“Well, how often is this being used?”
As Senior Product Manager at ButterflyMX, Jack Lewis asks this kind of question a lot.
“One of the things I like to do is go out and talk to our customers, but another thing I like to do is dig in and really understand how people are currently using our product,” Jack says.
That product, ButterflyMX’s core offering, is a smart video intercom system for multifamily and commercial buildings.
“We design hardware and software that enables tenants, visitors, and building staff to grant and manage property access from a smartphone,” Jack explains.
Through the ButterflyMX mobile app, tenants can do magical things like issue “virtual keys” to visitors, letting friends, family, or service providers access the property for a predetermined period of time.
These virtual keys were just one of the many features Jack wanted to investigate. They seemed useful, but were people actually using them? And would they be practical for commercial buildings too, not just multifamily ones?
To answer those questions, Jack wanted to explore the company’s many different data sources. “We have hardware at the property, we have a backend to manage it, and then an app. So I wanted to go in and figure out how people were leveraging the different products we had.”
And that’s when he hit a roadblock.
“A bad use of my time”
When Jack joined ButterflyMX less than a year ago, he discovered a fairly typical, though somewhat frustrating, data workflow: the engineering team controlled access to data, so product owners like him would have to go through engineering to glean insights. Having some SQL experience himself, Jack hoped he might be able to bypass this bottleneck.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t so simple.
“I had to reach out to our backend lead engineer and ask for access to the database. And he was like, ‘Oh, we don’t have any real tools, but I can give you direct access with an SSH key if you find a client for reading from the database.’ I wanted to get at the data, and understand what the usage was, but this would make me have to go back five, six years, and re-learn SQL… Having to go back into Stack Overflow and teach myself again? It felt like a bad use of my time.”
So, he began researching potential business intelligence solutions that could let him more easily explore product data himself.
At first, he considered some very simplistic SQL tools, but he knew from experience that there were more robust analytics solutions available. Yet since ButterflyMX is still a startup, he was also wary of the cost and complexity of competitive tools he had encountered at previous companies.
“The big ones were $30,000, $40,000 to get set up—clearly gauged around an enterprise solution. And at that point I was thinking that I was the only one [at ButterflyMX] that had use cases for this. So I was looking for something really lightweight that would just help me get at SQL faster.”
That’s when he discovered Chartio.
The snowball effect
As an affordable solution that would let Jack do ad-hoc analysis of product data, Chartio seemed like a perfect fit for his needs. So, he approached one of ButterflyMX’s engineers, who set up a read-only database that Jack could connect to Chartio. Soon Jack was up and running, exploring data and generating reports about product usage.
“I think I had everything set up within a day, which was awesome. Just being able to plug everything together and have your data in there was pretty impressive”, Jack recalls. “I didn’t hit any hurdles, which left me with such confidence that this would be usable, easy to maintain, easy to bring in new data sources – it kind of checked every box without creating a headache, and that was really what I valued.”
But then something unexpected happened.
“[That engineer] started to bring up the fact that our COO is asking him for these reports every day. And he’s like, ‘Wait, could our COO get these out of Chartio instead of using my time?’ Which started a snowball effect.”
So Jack connected with the COO, and showed him Chartio.
It turns out the leadership team was preparing for an important board meeting at the time, and was struggling to connect their Salesforce data to their own proprietary data so they could present insights to the board. Chartio could not only make it possible, but could save them significant time over trying to cobble the data together by hand.
But it didn’t stop there. Soon ButterflyMX’s CSM team got word of Chartio. They instantly recognized the time it could save them in generating quarterly business reviews for customers; a process that previously took three days per company could be reduced to just minutes.
While Jack had assumed he might be the only one at ButterflyMX with a use case for Chartio, clearly he was not alone. It turns out that all types of business users were eager to explore data on their own—they just hadn’t been empowered to do so before.
And thanks to Chartio’s integrations with user-friendly services like Stitch and Snowflake, Jack says nearly anyone can get Chartio up and running themselves.
“The tools are now in place where you don’t need an engineer to go and run this process. A product manager, someone in finance – anyone who’s ambitious enough can go in and there are tools to set this up. I ended up going with Stitch data and Snowflake as the database, and you can follow [Chartio’s] docs, and everything works. That ability, for someone outside engineering to connect all these data silos, and still be reasonable in terms of the pricing… I was like, ‘This is incredible. Every startup should be using this setup.’”
ButterflyMX’s ‘virtual key’ to success
For a company whose main product is all about granting property access, it seems only fitting that more and more teams at ButterflyMX are now unlocking the benefits of more accessible data exploration.
Jack and his product team are using Chartio to track adoption, monitoring and comparing usage at both commercial and multifamily properties. Jack has also created dashboards for the finance team, so they can watch daily and weekly revenue as new intercoms get installed. And he’s fielding interest from “basically all” of the company’s CSMs, as well as their sales and operations teams, who are all eager to use Chartio to track their own important metrics.
As the unofficial Chartio ambassador at ButterflyMX, Jack initially created dashboards for these teams himself. But long-term, he thinks everyone at the company will be able to connect data sources and build their own dashboards. And he attributes that to both Chartio’s functionality and its ease of use.
“You’re giving a graphical interface for being able to go in and explore your data. That ability to go in and poke around and figure out what’s going on, the fact that you’re empowering people who don’t know SQL, who don’t know data tools, it opens up the possibility for them to be able to go in and do this. I think that’s unbelievably powerful.”