Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mind your own business [intelligence] Part II

First, I want to thank Curt Monash ( for mentioning my blog in his postings this morning -- that's really nice of him.  He is also reviewing several BI players at the moment.  God knows there's a lot of them.  Go read his reviews.

Since my last post about that market, I emailed with Gooddata's CEO and Founder Roman Stanek who was kind enough to put up with my questioning back & forth emails.  He suggested several other names I might be interested in exploring so I set out to do just that.  In the process, I discovered Indicee who totally blew me away.  They have a clean, fast, operational UX. Not only was I able to upload data immediately, but they were nice enough to kick up my account size so I could push up more data. Next, I have to say their customer support response time is just awesome.  For me, Mr. instant gratification, this says a lot about a company. And finally, believe it or not, you can ask questions of the data in English!  This has been one of my "dreams" for a long time and I had actually envioned the same kind of interface Outlook has to setup mail rules, but theirs is even cooler.  As you probe the data, they show you what the question is like _IN ENGLISH_ -- Nirvana.  Their stuff just works.  These Canadians can write software I tell you!

Not so impressive was PivotLink.  Their website clearly displays a link marked "Start Free Trial".  Stupid me, I thought I might be able to get a free trial.  No such luck.  Instead, I was contacted by a Sales Development person who offered to schedule a "demo/webinar" for me and "go over my requirements" and determine if their "solution is a fit for the company".  Are they kidding? Why don't you let ME the customer decide for myself?  Thanks but no thanks.  Then, they offered to "send me over" to their Chief Marketing Office.  Needless to say, by that time I had already scratched off their name from my list of potentials.  Disingenous and condescending. 

Next in line was Lucidera. I contacted the company to see if a trial version was available.  I'm not even going to write one word about this little experience.  Instead, I'm going to post the email response I received -- you decide:

We actually have somewhat of a different "trial" experience than most
organizations. Since we are an on-demand model and analytics tends to be
pretty extensive, we have what is called a Pipeline Healthcheck. What we
do with the Pipeline Healthcheck after having a call with you to go over
your analytic requirements is we access your data and
bring that into our application via a read-only log in and we analyze
your sales data, focusing on your sales people, sales processes and your
pipeline while highlighting areas of opportunity or potential risks that
we find based on our best practice analytics. Customers and prospects
are typically finding hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in
revenue opportunity. The Pipeline Healthcheck also serves as a business
case with quantifiable value based on your sales data if you think the
application makes sense for your business. If you'd like to set up a
call to discuss further and your organization is a
customer, please let me know of a few good times and a number to reach
you and I'd be happy to go over this further as well as discuss your
interest in sales analytics. Thank you!

Huh?!? I don't know about you, but the last thing I need these days is to be "pipeline checked". It just doesn't sound appropriate on a first date.  


  1. I have been following your blog for a about a month and I encourage you to keep on digging and investigating this SaaS BI space, we can all use the exposure and recognition. I am the Chief Marketing officer from PivotLink you mentioned above, (ouch) so I just have to respond to your last posting. We have also just rolled out a new website and I noticed our “free trial” button was changed to read “start free trail”, I will change that as I can see your point of how it might be misleading.
    The reason we do a quick qualification is that PivotLink may not be the solution prospects are looking for as an individual productivity tool or a small workgroup solution and we have no issues letting the prospects know that up front before engaging in a trial. That’s a bit different from the typical SaaS practice I admit, but for a reason.
    Our solution is designed for customers working with large data sets from production data warehouses and/or transactional systems. For instance in the retail industry, we typically process raw POS data, e-commerce transactions feeds and daily supply chain data; these tend to be large data sets. In healthcare industry, we combine patient episode reporting data with clinical test data and organizational performance data for regulatory reporting with HIPPA security. We admit these are not the typical data sets most SaaS BI vendors want to tackle but it is where we target our service – and where we believe a robust SaaS offering can offer a high value alternative. As you can imagine, these file types and production sizes typically are not what is found in a free trial where prospects are encouraged to upload data and a few minutes later test the software’s functionality.
    I also acknowledge we need a better way to allow prospects to self provision and test the software to get feel for the product and we’ll add that onto the site later this summer. Today, in our free trials we hope to highlight our service on high volume, high dimensional data as that is where we have proven to provide a unique offering in SaaS BI marketplace.
    When a company requesting a free trial lets us know their target data is from spreadsheets alone or would be below five million records, we are typically not the right fit for their needs or their price point. More than being disingenuous, we believe we are trying to above board and sincere with our prospects as we are not the low cost BI vendor in this space and there are less expensive and even free offerings on the market that address smaller data sets very nicely.
    Our trials tend to be more vigorous tests that take into account real production level data transfer times and modeling of data sets of 10 million rows and above. The top five percent of our production customers have instances on PivotLink with over a billion rows data. Our average user count per customer is just about exactly one hundred active users, with our largest sites having over one thousand registered users. In February and March of this year the PivotLink service answered over a million report requests (Ad-hoc queries) to over six thousand active users each month.
    That is why we try to qualify a bit before we set up a trial. Not to rope someone into a slick pre packaged demonstration or a high pressure sales tactic, just a quick and honest needs assessment and a quick dialog around appropriateness of fit and price.

  2. Hi Gofast, and thank you for your comment. I actually did get additional insight on your offering from Evangelos Simoudis at Trident who is, I believe, one of your investors. I totally understand your need to pre-qualify prospects given your market segment. My only beef was with the "free trial" offer link being misleading. A more appropriate link would probably be "Register for a free trial" and if I understand correctly, you are going to address that so all is good.
    After all, Kognitio does not offer "free trials" either for obvious reasons since their market (like yours) is more enterprisey and clearly you dont want every joe shmoe like myself pulling down your bit when the "match" would not be appropriate :) Believe me, I understand that very well.
    I appreciate your taking the time to comment and wish you guys the best.

  3. Great, thanks for your response and I am fixing that new tab. We do offer the free trail and your suggestion is where we are headed "Register for a free Trail - if we can fit it. My actual name is Dyke Hensen - I have figure out how to get my alter ego name changed. Keep digging, keep evaluating, keep writing, BI is a great space and these are exciting times.

  4. Hi Jerome,

    Thanks for the kind words on Indicee. We have been flying a bit below the radar as we continue to build out our solution. I did make reference to your blog in a posting I just put on our site. I had a few thoughts from the things you wrote. You can check it out at:

    Sorry...I just had to steal your title! :-)