|By Elad Israeli||
|December 2, 2010 11:43 AM EST||
If you've begun looking for a business intelligence solution, you probably noticed very quickly that there are quite a few business intelligence vendors out there. Narrowing the overcrowded field of vendors in order to come up with your own business intelligence short list will usually start with a review of the vendors' Websites. Armed with your short list, you can begin contacting vendors to receive proposals.
This article is going to help you discover some key differences between vendors based on what they share on their Websites - and what they don't. Read between the lines while looking at BI vendor Websites to quickly figure out which business intelligence vendors are probably right for you, and which ones aren't.
The Customers Page
Obviously, a business intelligence vendor Website without a page dedicated to featured customers is cause for concern.
Assuming the vendor does indeed have a Customers page, the first thing you should look for is whether the featured customers are big corporations or smaller companies. This is an important distinction because business intelligence solutions for big corporations often have very different functional (and other) requirements than business intelligence for smaller companies. You should focus on vendors which sell to companies like the one for which you're seeking a solution. If you need BI for an SMB, a business intelligence vendor that only lists Fortune 500 corporations on their Customers page probably won't fit your needs. Their solutions are probably too complicated and/or expensive. Similarly, if you need BI for a large corporation and the business intelligence vendor only lists SMB customers, the solution may not deliver the functionality, performance or scalability you need.
The second thing you should look for is whether you recognize any of the customers listed on this page. Having recognizable names says a lot about the credibility of the business intelligence vendor. Well-known companies with recognizable brand names do not trust their business operations to just anyone. A business intelligence vendor with recognizable names on its Customers page is less likely to disappoint you than a company listing only unknown names.
The Case Studies Page
Reviewing the case studies on a vendor’s Website is a good way to determine whether the solutions the vendor provides were implemented in business scenarios that resemble your own. Most vendors should include at least a few case studies on their site.
It’s important to note whether the solution has been implemented in companies within the same industry as yours. Different industries will share many common needs, but there will also be special needs and requirements unique to each one.
Another important thing to look for is whether the solution is being used in the same way you’d like to be using your business intelligence solution. There are several types of business intelligence solutions available – some are used more for reporting and some more for analytics. Some are maintained primarily by IT and some are designed for more hands-on use by business professionals. Case studies help you determine whether the solution can meet your goals and whether it can be used by the people you intend to use it.
The Partners Page
The Partners page is a great place in which to gather information about the vendor. You may think that the Partners page is mainly used for finding representatives in your own region, but there is a lot more you can tell about a vendor from this page.
One thing you should look at is whether the vendor has a long list of service integrators listed as partners. This is important because it says a lot about how difficult the solution may be to implement.
While software vendors prefer to sell software licenses, service integrators typically make most of their revenue from projects they execute, charging by the hour or by the day. When a business intelligence vendor has a long list of service integrators as partners, it usually means that the solution they sell is a challenge to implement and/or requires extensive on-going maintenance and consulting. Otherwise, the service integrators wouldn’t see much business value from working with that vendor.
The second thing you should look for on the Partners page is whether the vendor has multiple software/technology vendors listed as partners. Typical business intelligence applications require several tools and technologies to be fully implemented, and when a vendor lists technology/software partners, it usually means they only provide a portion of the business intelligence stack themselves.
The Free Trial Download Page
Even though free trial downloads are commonly found in the software industry, they are not commonly found in BI vendor Websites.
There are two major reasons for this. The first is that 99% of the business intelligence vendors out there are not software providers, but rather service providers. As opposed to selling products, they partner with existing software/technology vendors to use their products as building blocks for implementing custom solutions.
** Originally posted on The ElastiCube Chronicles blog.
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