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How Datylon Streamlines Data visualization And Communicaton: Q/A with COO Stijn Simoens

How Datylon Streamlines Data visualization And Communicaton: Q/A with COO Stijn Simoens

Roberto Popolizio
Data visualization and communication across teams is a struggle for most B2B companies:
  • Traditional design tools are not great for data visualization
  • data visualization tools often lack even basic design features
  • No one is facilitating communication between data teams and designers.
Over 1300 B2B companies (including the US government and the United Nations) have been able to integrate data visualization and design thanks to Datylon, the solution developed by Stijn Simoens in 2018 after 28 years working at high-tech international B2B companies such as Barco or Hewlett Packard

In this interview, Stijn explained to Website Planet how Datylon streamlines the data visualizations cycle and communication between data and design teams, and why automation will be key in the future but never without humans.

Introduce yourself and your company

Datylon helps B2B organizations create more attractive and understandable data reports faster with a set of data visualization tools and services that streamline the data visualization lifecycle and enhance collaboration between data analysts and designers.

We enable collaboration between designers and data teams for designing, producing, and sharing engaging charts, dashboards, and in particular, data stories.

These data stories can be crafted as one-off documents or templates to speed up the generation of recurring reports based on data and significantly reduce production time for periodic reports by tenfold or more.

Since 2020, we have garnered satisfaction from over 1300 customers worldwide, including prominent organizations such as the US government and the United Nations, as well as numerous report designers working in various industries.

What problems are you solving for your customers and audience?

Most B2B companies have robust data collection systems, but struggle to convey data insights internally or to a broader audience. Presenting pertinent information at the right time as a compelling data story is what keeps actionable knowledge from getting lost in the daily information overload.

It comes down to two problems:

  1. Effective communication of engaging data requires different tools and skills compared to data analytics. But traditional tools lead to prolonged production times, challenges in data updates and consistency, and the tools used by designers and data analysts are often incompatible.
  2. Creating impactful data stories requires collaborative teamwork – Data analysts gather and summarize data, shaping the messaging for specific audiences, while designers excel in crafting understandable and visually appealing reports that guide readers through the data story.
Using Datylon for Illustrator, designers can create reports with no creative limitations, while data analysts find an easy interface in Datylon Report Studio for updating data.

But the real kicker is automation…

In fact, by leveraging Datylon Report Server, the entire process of report creation can be fully automated. Instead of producing one-off data stories, designers can develop templates fueled by data from multiple sources, automatically generating numerous reports delivered to the reader. That’s thanks to the versatility of our platform, which can be implemented as a standalone solution or embedded in a SaaS or enterprise cloud application.

This level of automation opens up opportunities that were previously impractical or cost-prohibitive:
  • Data-driven regionalized newsletters
  • Comprehensive investment reports with personalized advice
  • Extensive survey or research reports with personalized recommendations, evaluation and scoring reports,
  • Periodic internal and external market intelligence
  • Publications supporting customer loyalty programs
In essence, we empower organizations to harness the true potential of their data for more effective and personalized communication.

Screen Shot 2024-01-20 at 9.52.39 AM

Which types of companies benefit the most from what you offer?

As organizations, whether businesses, government entities, or non-profit organizations, increasingly recognize the importance of data in their operations, streamlined data-driven reporting has become essential across virtually every sector.

We observe a rapid adoption of data-driven practices in the financial services sector, particularly among investment and asset management companies, as well as in government agencies, non-profit organizations, and data provider companies across various industries. Simultaneously, there is a growing demand from Software as a Service (SaaS) companies seeking to generate compelling reports using data generated or stored within their applications.

In addition to catering to these sectors, we provide support to a large community of data visualization and report design professionals through our Datylon for Illustrator plugin.

While our primary regional focus is on the United States, Europe, and the UK & Commonwealth countries, we also recognize significant market potential in South America, Asia, and Africa. The universal need for effective data-driven reporting transcends geographical boundaries, and we are positioned to address this demand globally.

What makes them eventually choose you over your competitors?

Traditional design tools lack effective data visualization capabilities, and dedicated data visualization tools often fall short in design functionalities. Datylon bridges this gap seamlessly within its platform, integrating both worlds to provide a comprehensive solution.

While many tools primarily use data visualization for exploration, Datylon concentrates on data explanation. This focus is crucial in situations where non-experts need to comprehend the data, ensuring that the intended message of the authors is effectively conveyed.

Users appreciate the vast creative freedom provided by our design module, especially when they have to adhere to strict brand guidelines, and designers using Datylon claim to work four times faster than with other tools. Additionally, when employed for automation, the look and feel of reports can be adjusted at any time without the need for coding.

This unique combination of features is the reason why our platform is frequently used in conjunction with perceived competitors.

Cost-effectiveness is another significant advantage. Our users can initiate their journey with a simple plugin, costing a bit over two hundred USD per year, and progressively evolve towards a fully automated reporting solution while maintaining the use of previously created templates. This flexible pricing model allows users to scale their usage according to their needs, making Datylon an accessible and scalable solution for various organizations.

Since you started, what helped you grow and retain your audience?

Since our inception in 2020, our growth and audience retention have been driven by strategic initiatives and a commitment to delivering top-notch creative dataviz tools through Datylon for Illustrator and its online counterpart, Datylon Report Studio. These tools have positioned us as industry leaders.

Our freemium version of the online tool has been instrumental in creating traction and establishing a robust prospect database. This database has proven valuable as it consistently converts into customers through targeted email campaigns. Although we’ve primarily relied on organic search traffic and leads from influencers, we are now exploring outbound and paid campaigns to further enhance our reach.

Our commitment to responsive product support and dataviz consultancy contributes to customer retention. In fact, while our industry-average churn reflects the seasonal nature of some users, such as annual report designers, a significant number return for their specific projects.

Moreover, releasing new features five times a year, often based on direct user requests, reinforces our dedication to meeting evolving user needs. For example, over the last two years we’ve significantly enhanced the automation capabilities of our solution – This enables users to generate thousands of charts or reports driven by data while maintaining the same on-brand styling capabilities as manually designed reports. Our Datylon Report Server customers showcase remarkable loyalty, attributed to our compelling value proposition, user-friendly growth path, and exceptional customer support that minimizes churn.

What tools are you using to run your business and daily activities

As a software company, our product development relies on an extensive array of open source and paid tools, which I won’t delve into in detail.

On the go-to-market side, our operational framework is predominantly centered around HubSpot. We leverage various hubs within the HubSpot ecosystem, including Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Services Hub, and CMS Hub. This entails managing a spectrum of functions, such as website development and maintenance, email campaigns, contact database management, customer success initiatives, and our help center. The synchronization of user data from our platform to HubSpot is facilitated through the use of APIs.

Additionally, our payment system operates through Stripe, seamlessly integrated into our platform via their API. This integrated approach ensures a cohesive and streamlined operational infrastructure for our marketing, sales, services, and content management activities.

What perspective do you have about where your industry is headed?

Certainly, as the volume of gathered and analyzed data continues to surge, the demand for efficient and transparent reporting is set to rise in tandem. Data storytelling is becoming increasingly crucial for organizations to distinguish themselves, aiding audiences in comprehending the substantial amount of information presented to them.

Positioned at the intersection of creative software and data visualization/analytics software, Datylon stands at the forefront of this evolving landscape.

What’s in the roadmap for your future?

The key for a prosperous future lies in automation. A plethora of tools and technologies will continue to emerge to facilitate this shift.

However, whether it’s generative AI-backed dataviz design – report authoring with a user interface markedly different from what was conventional just two years ago, or fully automated report production – the pivotal factor remains the need for a (dataviz) designer possessing a creative and critical eye to safeguard the organization’s brand. Simultaneously, a data analyst is indispensable for interpreting the results generated by these advanced tools.

The convergence of these roles ensures a successful trajectory in an industry where the interplay of creativity and data analysis is increasingly vital.

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