Published on 18 December 2012
Sam Walton, founder of Walmart and entrepreneur extraordinaire, once said, "There is only one boss. The customer. And, he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money elsewhere."
That quote holds true for most small businesses.
However, before you service a customer, you need to know their preferences as well. This is where SaaS business intelligence solutions come in handy. They enable you to define and refine your view of the customer by tracking their engagement levels with you and your product.
However, given the plethora of SaaS applications jostling for a small business's attention, how do you decide which business intelligence solution is the best fit for you? We investigated customer definitions for three BI solutions from our ecosystem.
This San Francisco-based company offers multiple business intelligence software and reporting tools to help customers make sense of Big Data. The company makes sense of data using the "Bash" model.
A bash, which can be custom-built or pre-built, combines your data with GoodData's expertise. In essence, this means that GoodData combines your analytics from multiple sources including social networks, reporting tools, and other sources, into a single, cohesive, and understandable whole.
According to Jenna Petersen, the Marketing Program Manager at GoodData , their users or customers are primarily business users. "Given GoodData's intuitive visualization and user experience, our users tend to be business users who have analytical needs, but do not possess the technical skills required by traditional BI," she says.
Because data is industry-agnostic, GoodData's clients are derived from industries as diverse as hi-tech to eCommerce to retail. Their client profile is as diverse. It consists of a mix of Fortune 500 companies such as Time Warner Cable and Lenovo to high-growth businesses such as Zendesk and GetSatisfaction.
Yurbi bills itself as the new paradigm of business intelligence. According to their website, their self-service model lifts the burden from IT and puts power into the hands of the business user. There might some truth to this claim, as we have demonstrated in our earlier reviews.
In an earlier interview, founder David Ferguson had told us that Yurbi was a multi-functional tool. This means that small businesses can customize features based on their usage of the system. For example, you can combine Yurbi's query building feature with a scheduling and distribution feature to create multi-source correlations of data. Or, you can use it to build custom or legacy web interface or license management.
The last-mentioned use is important to delineate the solution from the rabble.
"We don't focus on industry verticals but functional verticals," says Ferguson. According to him, this focus has an impact on their client list.
"The majority of our clients are the users, managers, or administrators of the service management functions with mid-to-large-sized organizations," he says. This is because many companies have made the mistake of investing in expensive, hard, and non-user friendly business intelligence software packages, says Ferguson. "Yurbi offers them more cost affordable and agile solutions," he says.
That, however, is for the paid version.
As I wrote in an earlier review, their free community edition is extensively used by nonprofits and school systems because it is free. In addition, Ferguson says they are using Yurbi to connect all sorts of data, including phone systems, property management systems, gaming data, and accounting data.
Yurbi has a fairly broad approach to customers. "We start with a solution that requires no knowledge of SQL programming or database experience," he says. "We also provide methods for advanced users interested in leveraging their technical knowledge within the Yurbi interface." Ferguson adds that the solution does it in a way that does not compromise security or data governance.
Tableau is an award-winning business intelligence software for fast data analysis and better business dashboards. The Seattle-based company has a suite of products that are used across platforms and industries for data analysis and business intelligence purposes. For example, the Tableau Server enables you to visualize and make sense of complex data within minutes. The beauty of their approach lies in customizing this capability to multiple industries. For example, you can view data analytics pertaining to industries as diverse as banking and education using the same product.
"The need to see and understand data is a universal one, no matter the size of organization, department, or market," says Doreen Jarman, public relations manager at Tableau. This universality is reflected in Tableau's customer database, which includes "mom and pop" stores to large international companies such as eBay.
Part of the reason for their popularity is due to the fact that users find Tableau easy-to-use. "Anyone with an Excel spreadsheet can find value using the product," according to Jarman. Of course, this is not to say that complexity suffers. "We also have very technical users who reside in IT departments, CIOs of companies and customers, who have been with us from the beginning and are very advanced," she says.
Feel free to dive into our section of business intelligence tools on GetApp to discover and compare more solutions.