Opinion

Is the channel ready for “next generation” business intelligence users?

While the Business Intelligence (BI) market isn’t new, it is evolving and growing extremely quickly, largely due to a new wave of end-users who are demanding much greater functionality from their BI solution. With “better decision making” and “improved operational efficiency” identified as the most common goals for future BI implementations, and executive management and finance, rather than IT, most likely to drive demand for BI, how can resellers spot and convert this new buyer and capitalise on the predicted $17.1bn BI opportunity?

Resellers know that the BI market is booming; however, the predicted growth will only be fully exploited by channel partners who position themselves to respond to the “next generation” of BI users. Channel partners must revisit their understanding of these end-users and reposition their solution offerings by adopting the best technology partners to meet these new requirements.

After largely failing to deliver on their promises, traditional BI solutions, which are typically both expensive to implement and complex to use, are losing market share to BI dashboards which are simpler, much more user-friendly and meet the needs of the new generation of end-users.

How can you spot the “next generation” BI user and what are their drivers for BI dashboards?

Next generation BI end-users are no longer just senior board members or CEOs. With a focus on using BI solutions that deliver ease-of-use and are fast to implement, these new BI users hold line-of-business responsibility and will be commercially rather than technically-focused. Specifically, they all share a common desire to reduce their reliance on manually-collated management reports and spreadsheets for information analysis and are interested in best-of-breed software which can deliver fast ROI. Therefore, new BI end-users can be categorised as “information users” with responsibility for enhancing organisational performance, reducing costs, improving efficiencies and delivering results.

How do BI dashboards meet the needs of these users?

Unlike traditional enterprise BI users, who were often technically rather than commercially-focussed, business users in every type of organisation are now demanding simple BI dashboards which they can deploy quickly meaning fast ROI and less risk. With the growth of mobile usage across business communities, the mobile platform functionality of dashboards is critical, providing users with instant and real-time access to their organisational data on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. With decision-makers arising from every function and every level within organisations, different user communities are demanding customised views of their existing management data, linked to relevant KPIs for their role, department or service line.

Offering insight into the new end-user motivations, Mark McDerment, group FD at MAMG, comments, “We’d been looking for a more effective way to view and analyse our financial performance with a goal to deliver a visually-rich, at-a-glance perspective of our real-time financial performance. As a result of using Intuitive Dashboards, we now have a consistently reliable and interactive view of key financial metrics, allowing us to focus on using data to drive better performance.”

The driver for a demonstrable ROI is critical to many of the new breed of BI users. As Stinus Andersen, business systems and compliance manager at Morson Group, comments, “Our anticipated annual ROI is over £123,000, which has not only transformed our relationship with existing clients, it has helped us to win new ones.”

How can resellers find their perfect BI partner?

Armed with this insight, resellers must identify the best vendor partner who can deliver an appropriate BI solution which can meet these end-user demands. Firstly, resellers should establish that the BI dashboard solution will complement their existing portfolio, enabling them to differentiate their solution offerings and effectively exploit this market opportunity.

As new generation end-users grow increasingly savvy, any BI dashboard solution offered by a reseller should be state-of-the-art if they are to compete within an increasingly crowded marketplace. As BI is now driven by business rather than technical users, it is important that the dashboard software they sell on is suitable for an increasingly non-technical user, therefore, the software must be intuitive and user-friendly, requiring no coding skills.

Additionally, because business users want a solution which will work efficiently with their existing management systems, allowing them to use drill-down access in order to proactively spot and highlight missing KPIs, resellers must ensure their BI partner can provide effective and functional software that consistently delivers.

Finally, as managers seek to access their critical information “anytime, anywhere”, there is growing demand and increasing prevalence for BI on-the-go. Combined with the widespread adoption of BYOD, the chosen vendor’s solution should support mobile access via iPads, smartphones and tablets.

The dashboard solution is just part of the overall criteria for selecting a partner; it is also important for resellers to consider the support on offer from the vendor. Identifying a partner which offers high levels of training and technical assistance will ensure they can deliver efficient implementation backed up with ongoing technical knowledge and support. Vendors offering sales and marketing support will also ensure the reseller can quickly generate interest through effective and creative campaigns, allowing the reseller to maximise on its partnership through increased sales and revenue.

Finally, resellers should ensure the partner can deliver implementations measured in days rather than months, reducing costs, risk, and impact upon their clients as well as delivering a much faster ROI.  

Two resellers which have realised benefits from their careful selection of a BI partner programme are Advanced Business Solutions (ABS) and Ideagen. Dean Dickinson, managing director at ABS, comments, “This strategic partnership with Intuitive Business Intelligence represents a significant opportunity for ABS to immediately provide our clients with state-of-the-art dashboard solutions that will make them more efficient and productive. We are responding to an increasing demand from our clients for BI dashboards that tightly integrate into their existing management systems."

Les Paul, CTO at Ideagen, adds: “It was critical that our BI partner offered Web-based software which could work seamlessly with our on-premise, cloud or hybrid environments. We are seeing increasing demand for easy-to-access, real-time management dashboards which we are now able to fulfil and consequently, increase revenue for the business.”

With these in mind, canny software resellers and authors can expect to maximise on BI dashboard revenue streams through careful selection of their BI partner, working with them to capitalise upon the growing, but evolving, multi-billion market, communicating the message that BI dashboard solutions are faster, simpler and more mobile than ever before.


Tony Bray is Managing Director of Intuitive Business Intelligence

This was first published in November 2013

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