Question On BI Total Cost Of Ownership

Boris Evelson

I need your help. I am conducting research into business intelligence (BI) software prices: averages, differences between license and subscription deals, differences between small and large vendor offerings, etc. In order to help our clients look beyond just the software pricese and consider the fully loaded total cost of ownership, I also want to throw in service and hardware costs (I already have data on annual maintenance and initial training costs). I’ve been in this market long enough to understand that the only correct answer is “It depends” — on the levels of data complexity, data cleanliness, use cases, and many other factors. But, if I could pin you down to a ballpark formula for budgeting and estimation purposes, what would that be? Here are my initial thoughts — based on experience, other relevant research, etc.

  • Initial hardware as a percentage of software cost = 33% to 50%
  • Ongoing hardware maintenance = 20% of the initial hardware cost
  • Initial design, build, implementation of services. Our rule of thumb has always been 300% to 700%, but that obviously varies by deal sizes. So here’s what I came up with:
    • Less than $100,000 in software = 100% in services
    • $100,000 to $500,000 in software = 300% in services
    • $500,000 to $2 million in software = 200% in services
    • $2 million to $10 million in software = 50% in services
    • More than $10 million in software = 25% in services
  • Then 20% of the initial software cost for ongoing maintenance, enhancements, and support

Thoughts? Again, I am  not looking for “it depends” answers, but rather for some numbers and ranges based on your experience.

The Business Architect Cometh

John R. Rymer

[Forrester Principal Analyst Alexander Peters, PhD. and I collaborated on this research.]

You may have heard the term "business architect" in your travels; if you haven't, you soon will. A significant number of our clients are searching for these new leaders. Broadly, BAs are responsible for developing and managing an organization's business model and business technology (BT) agenda. The business architect fills the gap between business management and IT management. One way to bridge the gap is to make it someone's responsibility to do so.

In our research, we spoke to individuals occupying this crucial role in a large European agency, a large financial services firm, a regional healthcare provider, a diversified energy provider, and a logistics firm. The need for BAs is most acute in organizations that are in the midst of transforming their businesses and information systems.

The need for business architects is manifest, but what's less apparent to these firms is how this role should be structured, who should occupy it, and what a BA's responsibilities should be (as illustrated by wide variations in job ads for the position). In our research, we found two established models for the BA role:

Read more

BI Vendors Have To Eat Their Own Dog Food

Boris Evelson

Would you trust a car salesman who’s not driving the type of car he’s trying to sell you? Would you trust a nutritionist or a dietitian who’s not in a good shape? Probably not. There are two things that I suggest we all ask of BI vendors. Ask if they:

  • Use their own BI tools to run their company. Next time you interview a BI vendor, ask for a proof that their own CxOs and all other strategic and tactical decision-makers are using their own tools. I know of some cases where they don’t. How can a vendor convince you to buy its solutions if it hasn’t convinced its own people?
  • Adhere to the same best practices they suggest you implement using their tools/solutions. Transparency is one of them. One of the top use cases for enterprise BI is transparency: full visibility into companies processes, people, policies, rules, and transactions.
Read more

Standalone Knowledge Management Is Dead With Oracle's Announcement To Acquire InQuira

Kate Leggett

Its exciting news to see Oracle announce its intention to acquire InQuira. We have been waiting for this news for a long time. The reasons are multifold:

  • Today’s contact center ecosystem is complex, and comprised of multiple vendors who provide the critical software components. Read my blog post on what these critical software components are. Customers are looking for a simpler technology ecosystem to manage from both a systems perspective and a contractual perspective.
  • Suite solutions, available from unified communications (UC), CRM, and workforce optimization (WFO) vendors, are evolving and include comprehensive feature sets. These vendors have either built these capabilities out or acquired them via M&A activity. And we expect more M&A to happen.
Read more

Agile Business Intelligence Solution Centers Are More Than Just Competency Centers

Boris Evelson

By Boris Evelson and Rob Karel

Our latest BI solution center (BISC, which in our definition is more than a BICC/BI COE) report is now live on the Forrester website. Here’s a brief summary.

Forrester firmly believes that tried and true best practices for enterprise software development and support just don’t work for business intelligence (BI). Earlier-generation BI support centers — organized along the same lines as support centers for all other enterprise software — fall short when it comes to taking BI’s peculiarities into account. These unique BI requirements include less reliance on the traditional software development life cycle (SDLC) and project planning and more emphasis on reacting to the constant change of business requirements. Forrester recommends structuring your BISC along somewhat different lines than traditional technical support organizations.

Earlier-generation BI support organizations are less than effective because they often

  • Put IT in charge
  • Remain IT-centric
  • Continue to be mostly project-based
  • Focus too much on functional reporting capabilities but ignore the data
Read more

Verint + Vovici: Another Example Of Market Consolidation In The Contact Center Space

Kate Leggett

Contact centers for customer service are a nightmare in terms of the complexity of the technologies. At a high level, to serve your customers, you need to:

  1. Capture the inquiry, which can come in over the phone, electronically via email, chat, or SMS, and over social channels, like Twitter, Facebook, or an interaction escalated from a discussion forum.
  2. Route the inquiry to the right customer agent pool to address it.
  3. Create a case for the inquiry that contains its details and associate it with the customer record.
  4. Find the answer to the inquiry; this can involve digging through different information sources like knowledge bases, billing systems, and ordering databases.
  5. Communicate the answer to the inquiry to the customer.
  6. Append case notes to the case summarizing its resolution, and close the case.

You want to make sure that your agents deliver answers in a consistent way and to make it easy for your customers to find answers themselves. To do this, you need to invest in:

  • A knowledge base for your agents. You also need to then expose a subset of the content to your customers via a web self-service portal.
  • A discussion forum where your customers can share information and escalate issues to a customer service agent.
  • Some type of process guidance to lead agents through complicated scripts so that they deliver service in a reproducible way.

You also need to understand what expectations your customer base has regarding your service offering by:

  • Surveying your customers
  • Listening to their sentiments on social media sites
Read more

A Consistent Customer Experience Requires Consistency In Managing Voice, Electronic, And Social Interactions

Kate Leggett

Customers expect the same experience every time they interact with a company — whether it be when researching a product, completing a sales transaction, or getting customer service — over all the communication channels that a company offers. They also expect companies to have an understanding of their past purchase history and prior interactions. Finally, customers further expect that each interaction with a company adds value to their prior interactions so that, for example, they do not have to repeat themselves to a customer service agent when being transferred or when migrating from one communication channel to another during a multistep interaction.

How many companies can deliver a consistent service experience in this scenario?

Three fundamental elements are needed to deliver a consistent customer experience across all communication channels:

  • A unified communications model. Companies need to queue, route, and work on every interaction over all communication channels in the same manner, following the company business processes that uphold its brand.
  • A unified view of the customer. Each agent needs to have a full view of all interactions that a customer has had over all supported communication channels so that the agent can build on the information and experience that has already been communicated to the customer.
  • Unified knowledge and data. Agents need to have access to the same knowledge and the same data across all communication channels so that they can communicate the same story to their customers.
Read more

Stop Wasting Money On WebLogic, WebSphere, And JBoss Application Servers

Mike Gualtieri

Use Apache Tomcat. It is free.

I don’t understand why firms spend millions of dollars on Java application servers like Oracle Weblogic or IBM WebSphere Application Server. I get why firms spend money on Red Hat JBoss -- they want to spend less on application servers. But, why spend anything at all? Apache Tomcat will satisfy the deployment requirements of most Java web applications.

Your Java Web Applications Need A Safe, Fast Place To Run

Most Java applications don’t need a fancy container that has umpteen features. Do you want to pay for a car that has windshield wipers on the headlights? (I wish I could afford it.) Most Java applications do not need these luxuriant features or can be designed not to need them. Many firms do, in fact, deploy enterprise-class Java web applications on Apache Tomcat. It works. It is cheap. It can save tons of dough.

Expensive Java Application Servers Sometimes Add Value

There is a need for luxury. But, you probably don’t need it to provide reliable, performant, and scalable Java web applications. Application server vendors will argue that:

  • You need an application container that supports EJBs. EJB3 fixed the original EJB debacle, but why bother? Use Spring, and you don’t need an EJB-compliant container. Many applications don’t even need Spring. EJBs are not needed to create scalable or reliable applications.
Read more

Future Of Business Rules Platforms: Events And Decision Management

John R. Rymer

Business rules platforms are a mature technology for automating decision and policy logic and for managing fast changes to that logic to keep up with business changes. Now customers are seeking more: capabilities allowing them to employ business rules to help detect and respond to business events hiding in streams of data and to automate decision life cycles. This research reveals how well vendors are responding to these new requirements.

Application development and delivery (AD&D) pros are taking business rules platforms in two new directions. The technology's future will be determined in large part by whether or not customers can successfully apply it to business event processing and decision life-cycle management.

Business event processing applications answer the question "What activities are happening in the business now that I need to know about?" by searching for patterns and values within several streams of actively flowing data. The streams almost always represent information about the real world, such as customer activity in a casino, stock prices fluctuating in real time, or the location of transportation vehicles and the goods they carry. AD&D professionals often build business-events applications using complex event processing (CEP) platforms — some of which use rules to define event patterns. Other AD&D professionals use business rules platforms to build business-events applications. These overlapping uses set the stage for the convergence of CEP and business rules platforms.

Read more

Business Rules Platforms 2011: 3 Vendors Have Strongest Positions

John R. Rymer

After two years of vendor consolidation, which are the best business rules platforms for application development and delivery professionals to consider? In our judgment, based on growth rates, market presence, strength of product, and client interest, three vendors have risen to the leadership positions in this market, with two others coming on strong. IBM's ILOG has the strongest market position, but a surprising new alternative has gained strong initiative, and a one-time leader has lost momentum.

Although many application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals have experience implementing business rules platforms, Forrester's AD&D team has been receiving a continual flow of inquiries on this topic that suggests that clients want to know how the vendor landscape is changing and how those changes affect product choices. In fact, before evaluating a vendor's product features, clients consider the vendor's market momentum and the size of its customer base.

Our conclusion: The choices in business rules products have in fact changed, because the vendors have consolidated, expanded, and/or retrenched. Here is a picture of those changes:

As a result, the number of leading products has declined since we last evaluated business rules platforms. Some business rules vendors have expanded into other product categories. As a result, the decision to choose these vendors for a business rules product is more complex because business rules management is no longer their primary focus or their product sets include additional capabilities not directly related to business rules management. Within this category, there are:

Read more