Thursday, October 18

BI in just 24 hours

What I've always liked about the offering was the ease in which a person or company could start using CRM software - "pure" SaaS. You could use CRM without even talking to a salesperson or IT person -- sign up, load your contact data and start using CRM.

Can BI be done in the same way? From my experience in multiple industries with SMEs to large government departments, the business of analysis and gauging performance really isn't... well, that different. Ironically though, people usually feel their business is unique until you open their eyes to the similarities.

So where is an equivalent "pure" SaaS offering for BI?

Aaron Burnett recently shared with me how SeaTab picked up $9M in second round funding muchly based on their innovative approach to BI and PivotLink Now -- their "pure" SaaS suite of BI tools.

Their innovative approach brings the "full power of Pivotlink BI to customers in 24 hours". They are hoping the price point is disruptive to the marketplace. And they impress with their proprietary technology querying billions of rows in less than 5 seconds.

Even if you're only slightly intrigued you may want to check out their online, live demo (use the Test Drive link). I like that you can test drive the tools with actual information. No flashy sales videos. Real hands on test drive. I'll leave the review and impression of their tools in your hands.

The BI industry is changing in many ways with cookie cutter "pure" SaaS BI and significant acquisitions to make this a changing landscape -- far from the old Decision Support System days.

This begs a question in my mind. Where is the next big innovative, paradim shifting, Web 2.0, BI 2.0, multi-billion dollar valuation going to come from within BI?

Wednesday, October 17

Transform your carbon emissions

I was in an airport recently listening to this guy ranting about how air travel, and hence capitalism, was so bad for the environment. Did he know he was in an international terminal drinking a Starbucks coffee? I was tempted to point out the obvious and ask why he was flying. But there is just no reasoning with people like that.

Then this week Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts towards planetary climate change.

Then yesterday, Laura Wang, Editor and Chief Architect of Business Object's Insight collaboration community, spoke with me about their Carbon Offset Challenge and user conference on this week.

Three times in a short period couldn't be a coincidence.

My point is, have you ever been to a conference and flown or drove hundreds of miles along with hundreds and thousands of others? Sure. However you probably haven't thought of carbon emissions produced from everyone traveling -- me either.

Laura was at Insight's Orlando conference yesterday where Business Objects paid to offset attendee carbon dioxide emissions from traveling. They did this by purchasing Green Tags from Bonneville Environmental Foundation using a formula:
  • Number of miles flown multiplied by 1.36 = Number of lbs. of CO2 emitted
  • 1400 lbs of CO2 emitted = One Green Tag

Then you take the total number of attendees and mode of travel. Total miles traveled by all attendees is 3,802,796 miles. Business Objects ended up paying for 3,991 Green Tags. This is equivalent to planting acres of trees nearly the size of Central Park in NYC. Well done!

To put the travel by all attendees to this conference into perspective:

  • Total attendee travel is equivalent to one person traveling around the earth 152 times.
  • Even more striking, the distance from the earth to the moon is 238,712 miles, so attendee travel is equivalent to 8 roundtrips to the moon and back.
We all like our conferences and those corporations (or people), which are environmentally conscious -- or want to make a statement -- can reduce their guilt and support a global problem by purchasing Green Tags. Alternatively, you could take Insight's collaboration community up on their future challenges and contribute your personal time.

Wednesday, October 10

Analysis of your competitors

Being able to monitor the performance of your business is vital. But what is more important is tracking your competitors and how the market is responding to them. You're looking for gaps in their offering, weaknesses and strengths. Anything to give you an edge.

In this day of Web 2.0, collaborative, social-networking, comment-generation, community-controlled content, do you know how your company is fairing in the market? Do you know your website popularity? It would be great knowing whether you are driving more traffic than your competitors, wouldn't it?

Whether you're a vendor trying to build an online community (like BO's Insight) or you want to know the site visited by the most people for BI information (aside from this blog, of course), doing this analysis is challenging especially when you don't know where to start.

Look no further.

Rich McIver sent me this post about "25 Tools to Compile an In-Depth Dossier on a Competitors' Site". This is the most comprehensive list (with descriptions for the less technically savvy people like myself) of analytical websites giving you intelligence on:
  • Who owns a domain name
  • Analyzing website traffic
  • Hosting information
  • Marketing and advertizing spending
  • Trademarks and filings
  • Public relations
  • Finacials
  • Browser compatibility, accessiblity and website security
To test drive this oracle of information, I did a simple website traffic analysis of Business Objects, Cognos, and Hyperion (see the picture at the top of this post) using I'll leave the analysis to yourself.

Tuesday, October 9

BO takeover made public @ 20% premium

The agreed to takeover of Business Objects at a 20% premium or $6.8B by SAP is now public knowledge. The news articles read as per expected; synergies between their companies will benefit customers. Click on the diagram showing how SAP and BO complement each other.

The question is How will they benefit customers?

It has been an acquisition frenzy lately. SAP purchased OutlookSoft (performance mgmt), Pilot Software (analytics), and now Business Objects (suite of tools). Plus BO recently purchased Cartesis (performance mgmt).

And with all this growth, BO has been spending years integrating the original BO package and Crystal engines. Cartesis hasn't been fully integrated prior to this acquisition so the challenge will be how to sensibly pull together four different products into a clear product offering from SAP.

Then take the overlap with SAP's own Business Warehouse product. From my experience BW had difficulties being received by customers -- the takeovers/acquisitions definitely give SAP a strong BI offering for their business process solutions. They should simply replace their Business Warehouse tools completely with tools that work.

Will SAP embed their acquired analytics into their transactional applications?

Perhaps the question is When. You can expect SAP to provide an integrated SAP/BI solution where the new analytics will be embedded within the business process tools. Which is another challenge. Will SAP embed their new BI tools and still offer a separate BI suite of tools? BO, as with the others, are vendor neutral - meaning the tools can sit on a variety of vendor databases.

And with BO's revenues of $1.25B last year, disupting that source of income just to have BI embedded within SAP so you can sell a packaged solution, would be suicide. Unless the management team thinks the world revolves around business process and is unable to see the vendor-neutral potential of BI.

The merging portfolio's of two multi-billion-dollar companies give this takeover huge complications in vision and direction. I'm sure existing Business Objects customers will be watching closely.

Now that leaves Cognos to be purchased by EMC, HP or IBM. Any friendly bets on who takes Cognos to new heights?