I have been following the Business Intelligence space for many years now. One of the most profound changes leading innovation in the sector has been what I call the “democratization of BI.” To me, the internet has leveled the playing field for technology vendors in many ways. Not just go-to-market strategies, but also leveraging the web as a universal access point to what were once applications held in Ivory Towers.
Years ago, access to analytics or BI applications were hoarded over by business analysts and IT staff: getting a new report written and executed took forever. But the web, and the next generation of applications coming out in the BI space based on leading web concepts, has changed all this. Now, more people in the organization can use simpler, yet powerful BI tools to access, massage and gain insight from CRM and other data sources.
One company riding this wave in a big way is Entrinsik. They have a set of web reporting tools that really plays into this evolution I have been following in the data reporting space, and have designed the tools for real business uses. I talked with their CEO Doug Leupen about some of these trends, and how he sees this affecting modern CRM apps.
What is missing, from a reporting standpoint, from most CRM systems today?
Most CRM’s do not offer an end-user intuitive reporting option that on an ad hoc basis allows end users to easily navigate among related tables, easily create a meaningful report with real-time data; and provide that necessary analytics and charting functions to successfully be more productive in their job. This is the role Informer plays.
What are the end-user benefits to a combined web-based CRM and reporting solution?
Some of the benefits Informer customers have uncovered are: Gaining the right real-time data when they need it; really using a tool like Informer to find the right leads that need attention then linking them back to the Sugar page or record to make the contact – using this information for actionable intelligence. Also, gaining management oversight over sales and missed opportunities is a big issue.
Many organizations are using Informer’s live-Excel feature to selectively find the right prospects for e-mail blasts, mail-merges, or other automated processes. Also, with web reporting tools it is easier to improve the quality of the data in your CRM system by allowing operational people, often responsible for entering data, to also use the data in their day to day job.
How has the web changed the nature of “Business Intelligence” as a concept?
The web has several positive impacts. It has allowed users to use a familiar and user friendly interface to access information. Also, it has moved the delivery of the data to any location that can access the Web which makes information sharing a lot easier among co-workers or whole departments. And it has created a de facto interface standard for data delivery that allows software developers to extend with new functions and features making the Web a richer interface every day.
Is cloud doing more or less the same thing as SaaS when it comes to BI?
Yes, especially for a Web based application. Buzzwords aside, the real benefit here is that the web is providing great value and greater access to important data once locked inside your systems.