SalesPanda Editorial Content
Buying Guide for
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Why this Guide?
This guide will help technology buyers understand the basics of Business
Intelligence and its relevance to different industries. It will guide the buyers on the
steps to be taken in evaluating the Business Intelligence solutions and finalizing
the right product and implementation partners.
Who can use this guide?
Any technology buyer who is planning to evaluate or implement Business
Intelligence for their organisation in the next 3 to 12 months would find this guide
What next after reading this?
The guide not only gives a framework for evaluation but also provides a repository
of content on SalesPanda for further research. For those who are in evaluation
phase the guide gives links to the products available and list of solutions providers
in the buyer geography for implementation or the IT evaluator can get in touch with
the SalesPanda team for a free architectural assessment and recommendation.
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Table of Contents
1. What is Business Intelligence
2. Business Use Cases
a. Reporting platform
d. Multidimensional analysis
3. Market Trends and recent events
4. Business Intelligence Evaluation Criteria
c. Choice of Vendors
5. BI Components and conceptual framework
6. Key Product Vendors
b. Information Builders
e. IBM Cognos
f. Open Source
7. Services Framework and Implementation Check Points
8. Pricing Guide
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1. What is Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence, commonly known as BI is a collection of software
applications that are used to analyze an organization’s raw data and transform
them into a set of meaningful and useful information for business purposes. It
helps in interpreting large amounts of data.
Companies use BI to improve decision making.
It is also used to identify inefficient business
processes that can be re-engineered.BI is
capable of handling enormous amounts of data
in order to identify, develop and create new
opportunities that can be turned into a
competitive advantage and provide long term
stability to the organization.
2. Business Use Cases:
BI technologies are typically helpful in the following four fields:
a. Reporting platform: This is the most common use of BI. Business
intelligence technologies are used to build reports that show the actual and
also how the actual results sum up against the short term and long term
targets of the organization. Reports generated can be daily, weekly,
monthly, quarterly or annually according to the requirement.
b. Forecasting: One is never sure what the future holds. However, a little bit of
forecasting always helps as it is extrapolation of the existing data and is not
a complete guess. BI can be used to predict forecasts based on analysis of
the historical data.
c. Dashboard: The main purpose of a dashboard is to convey the data and
information at a glance. There is hardly any requirement for drilling down on
this data. BI is used to prepare such dashboards which are presentable and
easy to use.
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d. Multidimensional analysis: This is more commonly known as slicing and
dicing of the data. This offers an insight into the data at a more fundamental
level. A strong data warehousing/data mart backend along with skilled BI
professionals are prerequisites to multidimensional analysis.
3. Market Trends and recent events:
Visual data discovery: BI tools are based on the concept that the customer
can write his own query without
having to know SQL. Visual data
discovery has made the tools even
more easy and flexible to use when
it comes to reporting, building
dashboards and business query. It
increases the agility to manipulate
and then mash the data together.
Along with this it also offers
interactive, user-friendly visuals.
Cloud based BI: While cloud computing has been able to make dents in
every software segment, BI is still relatively untouched. As the cloud vendors
in this segment like Birst, GoodData and Indicee have remained niche
players. However, 2014 looks like the year where cloud could make a strong
hold in BI as many industrial changes are taking place in favor of it.
Mobile BI: Mobile will continue to drive the adoption of BI that will make the
latter more relevant to field and front-line workers as well as will also reignite
executive interest. Still in most of the organizations that have implemented
BI, mobile BI for the employees has been implemented on a relatively small
In-Memory becomes mainstream: Now all leading BI platform vendors
have in-memory solutions, with Oracle being the last to join the ranks with its
Exalytics appliance, which runs the TimesTen in-memory database. Kicking
off 2013, SAP announced the ability to run its core transactional (OLTP)
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applications on the in-memory database. Nonetheless, debate about when
to use in-memory or when to use an analytic appliance, columnar database
or disk-based data warehouse will continue, driven by constraints including
available expertise, analytic demands and cost.
4. Business Intelligence Evaluation Criteria:
While selecting a business intelligence tool there are certain key aspects that
should be evaluated:
a. Capability: This concerns the set of features offered by each tool.
b. Integration: It is very important that the BI tool is compatible with the
existing company environment; existing data warehouse tools, company
infrastructure as well as organizational policies. This ensures smooth
c. Choice of Vendors: These include the vendor characteristics which shape
the buying decisions like product vision, market share, track record, industry
experience, reviews and references and finally the most important of all
5. BI Components and conceptual framework:
This is a new platform through which customers can combine the capabilities
offered by business intelligence with that of cloud based services.
ETL System DW System
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6. Key Product Vendors:
While there are abundant BI start-ups, the long term suppliers dominate the
markets. The biggest of them are.
a. SAP: SAP Business Objects includes a range of solutions for all company
sizes across all industries and geographies.
SAP has recently launched version 4.1 of the software which includes
industry focused visualizations and spatial analytics, Big data support and
increased access for Oracle’s Exadata, OLAP and Essbase.
SAP has also launched a cloud-based, self-service BI solution called SAP
Lumira cloud which helps in better analysis and collaboration of data. It is
primarily aimed at small and
medium organizations and
departments within large
Personal editions of
Business Objects BI start at
99$ per user with online
purchase. Other costs are
tailored to the requirements
of the organization.
b. Information Builders: This
supplier has been in the market since 1975. This year the company has
come up WD two new products: WebFOCUS Social Media Analytics which
uses data from social media interactions to provide insights into sales and
marketing, customer responses.
CLOUD Hosting services: This is a new platform through which customers
can combine the capabilities offered by business intelligence with that of
cloud based services.
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WebFOCUS is generally priced based on the servers that software runs on,
so customers usually pay more when the number of concurrent users
exceeds the capacity of the server on which they are running.
c. Microstrategy: In 2010 Microstrategy started offering mobile on the iPad
and iPhone and followed it up with two cloud offerings:
i. Launched in 2011.
ii. It is an enterprise version
iii. Data and analytics software
are hosted and results are
provided to portals or to
iv. Data volume is unlimited.
Microstrategy Cloud Express-
i. This has a monthly
subscription model, priced per user with a capacity based
ii. Data volume is limited to 1 GB per user.
iii. Launched in October 2012.
d. SAS: SAS holds a 12.7% share of the business analytics market, 9% share
of the overall BI and 35.25 shares of the advanced analytics. It has two key
SAS Enterprise BI Server-
i. Integrates SAS analytics and SAS Data management.
ii. Report delivery through mobile services.
iii. Easy to use interfaces
iv. Tailored to different types of personas such as power users,
analysts, information builders and decision makers.
v. Price is based on the server group classification on an annual
fee basis and also includes technical support.
SAS Visual Analytics-
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i. Easy access to both descriptive and predictive analytics.
ii. Conduct ad-hoc data analysis , visually explore the data,
develop reports, dashboards, KPIs
iii. Share insights through web and mobile tablets.
iv. Addition of features like decision trees and scenario analysis.
v. Currently runs on Linux servers with the next version also
supporting 64 bit Windows.
vi. Price is based on the total no. of cores in the cluster on an
annual fee basis and also includes technical support.
e. IBM Cognos: IBM Cognos 10.x suite:
It includes several versions ranging from entry level ones for a
desktop to enterprise versions -
i. The enterprise edition runs on AIX, HP ITANIUM, HP-UX, L
INUX, SOLARIS or Windows.
ii. Analyzes databases, spreadsheets, unstructured data and Big
Cognos Express -
i. For workgroups and mid-sized companies.
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ii. Consists of four modules- Reporter, Advisor (analysis and
visualization), Xcelerator(Microsoft Xcel Analysis) and
Planner(Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting).
iii. All the modules can be purchased separately as well as a
f. Open Source: Pentaho and Jaspersoft offer reasonably capable open
source versions as a stepping stone to commercial offering.
g. Others: Other popular BI tools especially in the area of Data Discovery /
Visual Analytics are Qlikview, Tableau etc.
7. Services Framework and Implementation Check
Some of the key implementation Check Points while selecting an implementation
ETL and DQ
Information Management Strategy & Architecture
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Team size - The size of the team should be determined by optimization of
manpower utilization and billing rates.
Number of years they have been in business - The track record and
experience of the implementation partner should be carefully gauged and
Domain knowledge and product understanding of the team that is in charge
of executing the project.
Key clients - Who have been there impactful clients in the past as well as the
Types of implementation partners - Whether they are consultants or
resellers or system integrators etc.?
8. Pricing Guide:
Component Entry Level Mid-range Enterprise Class
0-10 Users 2-3 Lakhs 5-15 L 20L+
10-100 4-5 L 10-20 35L
Core Based 50L-1 Cr. (16 Core) 1-1.5 Cr.
Annual Support 15-20% 20% 100% (very few products)
Implementation 30-60% of License cost depending on complexity
(Currency is INR)
Reports and ETL work is segregated into low, medium and high complexity and
typically assigned 1, 2 or 4 days respectively – this is typical, some reports/jobs
can be more complex.
While Open Source software is free, it does not have much capability and might
have support issues. The Business Analysis and service fees are anyways
required in case of Open Source BI implementations as well.