A few months ago, I wrote an article about the relationships between business intelligence platform vendors and their distribution networks, and where these relationships are headed.
The key message in that article was that Value-Added Resellers (VARs) must understand that self-service business intelligence is where the market is headed – and adjust their business models accordingly. A company selling BI solutions based on another company’s BI platform will need to provide real added value to the customer in order to stay in business. In the not-too-distant future, this value will almost certainly come from industry-specific professional knowledge and experience (as opposed to purely technical expertise). More and more potential customers will no longer accept lengthy projects and, with the new software and technologies now emerging, it is no longer justifiable.
Winds of Change
The Israeli BI market (‘the Pond’, as it is referred to by the locals) is a good example of how the BI market looks like in most parts of the world. It’s packed with BI companies that are in fact service and/or placement shops and are forced, by their own out-dated business models, to sell to a just handful of high end companies (by Israeli standards). That, and the lack of decent tools, has just made it impossible for the market to evolve. It just amazes me that in the 21st century, a few patched up software components are used to sell ridiculously long projects that end up in nothing, taking yet another bite out of the BI industry’s credibility.
Yotam Aharonson, the CEO of New AspeQt – a known and respected BI integrator in Israel – recently published an article in local Israel media which finally made me feel like things are starting to change. In my excitement, I had it translated to English and posted below (the original Hebrew version can be found here).
I believe it stands for itself as an explanation and an argument.
By Yotam Aharonson, New AspeQt
The King has No Clothes
In a world accustomed to thinking in terms of long and expensive projects, complex licensing models and long-term temporary employee placement, new voices are now being heard. System integrator New AspeQt has set a mission to itself – to bring into the Israeli market an insight that has already spread to quite a few markets around the world: there is a different way!
New AspeQt believes that the only way to deploy “business intelligence” in an organization, such that it will be possible to adapt to ever-changing information and business needs, is by enabling the organization to create and manage its own reporting and analysis facilities, while reducing dependence on external consultants. The combination of a system integration company that understands the value of this new approach, together with a BI platform that enables simple and flexible implementation, is a revolution in itself! (New AspeQt has found that the Prism BI application from SiSense is most suitable for this challenge.) For the first time, control is transferred into the hands of the customer from the very beginning of the process and remains there throughout.
Trapped in the Clutches of BI System Integrators
It would seem that for a BI system integrator to espouse self-service BI would be to shoot itself in the foot, or at least to harm its basic interests, namely, to sell work hours, the bread and butter of any system integrator. New AspeQt has a different perspective: While most integrators have, in fact, become employee placement companies which provide skilled BI workers to work at their customers’ sites, New AspeQt sees itself as a young and dynamic company which serves as a skilled in-and-out “commando”: New AspeQt transfers the required knowledge to the client’s employees, along with professional guidance, to quickly bring the client to full BI independence.
Many organizations evaluating the implementation of a BI solution mistakenly think that BI is a finite project. This fundamental misconception can cost a company a lot of money and, more importantly, create a “Gordian knot” of permanent dependency on the system integrator. An organization’s information and data needs in the business world are constantly growing and changing. Given this reality, dependence on an external provider will, at best, lead to ever-growing and accumulating expenditures. At worst, in an attempt to reduce these expenses, the organization may simply avoid further development and essentially lose their “business intelligence” edge.
If it Works for Yahoo and Cisco, Why Not for Me?
Many organizations in Israel and around the world have already chosen the do-it-yourself BI solution from Israeli software vendor SiSense. For a significant number of these customers, the person implementing the system was not even in the company’s IT department, but rather among the “BI consumers” themselves, such as marketing, operations or finance. All of these customers tried the software and its self-service method for a month with no up-front expense. They realized that the software’s promise is not just a marketing slogan, but a genuine reality. When the information consumer builds his own solution himself, there’s no chance that the solution will not fit his needs!
The author is CEO and founder of New AspeQt BI, Ltd.