Had a briefing today from the folks at LucidEra about their new product releases (press releases here and here). I met them through their blog and I think this whole area of AaaS (Analytics as a Service, though that’s not the best acronym) is an interesting one. After all, if you think improving operational decisions is important (and I do) then “operational BI” or the delivery of analytic information to those executing operational processes is also important. It might not be automation, but it is important.
LucidEra’s approach to this is to deliver analytic applications – pre-configured collections of graphs/analytic tools – rather than reporting frameworks. They deliver these ondemand using a SaaS model. All the ETL/connectors/other infrastructure is hosted as part of their offering and they basically suck in data (from a SaaS or on-premise system) and generate the analytics/dashboard/graphs etc. Starting with analytics for the sales pipeline they take the approach of helping a sales person or manager answer questions like “what stands between me and hitting my numbers?”.
New this month are upgrades to their basic product, more support for salesforce.com and a new product to extract sales information from Oracle Order Management. I will leave you to go to their site for details but here are my first impressions:
- I like their focus is on pre-built, easy to select/configure analytic “widgets” not on a general purpose reporting framework as operational analytics require that people without analytic know-how can get value.
- They made it easy for people to see what they “don’t know they don’t know” by collecting best practices and making them available as a series of analytic components that you can select and add to your view. Very nice.
- The ability to get quite detailed analytic results in-situ within salesforce.com was impressive -much nicer than having to go to a separate reporting area.
- Allow administrators and managers to schedule delivery of reports into people’s emails – pushing the analytics to those who need to see it. Again, operational folks need to be helped proactively not given passive access so I liked this feature also.
Overall a nice set of functionality. I would like to see more exception-based or event-triggered delivery of analytics (if this exceeds this value then send me this analytic widget in an email; in the first 60 days of a quarter don’t send me a report unless a deal has changed state”) and clearly this is drifting into either providing a rules engine or allowing one to be called. I would also like to see programmatic access to the analytic results to support integration into other AppXchange offerings and workflow. Again this would allow more decisioning not just analysis. One of the nice things about a SaaS model of course is that they can add functions more quickly and without waiting for a physical release cycle. I look forward to seeing more from them.