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Agility in BI: How ISVs Can Close the End-User/IT Gap
Agility in BI: How ISVs Can Close the End-User/IT Gap
Agility in BI: How ISVs Can Close the End-User/IT Gap
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Agility in BI: How ISVs Can Close the End-User/IT Gap

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The demand for interactive, intuitive data access are pushing ISVs to improve their BI feature set. Learn how to close the end-user/IT gap.

The demand for interactive, intuitive data access are pushing ISVs to improve their BI feature set. Learn how to close the end-user/IT gap.

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  • 1. Business White PaperAgility in BI: How ISVs can close the end-user/IT gapThere are a number of individual-oriented trends in the BI industry that are changing the game for ISVs.End users of software applications have become increasingly sophisticated, savvy, demanding andimpatient with data that is often static, stale, or not personalized. These demands for interactive, intuitivedata access are pushing ISVs to improve their BI feature set or lose market share.Agile BI is the term that encompasses all these changes. TDWI defines it this way: “Agile businessintelligence addresses a broad need to enable flexibility by accelerating the time it takes to deliver valuewith BI projects.It can include technology deployment options such as self-service BI, cloud-based BI, and data discoverydashboards that allow users to begin working with data more rapidly and adjust to changing needs.”Copyright © 2012 Actuate Corporation Page 1 of 3
  • 2. Agility in BI: How ISVs can close the end-user/IT gapAs I’m sure you’ve seen first-hand, there are a number of individual-oriented trends in the BI industry that are changing the gamefor ISVs. End users of software applications have become increasingly sophisticated, savvy, demanding and impatient withdata that is often static, stale, or not personalized. These demands for interactive, intuitive data access are pushing ISVs toimprove their BI feature set or lose market share.Agile BI is the term that encompasses all these changes. TDWI defines it this way: “Agile business intelligence addresses abroad need to enable flexibility by accelerating the time it takes to deliver value with BI projects. It can include technologydeployment options such as self-service BI, cloud-based BI, and data discovery dashboards that allow users to beginworking with data more rapidly and adjust to changing needs.”The position of market research firm Forrester Research is that agile BI is not something organizations can “buy” as apackaged solution, but something that comes from adopting agile approaches to the way new capabilities are deployedand made accessible to business users. Indeed, Forrester notes that agile BI is a methodology as well as a technology,designed to “put more intuitive tools in the hands of an ever-increasing audience that needs better decision-makingtools.”Having clarified the term, let’s take a look at some key issues in how Agile BI is creating challenges, and what ISVs can doto close the IT/end-user gap.“Cloud Wars—Platforms, Applications, Big Data” According to IDC’s Software Predictions 2012 Report: “Incremental dollars will more likely go to software or cloud services (moreautomation) than for new hires.” This means that if you as an ISV deliver your solutions in the cloud or as a service, improvingand automating access to key application data via dashboards and customizable reports is of paramount importance. The goodnews is that this feature set can be delivered securely and reliably by implementing Actuate products within your cloud or SaaSinfrastructure, or by tying into our cloud-based BIRT onDemand service, which has full API’s to enable a seamless integration andconsistent look and feel.One of the characteristics of cloud-based architectures, which many organizations are now looking to adopt, is that they supportand encourage much more rapid iterations of products—continual update to environments and applications to keep thefunctionality fresh. All of which points to the need to develop with the latest, standards-based tools—developmentenvironments that allow additional capabilities to be introduced quickly and often—as well as partner with a vendor that offers aproven, multi-tenant and secure SaaS platform.Even more than you have in the past, as ISVs you’ll need to become more deeply involved at the strategic decision-making levelto guide your end-users toward the solutions and vendors best positioned to meet their needs, both now and in the future. ISVsneed to morph farther into the role of BI strategists—both mapping the path and clearing the way for end-users’ journeys intothis “New World of BI.” This will necessitate ISV salespeople learning to sell to departments other than just IT, if they are notalready.Advanced Consumer Devices and AppsConsumers are experiencing seamless, intuitive performance on smart phones and tablets, accessing and interacting withinformation in ways and in places that, even a decade ago, were inconceivable. This personal life experience is raising theirexpectations for accessibility and interactivity—agility in short—in their business lives. Nowhere is this new expectation-setmore evident than in the “New World of BI.” Because of this consumer experience, your BI customers now expect the same levelof intuitive interface, performance-rich features, ease-of-use interactive performance and ability to personalize and access on thefly.This means that you as the ISV must create and integrate solutions that meet this expectation when used by your customers. Thisexperience with agile consumer devices and apps is leading to the emergence of a new category of BI end-user.The emergence of “business developers” as BI end usersNow that they have grown accustomed to the ease of use of many leading Web sites and mobile applications, end-users havebecome impatient with much existing enterprise software and are becoming what we like to call “business developers”. This is anew set of end users in the executive management, sales and marketing and related functions, who would rather find/developtheir own solutions – and are technologically astute enough to do so—than allow their IT departments to dictate what they mustuse for BI. The situation has become more pronounced now that people no longer need a degree in computer science to be ableto circumvent inadequate IT applications and tools, and can readily find on the Internet some of the functionality—in bits andpieces—that they think they need.Copyright © 2012 Actuate Corporation Page 2 of 3
  • 3. Agility in BI: How ISVs can close the end-user/IT gapForrester explores this theme in a recent report, Agile BI: Is It Time to Make the Move?, noting that “the rift between businessrequirements for on-demand information and real-time decisions, and the ability of BI applications and IT staff to support thoserequirements, continues to widen.”This means that you as the ISV have an entirely new set of customers with goals and perspectives different from the traditional ITend-user; they are looking for “instant gratification” and if they don’t get it from your product, they are likely to go find itelsewhere. Given this trend towards a “consumerization of IT” in the workplace—whereby users demand and are given morecontrol over the technology they use—ISVs need to be proactive and anticipate these needs as they plan their productroadmaps. A modest investment in innovation will reap a significant return in terms of customer satisfaction and competitivewin rates.Purchase decisions moving to the executive suiteBI decision-making is moving from the IT department to the executive offices. Specifically, C-level executives in finance,operations, sales and marketing comprised a larger percentage of decision-makers in 2011 than in 2010, and this trend ispredicted to continue. Companies are beginning to coordinate their sales, CRM, customer, partner and market communications,and social media initiatives into a combined, customer-centric communication strategy. Choosing a reporting and analyticsplatform that can enable these diverse data sets to be tied together is of critical importance.“BI tools are now making mark in the decision-making environments enabling visibility and providing insights across operationalimprovements, finance and cost management and sales and marketing decisions.”—CXOtoday.com, January 2012.Emergence of new players and “new” BI softwareToday we are seeing a host of startup or small software companies attempting to win customers by positioning their products asthe leaders in “Mobile BI” or “Cloud BI.” The reality however is that BI solutions need to run effectively on any platform or device,whether locally on a desktop, in the cloud (SaaS), or on a smart phone or tablet. Any ISV that hopes to thrive in this environmenthas to realize that the delivery method—i.e. either mobile or remote cloud delivery of their vendor’s solution—is simply a featureof that solution.Delivery methods are not markets. Mobile is not a market; it’s a delivery method. Cloud is not a market; it’s a delivery method.Having a platform that can address all required delivery methods is more important than chasing the industry buzzword ofthe month.By focusing solely on how their software is accessed or where it resides, rather than the business problems it solves, these new BIvendors miss the message from the end-user and from ISVs—which is that they expect the BI solution to be easily deployableacross all delivery platforms. To deliver on this requirement, ideally the platform you choose should be based on a commondesign environment (such as BIRT). The paradigm of design once, deploy anywhere greatly reduces development time andmaintenance costs associated with the BI content in your application.In summaryWhat’s needed in this New World of BI are reliable, high-performance, interactive and secure BI solutions that “move with theuser”—solutions that are easy to use and can create applications that are accessible at the desk, at home and on mobile devices,and can capture and interactively display meaningful data from social media as well as from multiple data sources—rangingfrom Microsoft Excel to the most complex databases—in any format. Vendors who embrace the needs of the “BusinessDeveloper” and invest in innovation will see their revenues increase.Why ActuateOne® and BIRT® lead the way in “Agile BI”To control support and customization costs, rich applications built with Actuate and BIRT® make the information in anyapplication instantly accessible, providing users with the ability to quickly and easily customize their own report views. With BIRTInteractive Viewer™ and BIRT Studio™, users get what they want—ad-hoc reports, dashboards, charts and analytics—whilesupport calls and customization requests are minimized or eliminated entirely.Actuate’s, cloud-friendly BIRT iServer™—and SaaS BI platform BIRT onDemand™—provide ISVs with multiple options forseamless integration and deployment of end-user applications. If an organization provides software via a SaaS delivery model, orplans to do so, Actuate products offer an ideal architecture and platform. Finally, Actuate is committed to producing productsthat will continue to provide “agile BI,” whatever the next industry trend may be. About David Armstrong David Armstrong is the Vice President of OEM and SAAS Business for Actuate Corporation, where he has been responsible for the largest partner relationships for the past five years. Prior to joining Actuate, Mr. Armstrong held roles as Senior Director, OEM Sales at Xythos; VPCopyright © 2012 Actuate Corporation Business Development at Autonomy; and Director Page 3 of 3 of Business Development at Lexiquest.

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