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Posted by Boris Evelson on January 26, 2010
Slowly but surely, with lots of criticism and skepticism, the business intelligence (BI) software-as-a-service (SaaS) market is gaining ground. It's a road full of peril — at least two BI SaaS startups have failed this year — but what software market segment has not seen its share of failures? Although I do not see a stampede to replace traditional BI applications with SaaS alternatives in the near future, BI SaaS does have a few legitimate use cases even today, such as complementary BI, in coexistence with traditional BI, BI workspaces, and BI for small and some midsize businesses.
In our latest BI SaaS research report we recommend the following structured approach to see if BI SaaS is right for you and if you are ready for BI SaaS:
First we identified 5 following BI SaaS use cases.
Then we analyzed the types of criteria which determine whether BI SaaS is a right or a wrong fit in your specific situation:
Now on to vendor selection. You have two basic choices: your traditional BI vendors that are adopting their current product offerings to work in the cloud (not an easy task), or new specialized vendors offering BI products natively architected and built to operation in the cloud. The first sensible step for anyone seeking a BI SaaS solution is to check with their enterprise BI vendor on their SaaS offering. With a few exceptions, however, you may be quite disappointed. Most of the leading BI vendors are still playing mainly in the hosting (equivalent to Forrester SaaS maturitylevel 2) rather than in a true SaaS field. Specifically:
If these BI SaaS options from large vendors seem skimpy, your impression is correct. That's precisely why there's a plethora of small BI vendors addressing the need and the opportunity in the market left largely unaddressed by the mainstream BI vendors. The list is long and changes every few months based on newcomers and — yes, indeed — failures. Forrester compiled a long list that includes 1010data, Acsellerate Solutions, Analytix On Demand, Bime, Birst, Cloud9 Analytics, FusionOps, GoodData, Indicee, In2Clouds, Kognitio, myDIALS, Oco, Panorama Software, PivotLink, Rosslyn Analytics, SpatialKey, SRC, youcalc, and ZOHO.
Considering such a long and, as we mentioned, constantly changing list, how do you zero in on a winner? We offer a 3 step approach:
Yes, the appeal of a BI SaaS application may be irresistible: You can subscribe and deploy it today, you don't need to go through the capital expenditure approval process, and you can even sometimes bypass cumbersome internal IT standards and protocols. Additionally, BI SaaS applications provide the instant BI workspace so desperately needed by power users and power analysts. But, unquestionably, there are risks, so we strongly recommend the following risk mitigation steps and strategies:
I predict that BI SaaS adoption and market size will continue to grow for two main reasons. First, the lightning speed with which business, regulatory, and globalization requirements change can no longer be supported by traditional, often less-than-agile BI architectures. Forrester believes that BI SaaS coexistence case fits very well to support such requirement. Second, the availability of relational DBMS in public clouds will make it easier for vendors, IT architects, and application designers to move their own BI apps into the cloud.
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