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Over the last four years Domo, a new brand in cloud-based data and analytics software, has worked to enable its customers to understand, collaborate and act on data to achieve business results. Led by its founder and CEO, Josh James, the company has worked to deliver software that provides both a good user experience and business value. Recently, at its 2015 customer conference Domopalooza, the company presented itself and its products to the general public. I had a chance to meet with company executives, employees and customers and view its products at this high-energy event and entertainment that I have not seen in years.
I believe that the key to what Domo has done is its having designed into its offerings how people need to work with data to effectively support decision-making, enable actions and stay informed on the state of the business. Domo takes a different approach than vendors that focus on visual discovery for analysts or try to create the perfect dashboard. Its simpler approach aligns to how people actually work in business. This is a major reason the company received Ventana Research Overall Business Technology Innovation Award for 2015.
We see five areas where the Domo product stands out from others and has attracted its substantial customer following. Here is a look at each of them.
First, its design reflects an understanding that business people do not have countless hours to navigate through charts looking for information. Instead Domo notifies them of critical changes throughAlerts – a feature that is missing in most other analytics tools that are mostly aimed at analysts. The notifications and alerts can be sent as SMS or email and through the mobile devices that many business people now rely on.
Second is a collaborative feature I really like called DomoBuzz. It provides contextual discussions and enables interactions with others in the same view as the analytics. This is much better than the many minimal approaches to collaboration through email and discussions outside of the context of the actual data. DomoBuzz enables people to have open or closed discussions about what is happening with the data, do root-cause analysis or examine new opportunities. Collaboration within analytics applications has long been a priority for business, but vendors designing products for IT use ignored it. Here again, Domo ensures that this capability works across the Web and mobile devices.
Third, Card Builder enables rapid assembly of information in an easy-to-understand tile that is a visual rectangle used to contain information that is presented and is interactive and collaborative. It automatically interprets data the user selects and suggests the proper visualization and presentation. These “cards” can be assembled into pages and slide shows and can be gone through by gestures on mobile devices. I think these cards could easily be expanded into a summary paragraph that anyone can read to get a high-level view of the business.
Fourth, Domo extends analytics through Tasks, which enables users to create projects, add participants and set checklists that track progress and results. Domo is the only provider I know of that has embedded the ability to assign, track and complete any range of tasks and projects within the analytics environment. And let’s be honest: Analytics generates so many potential actions and tasks that we must create lists of items to follow up on, and these usually are done in email or a document and easily set aside.
Fifth is Profiles, which provides information on Domo users that is essential for effective collaboration and assigning roles and responsibilities. It also provides the means to contact them and even connect with them on social media. This enhances personalization and enables dialogue to interact and improve, and is an excellent complement to DomoBuzz.
To utilize Domo requires gathering data from any necessary application, system or source, and the company has invested to ensure that data access is not a barrier.
Domo Magic shortens the time from data to insight and action by enabling users to transform the data. Our data and analytics in the cloud benchmark research finds that the most common impediment to efficiency in using analytics is the time spent on data-related tasks like preparing data (cited by 55%) and reviewing data for quality and consistency issues (48%). Domo Magic allows business professionals to click on and connect to data sources and extract data without IT involvement. It takes a visual approach to data mashups and what we call data preparation that blends the selection, merging and flow of data in ways much easier to use than standard ETL or data integration.
It’s simple to connect to specific data sources through a variety of connectors that can mash up data from many application sources, social media and Internet information sources, which our research reveals as the top three most important external data sources, each cited by more than 40 percent of organizations. Domo also easily connects to IT integration tools such as those from Informatica, which I saw demonstrated, and other enterprise data sources from its cloud-based environment.
To help new users get started, Domo supplies a range of QuickStart Apps that facilitate connecting to data sources and role- and industry-based applications. All of these apps are available on the Web and mobile devices so there is little or no load on IT to support Domo.
At Domopalooza the company showcased customers that have found the Domo approach easy to use. We heard testimony from SAB Miller, Schneider Electric, Stance and dozens of others. Our firm was so impressed that we selected SAB Miller (led by Ross Moncur, group head of business analytics) for the 2015 Ventana Research Leadership Award in Business Analytics. The overview video provides a glimpse of the dynamics of what SAB Miller has done with Domo and how it is using analytics to business advantage. It harnessed a significant number of data sources into a single application to guide and execute on business performance.
Domo has created a new generation of software to help organizations manage their business to optimal performance using analytics, collaboration, personalization, presentation and project and task management, all in an application that helps people optimize their processes and improve their actions and decisions. It is not a typical analytics or visualization product but cloud-based software that accelerates the time to gain insights from data, take action and achieve desired outcomes in a new way. Timing in the market for software is always essential for success, and in this case Domo has arrived during a transformation in how businesses will use information and technology to manage and optimize their efforts. They are looking for more than dashboards and pretty visualization but at the same time want software that any of their employees can use, not just analysts or data scientists. If you have not taken a look at Domo, now is a good time to do so.
CEO and Chief Research Officer
At its annual MicroStrategy World conference, this provider of analytics and business intelligence systems for business and IT introduced a new version of its flagship product, MicroStrategy 9s. Among many advances it adds enterprise grade security with MicroStrategy Usher as part of the maintenance update to its 9.4.1 release. Security is increasingly critical for analytics and BI. Technologies that work intensively with data, including reporting, business intelligence, analytics and data preparation, have access to a range of applications and databases and could leave gaps in access controls and security of essential business data. Already in 2015 the data breach at Anthem put more than 80 million medical records at risk. Our benchmark research in big data analytics finds that integration into security and user access frameworks is a very important capability to 37 percent of organizations.
MicroStrategy has spent years and significant investment of resources on MicroStrategy Usher. On the company’s mobile platform Usher provides multifactor authentication that includes fingerprinting for biometrics, unique identification through smartphone verification and a mobile device pass code to ensure secure access. Further identification security is offered through geo-fencing, which requires a user to be within range of a specified access point such as a building or a computer, by permitting access only during a specific time window or using QR code scanning to rapidly match the individual with authorized access. At the conference MicroStrategy demonstrated these security techniques along with AES-128 GCM encryption of data on devices and in transit.
Ventana Research recognized MicroStrategy Usher with a Technology Innovation Award in 2014 for using mobile technology to provide secure access to applications, information and even physical locations; in the last case it has partnered with building companies such as Honeywell. Organizations should realize the risk of having only single sign-on through insecure passwords, which can expose access to all their systems. Usher is available as part of MicroStrategy 9s or as a stand-alone product.
On another advanced technology front, MicroStrategy has advanced its cloud computing offering to embrace Amazon Web Services (AWS). This partnership can provide flexibility for its customers while reducing the effort it must put into building out its own data centers to support its products. Here also the company is addressing security of information and systems. MicroStrategy Secure Cloud includes enterprise security capabilities to ensure authenticated access. This is an important feature: Our big data integration benchmark research finds that security concerns are the most common barrier (in 54% of organizations) to using big data through cloud computing. Many buyers want to reduce the amount of software they have to license and install, but they must have confidence that their data is safe in on-demand cloud systems. Keeping it simple but secure for cloud computing is critical, and our research finds room for improvement here across the technology industry.
Regarding big data MicroStrategy has advanced its computing power through PRIME, its in-memory and parallel processing technology. Our research in big data analytics finds that in-memory systems are the most sought-after innovation in half of organizations seeking to enhance analysis. That research also shows that the number and dispersal of data sources is a major issue. More than one-third (36%) of organizations have six to 15 sources and one-fourth (26%) have 16 or more information sources that need to be integrated for optimum access. And blending data from so many sources raises security concerns; in our research in big data integration security is the fourth-most important data activity, cited by 61 percent of organizations. MicroStrategy continues its efforts to help organizations get access to any data sources. For example, it now supports the Oracle Database 12c with in-memory and databases releases and has embedded its BI software in Oracle appliances that become big data machines. In addition MicroStrategy has embraced Apache Spark to maximize compute potential across Hadoop, NoSQL and RDBMSs and expands its database support every quarter. Earlier in 2014 MicroStrategy announced support for MarkLogic 7 NoSQL technology, which is becoming more relevant in the analytics and BI market. MicroStrategy also has been continuing its efforts to support data preparation tasks performed by analysts rather than administrators as some other vendors do. Our big data analytics research finds that in creating and deploying information and using analytics, almost half (47%) of organizations spend the largest portion of time in data preparation; this is true across customer service, finance, HR and other operational areas.
Like many others MicroStrategy discovered painfully in 2014 that overall the IT market for purchasing software to deploy on-premises has slowed down and specifically that the BI market has reached a saturation point in organizations that have more than US$10 billion in revenue. Even so the company exceeded $579 million in total revenue for 2014. Its investments in cloud computing over the last several years have helped it through this transition. To adjust to the market changes it has brought in new executives including CTO Tim Lang, who has decades of experience dating back to Holistic Systems and Crystal Software, and CMO Mark Gambill who has over 18 years’ experience leading marketing teams; these two are streamlining their respective areas to make them more efficient. MicroStrategy continues to get brand-name customers on board with its mobile and analytic offerings, and its focus on security in 2015 should help in these efforts. In the past several years demand has been strong for visualization-related discovery and analytics tools among the lines of business and analysts, and now MicroStrategy has caught up and matched these capabilities. Visualization and presentation of analytics and data remain very important, according to our research: Half (49%) of organizations said it helps those who have the right skills perform analytics faster. Our research also finds that the majority of businesses want analytics to be simpler and easier to understand and available quickly on their mobile devices.
In our 2014 Value Index on Mobile BI, MicroStrategy earned the Hot Vendor rating for its mobile business intelligence technology across device platforms, primarily for Apple and Android support. But MicroStrategy will have to ante up its support for Microsoft who is making inroads with smartphones and even more so with its Surface 3 tablets and also with new generations of notebooks using Windows Touch, which enables the use of gestures in Windows; Microsoft is finding opportunities in businesses that are phasing out older desktop and laptop computers with new ones running Windows Touch technology. MicroStrategy in 2014 simplified packaging and pricing of MicroStrategy Mobile and its Web products that operate on its MicroStrategy Server platform. MicroStrategy is building on a solid year of technology advancement as I pointed out in 2014 and is poised for innovation. It provided a sneak peek at MicroStrategy World of MicroStrategy 10 (now in beta and early release), which will up the ante with the next generation of in-memory analytics and simpler administration. Developments include further support of Apple Mac OS and iOS and advancing visualization and sophistication of analytics, which may be available fairly early in 2015.
I believe that MicroStrategy should do more with search and collaborative capabilities, which our research finds to be a priority for business professionals (less so for IT). All BI vendors must be careful to listen to all audiences and stop paying attention only to IT. They will need to make sure that those in the lines of business understand how they can use analytics within the context of solving problems and opportunities, and make it as easy as possible for them do so on their own. Vendors also must understand their purchasers’ own business priorities. For instance, our next-generation customer analytics benchmark research shows that improving the customer experience and customer service strategy are the top drivers in this analytics segment. The release of MicroStrategy 9s and the upcoming MicroStrategy 10 continue this company’s prominence as an enterprise-class provider. We advise organizations to assess its evolving portfolio to identify missing elements in their existing BI and analytics deployments, with an eye on mobile platforms and security of data.
CEO and Chief Research Officer