Dashboard Insight recently spoke with PivotLink's Dyke Hensen about his cloud-based SaaS BI solution, its future, and why he thinks traditional BI has failed end users.
Dashboard Insight: Tell us about the history of PivotLink.
Dyke Hensen: PivotLink was founded in Seattle, WA in 1998 and is headquartered in San Francisco, CA. Backed by leading venture firms Emergence Capital Partners, Trident Capital and StarVest Partners, PivotLink was built from the ground up by SaaS and BI industry visionaries and veterans. PivotLink’s management team brings a wealth of start-up and mature company experience from Postini (now Google), Hyperion (now Oracle), SPSS (signed a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by IBM), SAP, OutlookSoft (now SAP) and Cambridge Technology Partners.
PivotLink was founded by Ching Wan, who previously led strategic data warehousing initiatives as a senior architect at Cambridge Technology Partners. He started PivotLink based on the simple, powerful principle that it should be easy for business users to securely analyze any data, any way they want and share their insights with colleagues and partners, wherever they are. Today, the company is overcoming the limitations of on-premise BI solutions that are wrought with cost, risk and usability challenges.
DI: Where does PivotLink sit on the BI stack?
DH: PivotLink’s solution serves the category of retrieving, aggregating and presenting data. Rather than the traditional approach of buying connectors, ETL software, a BI engine and reporting software, PivotLink offers an end-to-end solution that can be deployed quickly and is an order of magnitude more affordable.
DI: In July you published a press release stating that PivotLink’s cloud-based SaaS BI solution was the de facto standard for business analysis, reporting and dashboarding. Can you tell us more about that?
DH: PivotLink puts affordable and easy-to-use business intelligence and business analytics tools into the hands of business users, empowering them to make better, timelier decisions without burdening IT. Today, PivotLink’s market-leading solutions reach over 15,000 enterprise users.
PivotLink offers a unique approach to helping enterprises overcome the cost, risk and adoption issues associated with on-premise BI. More and more companies are embracing this approach to developing, deploying and maintaining analytic solutions in an easy, reliable and secure way, resulting in faster time to value, increased scalability of users and data, and much lower costs and IT resource requirements. This leads to relevant, timely and profitable decision making – the foundation of great business performance.
DI: In July you announced the appointment of former SAP executive David Vonk as senior vice president of sales and business development. What other changes can we expect to see now that David has joined your management team?
DH: Vonk and other new additions to the management team like SVP of development Bob Kemper - a veteran from PrecisionPoint, SPSS and Hyperion - join a seasoned group of executives who are leading PivotLink’s next stage of growth. They're passionate about helping customers achieve the original promise of BI by delivering technology that is easy to use, delivers actionable business insights and provides rapid value at a much lower price point.
DI: Can you elaborate on PivotLink’s on-demand technology?
DH: PivotLink’s technology helps customers get up and running with BI in days or weeks – allowing them to generate insights and discover answers “on demand.” These solutions foster greater collaboration by powering reporting for business managers within a company as well as allowing them to share secure reports with partners and suppliers. PivotLink also offers an AppExchange-certified solution that Salesforce.com customers can quickly and easily extend with more data sources, for sales and others in the company.
DI: What do you think the future holds for SaaS BI solutions such as PivotLink’s on-demand technology?
DH: The future is very bright for SaaS BI because these applications are designed to be more in line with how people work and make decisions. End-user expectations for how easy and quickly information should be available have changed forever due to Google, Web 2.0 and wildly successful SaaS offerings like Salesforce.com. Dealing with overly complex software designed for a handful of powerful users over long, complex and expensive deployment cycles is no longer acceptable and does not allow for the rapid decision-making required in today's business environment. The ability for more users to access and analyze more kinds of data is a win-win for any organization. SaaS BI helps companies make better use of their valuable information assets and compete more effectively.
DI: Do you have localized versions of your product offerings?
DH: Yes we do. We have users in Mexico and Asia.
DI: What is the process if someone wants to evaluate your solutions?
DH: PivotLink typically deals with complex enterprise-class BI challenges that span data sources, large data volumes, large numbers of users and complex data visibility rules. The company takes a comprehensive approach to evaluations, beginning with understanding what challenges the organization needs to address, then visualizing the must-have analysis and accessing a sample data set. PivotLink meets with prospects to orient them to the solution and lets them use the system so they can discover how it addresses their pain points, such as large data volume report performance, data security, complex reports and more.
DI: What can we expect to see from PivotLink in the coming months?
DH: At PivotLink, we believe that traditional BI has failed the end users. A solution has to provide self-service for business users, must be secure, and has to unburden IT from mundane tasks so that they can focus on data stewardship. This is essential for any analytic deployment to be successful. In the next few months we will widen the gap between us and our competitors on all these fronts.
For example, we just earned SAS 70 Type II certification for our entire service - not just the data center. Customers love it. Public companies and other organizations with data affected by regulations such as HIPAA and SOX trust the security of their data and have the utmost confidence in the availability of the service, our disaster-recovery procedures and much more.
We already provide robust administrative capabilities through a web-based point-and-click interface that we’ll make available to an even larger audience through self-service capabilities. Many users want enhanced visualization, so we will continue enriching the charting capabilities for complex, large-volume data.
Dyke Hensen has been at the forefront of business intelligence software for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PivotLink, Dyke held several high-level positions at BI companies including SPSS, Hyperion Solutions and Arbor Software. Most recently, during his tenure as senior vice president of marketing at SPSS, Hensen and his team created the predictive analytics category by combining traditional BI with advanced discovery, predictive modeling, and data mining techniques to create a new class of predictive applications. Hensen held several management positions at Arbor Software, a pioneering Silicon Valley BI company that created the “OLAP” market segment. Arbor Software merged with Hyperion Software and was eventually sold to Oracle Corp. for more than $3 billion. After the merger, Hensen was promoted to chief product officer at Hyperion Solutions, where his teams were responsible for product development and product marketing. Hensen helped grow the company to more than $650 million in annual revenues.
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