For many successful businesses and software vendors, one crucial success factor is making the best use of your data. This applies not only for your internal team, to glean insights about your customers to reduce churn and maximize growth. But it also applies to your customers. They want to make use of the valuable data your software is capturing, so they can grow their business.
While everyone agrees that dashboards and reporting are critical factors for success when it comes to doing the work of implementing BI as a feature of your software, it is commonly left behind or just a bare minimum of static reports are provided to customers.
This is where product managers, development leads, and executives get into the dreaded “buy vs build” decision. Do we use our precious resources to build our own dashboard and reporting features, and risk deviating from our core focus, or do we go down the path of trying to find a BI vendor to partner with?
Every organization is different, but more often than not, the smart choice is partnering and going with embedded BI. But, embedded BI is only the smart choice IF you can find the right partner and the right price.
After working with hundreds of software vendors, we know companies believe buying embedded BI is costly. Well, they aren’t wrong; they’ve just met the wrong embedded BI vendors.
But cost and technical fit are not the only factors to consider when partnering. The business aspects of the relationship are equally, if not, more important.
This article explains four essential business factors to consider before you pick your embedded BI software vendor.
The 4 Key Business Factors to Help You Pick an Embedded BI Software Vendor
When it comes to business intelligence solutions, you may want to contact and only consider the big brands. Back in the early 2000s, there used to be a saying at enterprises buying software:
“No executive has ever gotten fired for buying Cisco.”
Big vendors may be costly, but they are safe. And while there are numerous examples of huge implementation failures that come from big vendors (at big cost), the decision-maker who brought them in can always cover their rear by simply saying “But everyone uses them.”
Small to mid-size companies these days don’t have this luxury of paying for the big name brands. Cash flow is king, and they need a BI vendor that is affordable and works for their business. Often the smaller vendors do it better.
Let’s discuss four factors you should consider before choosing your preferred vendor.
This is perhaps the biggest thing that small vendors can provide you that more established vendors can’t. How fast can they respond to your needs?
One big factor is technical features and customizations. Asking for new features in a large vendor can take many months to years (if ever). You are stuck with what they provide.
A benefit of a small vendor, if they are customer-centric, it’s like have an extension to your development team. Need a feature tweak, a small vendor can put that to the top of their development roadmap and get it done (at least we do at 5000fish).
Another key factor is support. When starting the embedding process a lot of developer support is needed and then once implemented, there will be continued support needs by your team.
Large vendors may push a lot of the implementation support to their Professional Services teams, at a large expense to you. Again this is an area where with a small vendor you can have direct access to their engineers and get issues resolved quickly, and again, get quick enhancements to features as needed based on your direct feedback.
One other to mention is contract flexibility. Many businesses tell us that large vendors like Tableau, Sisense, Domo, have very little flexibility when it comes to pricing and contract terms and conditions. They don’t have to change much, especially for a smaller deal (while the deal may be huge to you, for them it’s probably peanuts).
With a smaller vendor, they can be flexible and craft a win/win relationship. Your business is valuable to them and you are more partners than customer and vendor.
It comes down to being a small fish in a big pond or being the big dog in the pound.
Avoid long-term lock-in but seek long-term relationships
One piece of advice we always give new and growing software vendors, don’t lock yourself into long-term relationships.
Things change quickly (use 2020 as an example). When it comes to your tech stack, your customer requirements, your needs, what you have today probably will not match what you need in 2 years. But many large BI vendors will aim to lock you into 2 year plus contract terms.
The lure of the deep discount seems like a smart idea, but once locked in, the contract terms are tight and you’re stuck. We’ve seen many vendors run into over promises or issues a few months into a 2-year contract, and they are reaching out to us as an alternative, hoping they can break their existing contract. Generally, we don’t find many successful (in breaking their existing contract).
With that said, the key to any partnership is a relationship. With a large BI vendor, your relationship tends to stop at the middle management level. And they tend to change quite often. Contacts you used to be able to rely on to get things escalated can quickly be gone and you’re back to the starting point in terms of relationship and access.
With a smaller BI vendor, you tend to have a connection to the top of the food chain. And that can get things escalated and drive success for your business.
Start small, set simple goals
It’s great to have a vision and set big hairy audacious goals, but when you’re just starting, buying embedded BI solutions that fit your full end goal may be a little price prohibitive to start.
As we said above, things change quickly, your goals today may not match what you need in the future. You don’t want to be driving a Hummer when gas soars to $4 a gallon when all you need to transport your customers from point A to B is a Chevy Volt.
In the BI space, our advice is to map out what your must-have features are and those that are nice to have. Too often, especially when comparing vendor A to B, we get stuck in the mode of wanting every bell and whistle possible losing track of cost and what we need to deliver to customers at this point.
Focus on what is needed near term and pick the best possible solution that provides that and has the flexibility and customer focus attributes mentioned above to help get you to where you want to go.
Cash flow is King (and Queen)
A famous philosopher waxed eloquently, Cash Rules Everything Around Me (C.R.E.A.M) and that should also be true when it comes to partnering with an embedded BI vendor.
Before you choose your preferred vendor, you need to draw up a budget. After that, contact vendors and compare their prices for your account. Of course, you need to spend cash in the world of embedded business intelligence. However, sticking to a well-thought budget helps you make effective decisions and prevent over-spending.
When you need to integrate your business software with business intelligence, you need to exercise caution. You may want to make purchases from the biggest brands available. However, this may be a mistake as your company will just end up being one out of countless customers. So, instead of chasing the big brands, contact the small brands, and let them serve you effectively.
Here’s a spoiler. All the benefits of small BI vendors that we talked about above, we were talking about ourselves. We really can’t say if all small vendors have the philosophy that we have when it comes to partnering and customer support. But we think they should.
The best way to move forward is to schedule a meeting with us and discuss your requirements and see if Yurbi is a technical fit. Unlike a high-pressured sales call, you’ll be talking to an industry expert and as a small company, it’s in our best interest to only bring on customers who are good fits. So we’ll give you an honest assessment if Yurbi is right for you or not.