The story of Bizeo: From disaster to inspiration

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since the Queensland floods. But out of the drama of January 2011 came an idea that has become Bizeo, a ground-breaking business monitoring system unlike anything you’ve seen before.

On 24 January, we’ll launch Bizeo at a fun, free event at the Polish Club, Milton, Queensland. You can read more about the event here. For my first post in this blog,  I thought I’d share some of the Bizeo story.

Like many others, our Milton-based business, Direct Marketing Software, was affected by the floods in January 2011. While we weren’t flooded ourselves, the businesses around us went under and we quickly found ourselves on an island.

In the dramatic week that followed, I saw the shortcomings of our disaster recovery plan. But it was the months following that proved the most valuable, as they led to the birth of the ground-breaking Bizeo monitoring system that we’re launching now.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and so it was with Bizeo.

Putting out fires

After the water receded, we suddenly had a lot of problems, including unreliable telephone exchange and power supply, which our business depends on. We were also very busy helping customers in similar or worse situations.

Even six months later, we were still fighting fires. Telstra had problems with its exchange and our internet connections were up and down — not good when you’re hosting websites for some of Australia’s largest and highest profile charities.

As many businesses were focused on just staying afloat, our cash flow took a large hit and our pipeline was thin. Customers had trouble paying invoices, sales were almost non-existent, and websites and other services that we hosted were going down and customers were telling us before we knew ourselves!

There weren’t enough hours in the day to keep track of it all, and our previously methodical processes and reporting systems just couldn’t cope.

Finding inspiration

I realised that I spent much of my days checking things and worrying about what might be wrong that I was unaware of. I felt like I was no longer across everything, which made me very nervous.

I needed to know where every aspect of the business stood at that moment. So I launched a project to find the best way to keep tabs on our IT equipment, websites and infrastructure. Here’s what we tried:

  1. We tried using commercially available products. We used a website uptime monitoring tool to check the websites, but it couldn’t check our web services.
  2. We tried something that would monitor our servers, but it was incredibly complex and couldn’t check the power supply.
  3. We tried a dashboard system on our CRM database, but it couldn’t check the account system (and why do these dashboards always have hundreds of graphs and controls?).
  4. Then there was a heap of data we just couldn’t get access to, such as data stored in Excel spreadsheets, from the web and that had to be collated manually by staff.

What we really needed was a business monitoring system that could monitor all of our systems 24/7, be accessible from anywhere, including a mobile phone, and be incredibly simple to use. A portable, simple, powerful alert system. Was that too much to ask?

The Eureka moment

The Eureka moment came when I realised that it wasn’t just about knowing when things were wrong. I needed peace of mind all the time, even when all was well with the business!

This led to Bizeo, a ground-breaking cloud-based monitoring tool that I now place behind only the telephone and email in terms of its importance to my business life.

It does exactly what I needed it to – constantly measures hundreds of KPIs across my business no matter where they’re located or how many systems we have. It has a single indicator that’s green if everything is ok and red if something isn’t. If it’s red, I just double-click the icon, find out which KPI is causing trouble and fix it.

So, at a glance, I have peace of mind about my business – even if I’m on holidays and all I have is a smartphone! And it’s not complicated – obviously I don’t have time for complicated. I finally feel like I’m across everything!

In the 18 months since, we’ve filed for a patent for the concept and won a significant assistance grant from Commercialisation Australia, something that will prove incredibly important as we take Bizeo to the global market.

I know that my business would’ve bounced back from the floods much quicker if I’d had this tool two years ago. And I would’ve slept better! By comparison, this Christmas was one of the most relaxing I’ve ever had, despite the business being more complex than before the flood.

Now I feel disaster-ready. And I can’t wait to tell other business owners all about it, so they can be ready too!

Note: I’d love to see you at the launch of Bizeo on 24 January. You can register at http://www.bizeo.com.au/events/launch.

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