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Hosted Business Intelligence for Small-Medium Businesses
New options for SMBs

by Steven Schneider, President, www.ondemandiq.comMonday, June 04, 2007

Hosted Business Intelligence for Small-Medium Businesses

Hosted Business Intelligence is an exciting new option that allows small-to-medium businesses to obtain high-value dashboard, reporting, and analytics capabilities.

Hosted Business Intelligence delivers robust capabilities to small and medium sized business (SMBs) that lack the I.T. infrastructure and budget for traditional reporting tools, but still have the need to put critical business information in the hands of decision makers. Historically, these companies have faced a difficult decision between expensive and risky business intelligence projects or complicated home-grown solutions. With the advent of new hosted reporting offerings, small-to-medium enterprises now have an option that may meet the majority of their requirements at a fraction of the cost.

Challenge

SMBs encounter many of the same challenges as larger companies in ‘unlocking’ information from the data they collect, yet lack cost-effective solutions. Some challenges they encounter include:

  • Data is collected and stored in multiple systems, requiring users to access different systems to get the information they need. Worse, often it is difficult to see relationships between activities that may be occurring in one department that effect another.
  • Users that can most benefit from information often lack timely access and are unable to take action as a result.
  • Management cannot quickly identify opportunities or challenges, as they receive reports on a monthly or quarterly basis. They must often also rely on an analyst to slice and dice data to uncover relationships or identify problem areas.

Information Technology management, when presented with these problems, quickly discover that traditional business intelligence tools require significant development resources, high capital costs, and risk. Often, even packages tailored to SMBs cost tens-of-thousands of dollars in licenses alone. As a result, SMBs end up relying on multi-purpose tools such as Microsoft Excel and custom developed applications to meet their needs.

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Discussion:

Ben Finkel said:

Steven,

Good write up.

Another point is that hosted solutions have become a much more viable option these days due to the technology catching up. Networking doesn't incur nearly the costs it used to, and technologies like .NET, XML, and AJAX allow you to provide hosted services without expensive third-party licenses like Citrix.

Steven Schneider said:

The cost of development has declined substantially, in part due to the over-investment of the late 90's.

There is a real transformation occurring, with large players in the BI and related spaces struggling to maintain their expensive licensing models. I suspect that one of the reasons you see very poor/limited offerings from established players is that they are concerned about cannibalizing their existing revenue sources.

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