Business intelligence (BI) is no longer the preserve of multinational corporations. But there are technical considerations for resellers looking to capitalise.
Once it was the case that the bigger the enterprise the more data it would create and have to store, manage and analyse. However, the ongoing economic uncertainty has put SMBs under even more pressure than their larger counterparts.
SMBs have many options for BI without breaking the bank, but many have no formal BI programme in place. And SMBs often turn to their trusted IT resellers for a tailored, industry-specific solution.
However, a BI channel sale can be far from straightforward. As with any IT sale, there is a need to factor in consultation time to ensure any rollout can meet the customer’s changing needs, both in the short and long term.
Preparing legacy system data for a BI deployment – extraction, transformation and load (ETL) – is crucial and can add significant time and cost.
Resellers should thoroughly evaluate the BI tools they decide to offer, as the ETL process may end up costing them more than initially projected. The latest offerings feature glossy dashboards, automated alerts and speedo-like gauges, which all look great and make for an easy sell.
Enterprise BI tools may require IT staff to manage the ETL processes before building bespoke queries every time a business user wants to trawl the data. Many BI systems are not written for business users, which can trip up the sale – especially to customers where IT support infrastructure is minimal.
The difficulty of the ETL phase in any BI rollout should be just as important a consideration for the reseller as licence cost, the range of ERP and CRM systems the BI tool supports, or usability.
Older BI systems are typically rather complex, so learning the new software and the various installation processes it requires has been a major inhibitor – regardless of how much more value these systems now offer the end user.
Thankfully, the industry is responding to this problem. I believe the new generation of BI technology is simpler, easier to use and to fit neatly within the end user environment – regardless of the data warehouse it taps into, individual requirements, or company size.
Through careful product evaluation and selection, resellers can now better assess the ETL process of modern BI systems in advance. In doing so, their BI offering is more likely to provide them with a profitable additional revenue stream from day one.
Paul Magee is managing director at Phocas
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