Simple and affordable business intelligence is real

The traditional business intelligence (BI) environment has become bogged down with high-ticket prices, delayed deployments, failed integrations and slow responses to BI requests, and frankly, has lacked any real new innovative ideas for a long time. This begs the question—does simple and affordable business intelligence even exist?

Shaking things up

This poor reputation has preceded the BI industry’s advance into the small and mid-size business sector which now has a vast population of sceptics and non-believers, who expound the “BI as an oxymoron” argument whenever they are confronted by BI vendors. The industry needs some fresh new angles and there are a number of smaller niche players that are forging the way ahead and disrupting the staid old business models of the big guns that have traditionally dominated this space, threatening to bring fundamental change to the industry.

It’s true, Business Intelligence can be simple, affordable and more importantly, relevant, for the mid-size market—because that’s what they want.

I have to agree that the biggest problem with BI vendors has been the BI vendors themselves, and their collective inaudibility to hear the market demands of a different client profile, in a different market altogether. An outdated view that the end user in this new target market is simply too unsophisticated to understand the multitude of 3 to 5 letter acronyms required to successfully conclude a system integration, and therefore should be ignored because they simply never have, and never, will grasp the concepts.

It’s a whole new marketplace

Traditional BI vendors are now applying big-ticket thinking to small-ticket business—high volume and low margin being a largely foreign concept to their business models. They also continue to apply complex solution stacks to very simple business requirements because they carry the burden of expensive consultants who only know time and billing principles learned in the corporate sector. This lack of empathy with the business requirements, and inability to offer price points more applicable to the SME budget is not sustainable and change is imminent.

The next generation of BI companies is making huge strides in delivering real-time, simple and affordable BI, armed with simple, pre-packaged reporting solutions, targeted at frustrated end users and which carry ticket prices driven by realistic customer focused pricing policies.

They have identified the market, understand the solution requirements implicitly, and have cutting edge solutions built on a new Web 2.0 wave—amongst others ushering in the future of Software as a Service and the powerful reach and deployment possibilities that this represents in the mid-size BI space. Their pioneering solutions have a far better probability of succeeding in this space, and their edge is simply that they’ve grown up with SME “thinking” – it’s in their blood.

Going back to basics

They are more nimble to accurately respond to market demands in this space and go back to the basics. They use Excel as a major “ice breaker” as it immediately looks familiar to the SME business, but they can also deliver rapid and significant, solution-driven returns on investment. The evidence is apparent in successful symbiotic relationships that exist between, for example, a successful Accounting software vendor and a mid-sized focused niche BI player. On the one hand, a vendor that understands accounting for SME’s but doesn’t understand how to truly create BI value for their end users, and on the other hand, a BI vendor that has a demonstrable pedigree in the SME market, and which offers a solution that adds immeasurable value to business partners and clients of the vendor and drives BI growth into the customer base. A real and tangible example of a winning SME BI strategy.

Untold opportunity is rife in the SME BI space globally, and the big guys will do well to integrate their traditional models into this space. Potentially, they just carry too much baggage to wade down into this space and won’t find the returns as attractive as they have been accustomed to in the past. However, the end user will need to look past the regular suspects and seek out a vendor that might not have the same history or reputation as those that have gone before, but they certainly know the market.

The future is here and it belongs to those BI vendors that are first to bring disruptive, unique and refreshing change to a BI environment – these vendors are in our midst today.