BI Software as a Service [SaaS]
The On Demand Business Analytics/SaaS model is being heralded as
'the wave of the future for small to medium size businesses that
do not have large IT budgets. BI tools are regarded as a high price
step up from reporting tools, and in spite of the extremely good
ROI's, many SMB's cannot afford to make the jump.
In recognition of this, vendors are rolling out SaaS versions of
their BI applications. This provides SMBs an immediate ROI through
the accurate view of essential business information that can be
shared easily by their entire organization, regardless of desktop
In addition, this allows businesses to engage with multiple BI
applications, as many decision-makers have found that in-house BI
solutions have not been able to provide single reporting and analysis
solution that allows them respond in real-time to changing conditions.
The basis for such claims have been that traditional BI solutions:
- Process data too slowly
- Do not process all of the organisations data
- Provide a limited view of essential information about daily
- Encourage silos of department information - information is not
shared across the entire company
- No single version of truth - focus on transaction systems and
not on data quality - much of the data is useless
- Expensive - prohibitively expensive and require long implementation
periods [up to two years]
On Demand Business Analytics
On Demand business analytics provide the ability to combine demographic
and behavioral data with sales information in real-time to leverage
customer, vendor, and supplier relationships.
By using hyper-optimized automation processes to cleanse, normalize,
and integrate huge amounts of disparate data from any source, business
data can be aggregated with data from external sources to provide
a real world view.
A key concern about early BI SaaS models was the lack of ability
to update data real time, instead these solutions relied on nightly
updates. Since then, BI vendors such as Pervasive
have developed SaaS integration tools to allow a combination of
data updates [real, batch, overnight].
How BI SaaS Is Deployed
- Data is collected from virtually any source - multiple business
systems, operating systems, or hardware and software platforms
and sent to the hosted service
- Automation processes are used to cleanse, normalize, and integrate
this large volume of disparate data.
- Following the initial data load, customers provide data via
real time integration tools or automatic incremental updates
The entire implementation process requires only minimal time from
IT staff and is completed within weeks, compared to the 12 to 18
months required for traditional BI solutions.
Once the solution is implemented, the users log into a secure Web
site, and in no time are actively using the business intelligence
Reporting and Analysis
On Demand analytics solutions provide a library of pre-built reports
using multidimensional views. Users can interactively configure
their data via drill-down menus so that only relevant data is displayed.
Data can also be sliced and diced and "what-if" scenarios
Information "dashboards" provide executives immediate
access to exception information to identify potential trouble spots
and to act decisively in real-time to correct them.
The "hosted" aspect of On Demand analytics now makes
it possible for organizations to have a continuously accessible
360-degree view of its business.
Evaluating On Demand Analytics Vendors
When evaluating a hosted On Demand business analytics solution,
it is important to consider all aspects of the service - costs,
delivery times, training, support, and user interfaces:
- Delivery - ensure that the vendor can provide
fixed start and end dates for implementation of the solution.
- Resources Required - - what internal resource
allocations are required during the implementation period and
after the project is completed. A successful implementation should
not require extensive IT resources.
- Cost - if the implementation is not bid at
a fixed cost, find out why. Avoid costly open-ended budgets and
implementation periods. There is no justification for either of
these in an On Demand model. The monthly hosting fee should equal
a fixed yearly fee of 15–20 percent of the initial implementation..
As reporting/analytics capabilities are increased, expect a reasonable
increase in hosting fees from the vendor.
- License fees - pay-per-user licensing fees
are less popular as the SaaS market becomes more competitive.
Know the license fee up front, and where possible, select a vendor
with little or no per-user fee. You may find that monthly fees
relating to access and data volume is applied. Ensure the maintenance
fee is covered by the monthly hosting fee.
- Configuration - only select products that are
accessed via a browser-based interface. Old ASP type installations
using client software can be expensive and can potentially be
a drain on IT resources. In addition, they are not designed in
more efficient SOAP and AJAX.
- Roll Out Program - where a browser interface
is used, and where the solution has a well-designed user interface.
very little training is usually required. The solution should
be easy to use and intuitive, promoting rapdi adoption. The vendor
should specify an employee adoption program in its contract for
the initial implementation period.
- Support - like any technology, ensure the vendor
stands by its solution and views customers as partners. There
should be clearly stated benchmarks for customer satisfaction
and recourse if the implementation does not deliver the expected
results. Check for a guarantee of satisfaction after the implementation.
- Proof - after selecting a shortlist of potential
providers, ask these vendors to provide demos and customer references.
On-demand business analytics provides rapid visibility into critical
business conditions, both within and outside of corporate boundaries.
This enables companies to act decisively and produce results that
dramatically increase agility and competitiveness.
Using BI SaaS
On demand solutions are accessed online, making access from anywhere
possible, and in many cases, over multiple devices.
The real advantages of SaaS models is also likely to lead many
larger corporations to access BI tools using this model.
BI SaaS Vendors
As of April 2008, there are more than 20 vendors offering SaaS
in the BI arena. Many of these offer their services to niche markets
e.g. retail, restaurants etc. Larger BI vendors like Business Objects,
Cognos, and SAS Institute are also angling for a slice of this market.
Current vendors offering BI on demand in an SaaS model include:
For a full list of BI
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Clear About BI With This Comprehensive Guide To BI Strategy, Program &
BI Solution Index | Market
| Gartner Eval. |
Comparisons | BI
On Demand | BusinessObjects | Cognos
8 BI | IBM | Information
Builders | MS PerformancePoint
| MS Sharepoint | Microstrategy
| Oracle BI | SAP
BI | SAS |
Teradata | BI Virtual Appliances
| BI Vendor Updates | 2008