award winning novel, Nixon and Dovey: the Legend Returns, adds novelist to his title. Jay holds a BS in Mathematics from Oklahoma State and an MS in Computer Science from Kansas State. You can learn more about Jay HERE.