Friday, August 10

10 Questions with Steven Schneider

I work in an industry where the potential to provide value to a customer is great; and equally great is the potential for new innovations in technology and business models. Steven Schneider is doing both - innovating within the BI industry and providing value to customers. He does this as President of OnDemandIQ Inc by using their unique SaaS BI approach and unlocking the data companies have in a valuable way.

Sending your data to an external company to be properly hosted and delivered securely back to your employees is just one benefit. Steven shares 10 more excellent reasons to utilize SaaS BI for your organization.

  1. Question: What really differentiates OnDemandIQ from other SaaS BI companies?

    Answer: First, ease of use. Second, we provide a low cost of entry.

    The primary users of our system are business users that have very basic needs – reports with real-time data, a dashboard that tracks the 4-5 metrics they care about, and some drill down/analysis capabilities. While we have more sophisticated capabilities and configurations, these can all be hidden by the administrator so as not to overwhelm the end user. There is one client we are working with for example that was able to setup their data feed, add their users, create 4-5 frequently accessed reports and a full graphical dashboard for their management team in just a few days. Before, they had an analyst that was manually creating these types of reports every time they were needed.

    Our application also has a low cost of entry – with per-user pricing and base subscriptions starting at just a few hundred dollars a month. This allows organizations to start small before making substantial investments.

  2. Question: How do you help clients use BI to become more competitive themselves?

    Answer: In a general sense it is all about unlocking the information contained in the data they already have. Now that is a pretty general claim – but what is different about our approach is that we focus on getting the information to the person on the front line that can change their behavior or take action. All too often BI implementations give analysts the capabilities to really dig into the data, but something becomes lost on the way to the person that does something with it.

  3. Question: It is a well known challenge/goal to have BI proliferated throughout an organization. How are you being successful in this area?

    Answer: In my experience these types of initiatives often fail because they try to do too much – envisioning that all of their business end-users want all of the complex slicing and dicing capabilities. What we’ve found is that in many cases, the end-users want to look at very specific metrics and/or slices of information, and they don’t want to hunt around to try and find it.

    We’ve had a lot of success with sales organizations in giving each user a pre-configured dashboard that reflects the metrics they care about – the ones they are paid on, and a set of 4-5 reports that they need to do their job. Everything is pre-set and configured for them so they can get in, get the information they need, and get out.

  4. Question: What do you see as the biggest hurdle for SaaS BI or even simply the BI industry?

    Answer: A major hurdle for BI SaaS vendors is that BI is in some way or another, inherently custom. It only really works when integrated with the data, typically from multiple sources, that a company generates. Many of the traditional BI software vendors really just sell toolkits that I.T. departments and/or consultants use to construct a solution. SaaS vendors are really just now trying to find the right mix of static software vs. consulting customizations.

    For the BI space as a whole, the threat from existing players is really cannibalization. The small-mid market has been, for the most part, ignored by major players because the licensing price point necessary to serve this market is too low and would threaten the business from their existing customers. With gaining popularity of SaaS catering to this market at a reasonable price point, there will be a growing threat from smaller companies, in particular SaaS.

  5. Question: What made you start on this business endeavor?

    Answer: We started as a consulting company to the life sciences industry – and what we saw was that sales representatives were overwhelmed with data from different systems, covering different time periods, etc. We saw a real opportunity to distill data from multiple places into actionable information that sales representatives could actually use.

  6. Question: What are three significant benefits SaaS BI and hence onDemandIQ provides customers over traditional BI?


    • Easy to Use & Setup

    • Low entry point with limited risk

    • Few I.T. requirements

  7. Question: Are companies concerned about hosting their data outside the firewall? How do you address concerns in this area?

    Answer: This is usually less of an issue than you would expect. Many of the companies that come to us are already distributing information to business users in various geographies, so the data is already out there in excel spreadsheets on laptops, personal databases and on emails. Having the data hosted in a security facility with proper authentication, access logging, and encryption is a step in the right direction.

  8. Question: You mention wanting to meet "80% out of the box". Care to explain?

    Answer: We provide many of the high-value BI capabilities that small-mid sized companies desire – such as ad-hoc reporting, dashboards, and simple analytics out of the box. We have a generic, flexible data model for data such as sales transactions, accounts, and activities that can model many different types of data sets and provide a whole host of custom metrics. Most of our clients are sales organizations, retail, or manufacturing.

    While taking this more generic approach allows us to offer a more cost-effective and easy to setup solution to a wide range of customers, it does mean that we might not be a fit for clients with very specific and unique needs.

  9. Question: Where do you see onDemandIQ going into the future with the SaaS model?

    Answer: I think for us, and for the industry as a whole, you will see a blending of the lines between what is software and what is service. In most cases the ‘Problem’ that BI is solving is a lack of access to information and that requires two parts – access and analysis. While we address the first part of the problem, we only partially solve the analysis piece by providing tools that people can use. There is still a missing piece that requires a human element for more sophisticated analysis.

    For example, for clients in the Life Sciences vertical we have taken on the role of an outsourced analyst function, providing services in the areas of forecasting, compensation, and more advanced analytics. It is all about solving the problem, and the mechanics really don’t matter.

  10. Question: Excellent talking with you Steven. Do you have any additional links or information about onDemandIQ you want to share?

    Answer: Sure – I’d suggest the following links:

    Article: Hosted BI: New Options for Small-Medium Businesses


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