Mark Flaherty (MF): Part of the challenge with performance management is that sometimes it gets hung up in the department of finance, yet it really applies more broadly in the enterprise. Most organizations haven’t gotten there, yet. Some have applied it to operations.
Some have gone beyond just the financial indicators of an organization. So that’s a big thing being able to do that, but also being able to reconcile the information, or the way you manage the business, the way that we report things, that’s another challenge.
These are things that we can do with today’s technology. But the trend long term for performance management, even business intelligence, for that matter, is allowing us to do more. It’s allowing users to do more for themselves.
Nowadays there's a buzzword for it: self-service BI. Certainly we’re a big proponent of that. But a key is to spend less time within the solution, and get more value. That ends up being the perennial challenge.
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That’s why there is so much left to be done. With other BI solutions, they still require a fair amount of training to get up to speed on them. Therefore companies using them have needed fairly skilled individuals. They have had to invest in training programs to give them the skills. So that is changing somewhat with easier-to-use solutions like ours.
Instead of forcing user to adapt to the technology, we’re trying to make it as intuitive as possible, using point-and-click controls, going heavy with visualization as a means to explore the data, et cetera.
How do you characterize the large software companies that have entered the BI space over the past several years?
You have Oracle, SAP, now Microsoft in one category, the three mammoth vendors. They are trying to sell an entire ecosystem so they’re not just selling performance management. They want to sell you an entire platform. They want to sell you applications. The objective is to own as much of the customer as they possibly can.
And when you go to those vendors, the reason you go to them is not necessarily because they have the best BI technology. You go to them because they are a large vendor, and they are going to be there, or at least you believe they are going to be there for a long time. They have global business practices and pricing, and it just makes it easier to do business with them.
“Flexible product with great training and support. The product has been very useful for quickly creating dashboards and data views. Support and training has always been available to us and quick to respond.
- George R, Information Technology Specialist at Sonepar USA
But there are alternative vendors like InetSoft. Some offer new business models as well as new technologies. That is what makes business intelligence a very vibrant space. Even though there has been a long history of consolidation of pure-play vendors by behemoth ones, it’s a maturing market, not a mature one. So there remains innovation and investment.