Perhaps surprisingly, some of the biggest buyers of business intelligence (BI) software are themselves manufacturers of technology. So why does the need to gain accurate business insights cause software providers such a big headache?
If you run an engineering business that focuses on delivering a specific solution, typically transactional based software, getting involved in building an analytical tool from the ground up is going to be a long hard road. You need a blend of technical skills at your disposal, data architects who know the different technologies that make up and touch your product, as well as an ability to visualise data in an engaging way. On top of this, if you have not got experience in doing this before - you are going to need to buy that skill in and that's not cheap.
The trouble is you know that your customers always want more information. Providing reports on demand can start as a way to enrich the customer experience, and may add some service revenue, but it is fundamentally a distraction from what makes your product shine in the market. You can quickly end up with expensive technical resource, continually trying to satisfy customers’ unquenchable thirst for knowledge. This gets increasingly difficult to keep pace with and customers can quickly become frustrated. Every report answers a question, which prompts another question, which in turn leads to more reports. The worst part is, very little of what is created is usable elsewhere - which is the whole point of having a software company, right? You build it once and sell it as many times as you can; this essentially determines your company’s value.
A simple solution to your problem is to take the ‘Blue Peter approach’ i.e. find one that someone 'made earlier'. Sure it has a cost, but you can get that back time and time again by building dashboards once and re-selling them. The cherry on the top is it makes your customers stickier and they are spending cash with you, not some johnny-come-lately.
The next step for software companies is to choose which business intelligence provider is most able to meet their needs. How to best go about doing this will be covered in upcoming posts on this blog.
Chris Mason - Business Intelligence Specialist, Access Group.