A Chat With Sanjiv Sidhu of Business Management Software Maker o9

Big data, meet artificial intelligence. At least, that’s the idea put forth by Sanjiv Sidhu, founder and CEO of o9 Solutions, a Dallas-based software company.

O9 makes software that it says helps executives better sort through the noise of big data and then helps them interpret it in order to determine next steps for the organization as a whole. “It’s sort of like the cobbler’s son not having shoes,” Sidhu says. “I ran a fairly large company, and in my own company there were constant mismatches,” he says. “The air force was bombing its own troops.”

He’s talking about one of the biggest and most difficult problems in business today—making sense of huge amounts of different kinds of information, and using it to help make better business decisions.

Essentially, o9’s software, called mPower, creates a dashboard that’s updated in real-time and contains information on internal company data, resource supply statuses, marketing initiatives, and competitor statistics, among other things, and that data can then be crunched down to answer specific questions, like in a Google search. “We take the data and early indicators of changes and answer the questions better and faster,” he says. “What’s going to happen?”

Sidhu says the software also allows executives and department heads to have the sort of preliminary fact-finding discussions before management meetings where decisions need to be made. “If there’s different points of view before the core decision meeting, you’ll see this in a Facebook-like format,” he adds. “So the discussion [in the main meeting] becomes rich and collaborative.”

The company’s main challenge now is to expand its reach and hire additional sales staff with the goal of doubling o9’s revenue annually, he adds.

Among o9’s clients are companies such as Restoration Hardware, Frito Lay, Sony, and Bacardi. The company was founded five years ago; its co-founders, including Sidhu, have invested about $15 million to finance the company, he says.

Other companies are competing for large enterprise customers in business performance and operations planning, including Redwood City, CA-based Tidemark and Steelwedge in Pleasanton, CA.

Sidhu previously founded and led Dallas’s i2 Technologies, which made supply chain management software, making him one of North Texas’ most successful, if not as well known, entrepreneurs. During the ’90s boom, the company soared to a worth of nearly $30 billion in 2000, but the tech crash—along with financial restatements and lawsuits alleging faulty software—contributed to a decline in the company’s fortunes, The Dallas Morning News reported at the time. In 2010, i2 was purchased by JDA Software Group for about $604 million. Sidhu, who had previously worked at Texas Instruments, left i2 in 2009, 21 years after he founded the company.

He says o9, in many ways, reflects his experience as chief executive of i2 as well as that of his CEO clients. “As a CEO, I kind of always dreamt of a next generation management system,” he adds.

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