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Business by the Numbers: StackPath CEO Lance Crosby on Data-Driven Business

By Business by the Numbers

Welcome to Business by the Numbers, our new blog series where we talk to some of the most influential people in the cloud, internet infrastructure and web hosting industries about the role data analysis plays in their organization.

We wanted to lead off this series with an interview with Lance Crosby, former CEO of SoftLayer and now head of StackPath, a next-generation intelligent and secure web services platform. Crosby has been a huge proponent of using a data-centric approach to validate gut business decisions, and that there are always data points to track if you know where to look.

Here’s our Q&A with StackPath CEO and Chairman Lance Crosby:

Open-i Advisors: Lance, you’ve got an amazing track record of industry successes including founding SoftLayer (which IBM later made the core of its cloud business) and your more recent creation of StackPath. Can you give us an example of how data helped challenge an assumption or gut reaction when it came to a business decision?

Lance Crosby: It’s all about the data and you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Listening to one’s gut is important when starting a new business, but I am a strong believer in using data to validate what the gut is saying.

There are numerous examples of when we used data to validate assumptions.  One that comes to mind is while at SoftLayer, we gave HostGator rates that generated a lower margin than other customers. This may seem counterintuitive to making money but my gut told me that HostGator’s’ size would drive economies of scale and drive higher overall EBITDA. I had a feeling that would be the case, and the data verified that.

Another example, also at SoftLayer, is customer churn. We all know that unhappy customers are more likely to leave, but thanks to data we learned that customers with a support ticket that wasn’t resolved within 7 interactions were 72% more likely to cancel their services. It became a company initiative to satisfactorily fix all customer issues in 6 interactions or less which allowed us to retain customers and garner the stellar customer service reputation that SoftLayer, and now StackPath, is known for.

OiA: Some aspects of a business are easy to measure while others seem difficult or impossible to track. How do you track business operations that don’t seem to have obvious trackable data points?

LC: It’s true that some things are easier to measure than others, but everything has data points you can track. Every single activity, process product, or service can be measured. Financial measurements are often the easiest to measure, operational measurements are more complex, and performance measurements are even more complex and partially subjective, but if you can define it, you can measure it. You may have to change your language and get super-specific about the KPIs (key performance indicators) that are most important, but once you do that you can measure it.

As an example, at StackPath part of the way we measure sales performance is using lead and lag indicators. Lead indicators are activities and lag equals results. So using sales as an example, say a sales rep makes 100 calls (lead indicator) and ends up with 10 sales (lag indicator) as an average, we now can reasonably predict results and adjust lead indicators accordingly.

OiA: Are high-level company-wide metrics enough or is it important to get more granular data? How do you decide when and where to drill down?

LC: Company-wide metrics are nice as they provide an overview of how the company is doing in general. For example, if we have 100 employees, and we do $1M in revenue, the metric is $10k per employee. But it is important to drill down by department, product, etc. to know WHY the company is doing as it is doing and to be able to make adjustments as necessary.

StackPath has dozens of teams and hundreds of people across the US and internationally. I want to be able to know what is going on with any team at any location at any time so drill down on everything because you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

OiA: What KPIs in general do you find most valuable and why?

LC: General metrics are generally useless. The more specific you can make them, the better. At StackPath, in general, the KPIs I find most valuable are:

  1. Profit: This might go without saying, but profit is one of the most important performance indicators to help me determine how we’re doing as a company.
  2. Customer projections: especially with our content delivery network (CDN) business, it’s important for us to know when our customers are going to need more bandwidth so we can serve up content to end-users with high performance and low latency. Analyzing their resource demands and usage patterns helps us do this.
  3. Real-time average weighted costs of megabits per second (Mbps): Speaking of PoPs, we track daily, weekly and monthly averages in real time for network ops and price planning.
  4. Sales by region: we are building a highly scalable platform of core services at the cloud’s edge. Knowing how sales are going by region helps us determine locations of and enhancements to our next point-of-presence (PoP).
  5. Employee satisfaction: A lot of times, companies focus on all the things I just listed, but forget about one of the most important KPIs of all – employee satisfaction. Happy, loyal staff work better. They help boost both productivity and morale. While one of the harder KPIs to measure, it is worth the effort to provide ways for employees to ask questions, share their concerns and ideas, and to provide feedback.

OiA: Is more data always better? How much data should a company collect and keep? And since obviously security is a concern of yours – what are the security implications of holding this data?

LC: I always like to tell people to “be a data hoarder” and to store all the data you can afford. You may not use it today, but it could prove invaluable in the future.

Security is a major concern of mine – that’s why I founded StackPath. Unfortunately, every day there seems to be another breach and more data is compromised. The StackPath platform is an integrated response to a fragmented problem created by too many individual, appliance-based, bolt-on security solutions. It’s time to give businesses internet services that have security built in, not bolted on, so they can be reliable guardians of their data.


Please post a comment to this blog, and also let us know who we should interview next in our Business by the Numbers series.

OiA Sunday Reading List #8

By Sunday Reading

In the age of Cambridge Analytica what are reasonable data norms?

While it’s usually best to just sit back with a bucket of popcorn and watch reality business drama unfold, I was surprised by the severe reactions insinuating Facebook’s eagerness to profit at the expense of its users’ data, creating paranoia around data analytics and equating data driven targeting to an underhanded practice of mind control.

Why Data Driven Sales Teams are the Most Advantageous

Your sales teams must come forward to encourage and nurture these leads, and turn them into paying and profitable customers. Many businesses that receive plenty of website traffic may still complain about lack of sales. That being said, data-driven sales teams are thriving. So what’s the difference?

Riding A Rocket Of Awesome To Data-Driven Success

Before Rockets of Awesome Founder and CEO Rachel Blumenthal had a thriving business — her subscription service for children’s clothes — she was a mom with a problem: There is no such thing as being done with clothes shopping for kids. No matter what anyone does, no matter how hard anyone tries, children are in the annoying habit of constantly growing.

3 Barriers To Data Quality And How To Solve For Them

Today, 80% of marketers say audience data is critical to their digital advertising efforts. Additionally, the same research noted that another 53% have increased their annual spend on data-driven ads. As audience data’s importance continues to grow for media buyers and sellers alike, concerns over quality have dramatically increased.

OiA Sunday Reading List #7

By Sunday Reading

We’ve been talking about GDPR a lot lately, and we launched a new GDPR service to help companies in the cloud and hosting space get ready.

So, it’s little wonder that we’ve also been reading a lot about GDPR, and how companies and industries will work after GDPR has become a reality. If this reality seems too far away, a company like Open-i Advisors can not only help you get GDPR ready, but also help you take full advantage of it throughout your company as you get more data-driven.

Check out these great articles about the post-GDPR world:

Post-GDPR, Clients Will Own Data And Agencies Must Get Creative

GDPR is changing the advertising industry. Client control over their own data will shift a lot of the common ways ads are run. Getting ahead of this change can put you ahead of the game. Learning how to interact with clients and potential clients in a post-GDPR world is vital to your company’s survival.

How Big Data Can Make a Big Difference in HR
[email protected]

This is an overview of the book The Data Driven Leader. While not specifically related to GDPR, it focuses on how being data driven can assist companies in making positive HR decisions. We’ve been reflecting on how the digital privacy transformation that’s coming with GDPR can translate to every single department, even HR.

It’s time to become data-driven (or die)

People keep saying that now is the time to get data driven, or you’ll suffer the consequences. They are saying the same thing about GDPR compliance. Our answer? Combine the two. Take the lessons of the power of big data, and choose now as the moment to start to take control of your data, both for growth purposes and GDPR focused ones.

New Whitepaper: Improving Your Domain Business & Driving More Sales with Data

By Insights

Want to know how to use domain data to drive more domain sales but don’t know where to start? You need to read this new whitepaper from Open-i Advisors and DomainsBot which provides crucial insights and practical suggestions.

Learn how to:

  • Use competitive analysis to discover new opportunities
  • Build realistic personas with data to improve your customer experience
  • Spend your marketing dollars more effectively
  • Drive loyalty and retention with reactivation campaigns

Transform your domain business by putting data at the root of it.

Download the Whitepaper Now

OiA Sunday Reading List #6: How GDPR Marks an Evolution for Various Company Functions

By Sunday Reading

This week, Open-i Advisors launched our own GDPR consulting service. Here’s a short reading list to end the week on, with a few GDPR themed articles we find fairly interesting.

4 Marketers Share How GDPR Will Shake Up Brands’ Data Strategies

GDPR as Transforming Data Privacy Requirements for Companies

GDPR and retailers: A forced opportunity to turn data into gold

What do Data Scientists and Data Engineers Need to Know About GDPR?

An Evolution, Not A Revolution: Underscoring The Nuances Of GDPR

In particular, these readings highlight how GDPR changes things not only for those having to store and manage information, but also for marketers, lawyers, retailers, and anyone who uses data. And it’s not just tech companies like web hosts, app developers and cloud services who have to be concerned about GDPR — all sorts of organizations have to be aware of their use of data. But as we’ve mentioned before, GDPR preparation means getting your data footprint in order, and that’s something that could help your business run more efficiently. It’s good in the long-run.

These articles and posts got our attention this week. Please feel free to share the ones that got your attention in the comments.

Getting Your Data Under Control Before the GDPR Deadline

By Insights

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation – comes into effect May 25, 2018, bringing with it new rules around data collection, storage and usage.

With data breaches making headlines on a regular basis, consumers are rightfully wondering how data is being collected, stored and used. The General Data Protection Regulation (or “GDPR”) is the European Union’s attempt at tackling this issue with a new rules around the collection, storage and processing of the information of EU Data Subjects – including end users, customers, and employees.

GDPR goes into effect May 25, 2018, and the penalties for GDPR non-compliance can amount to up to €20 million, or four percent annual global turnover – whichever is higher.

It’s very important to ensure your organization is compliant and this post will help you understand how to get your data under control before the GDPR deadline. Read More

Open-i Advisors Announces GDPR Preparation Service for Hosting and Cloud Providers

By Uncategorized


Open-i Advisors’ New GDPR Preparation Service Helps Hosting and Cloud Providers Map their User Data

Open-i Advisors guides clients through their GDPR compliance journey in a thorough, flexible, and cost-efficient manner.

Washington, D.C. — April 3, 2018 – Any business collecting, storing, processing, or otherwise handling data containing personally identifiable information on European Union citizens needs to plan for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect May 25, 2018.

Open-i Advisors’ new GDPR preparation service makes it easy and affordable to assess how web hosting and cloud computing providers collect, store, and use customer data. Our data consultants are experts on mapping the way your organization uses data, finding possible risks, and determining what steps you can take to mitigate risks. You’ll be presented with a document that can be either assessed by our partner lawyers or your own legal team.

We work with you to create a report that includes:

  • A summary of risk points
  • A map of data flows by department
  • A list of suppliers and other ​third​ parties with whom the client may share data (or who may share data with the client) with their GDPR statements included as relevant
  • A list of all found public privacy or disclosure statements, ready for review

“By working with Open-i Advisors, you can save time and money by packaging up everything you will need to hand off to legal counsel so that they can address your needs in as low cost a manner as possible,” says Open-i Advisors Co-Founder Christian Dawson. “Our legal partners are experts on GDPR compliance, so if you’re looking for a holistic solution we can provide that as well”.

GDPR preparation from Open-i Advisors provides data expertise when you need it, with a data-consultant led discovery process, to analyze how data is used across your organization. Our process is straightforward and simple:

Initial Compliance Check: We speak with key people at your company to assess your data privacy risks and measure your current privacy controls against the GDPR.

Data Discovery – Internal: An extensive register of your organization’s current data processing activities will be produced, along with a comprehensive visualization of the organizational data life-​cycle in its entirety.

Data Discovery – External: Open-i Advisors will do a public search of statements made by your organization, including privacy policy, email submission forms, white paper submission forms, client sign-​up forms, etc.

Final Compliance Check: Open-i Advisors will highlight areas of anticipated concern to consider business process changes where necessary, and to discuss with legal counsel.

This GDPR preparation service is offered for a reasonable hourly fee, which will result in a low cost for your company to gain all the insights you need to identify internal changes needed by your organization.

Find out more about GDPR Preparation for Hosting & Cloud Companies here:

About Open-i Advisors

Open-i Advisors is a consulting company focused on Internet-related industries. Its hands-on approach helps organizations manage their customer data and determine their optimum market focus using next-generation industry segment data gathering and analysis. Open-i Advisors industry-expert consultants offer their experience and leverage a process that includes the power of quantitative data to better understand and actualize client goals. For more information, please visit

Sunday Reading List #5

By Sunday Reading
This week, we’ve been reading a lot about skepticism around data. We think it’s important to think critically about data’s role in helping your company grow. We are firm believers that being data-driven is the best path to growth. However, data needs to be used extremely wisely, and data needs to be of high quality to be useful. This week we’ve got a few articles that have kept us on our toes.

Read More

Sunday Reading List #4: StackOverflow Developer Survey Results 2018

By Sunday Reading

This week, we are featuring only one thing on our reading list – the StackOverflow Developer Survey Results 2018.

StackOverflow is essentially an online forum where developers go when they’re stuck on a problem. Since its launch in 2008, it’s become the largest and most trusted online community for developers to learn and share​ ​their programming ​knowledge.

Drawing from this enormous community, StackOverflow does this survey in which more than 100,000 developers tell StackOverflow what tools they’re using, what they value in work, what they want for their careers, and much more. And each year, the results are chock full of incredible insights into the technical community that Open-i Advisors, and many of our customers, inhabit. It is the best data-driven insight into the mind of the developer that we’ve come across. Moreover, watching it change from year to year is useful in tracking trends in both technical innovation and HR.

We strongly recommend reading the entire survey, but here are the key takeaways we found.

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OiA Sunday Reading List #3

By Uncategorized

This week has been a busy one at Open-i Advisors Inc. Here are some of the things our consultants have been reading. A lot of it this week focuses on the fact that neither people alone, or data alone, can get the job done. Only together are they most effective. Here’s our reading list:

Read More