I spend a lot of time meeting and engaging customers.
As founder of 5000fish, as well as the product visionary behind Yurbi, one of my key goals is to be able to listen and learn as much as possible from customers and people in the market looking to buy BI software.
For the last 18 years, I’ve been doing this daily in the form of sales calls, demos, meetings, and any other way that gets me in a conversation with real people. My goal is to educate them about Yurbi, but I like to take the listen-and-learn approach, where I really listen behind the scenes to understand what their challenges are.
What their concerns are.
What problems they are really trying to solve so that I can make my company and my product better.
If I factor in just the last 24-months, I have probably averaged about five meetings per week. That’s a conservative estimate. Some weeks I’m slammed with a dozen or more appointments. But if you take that conservative number, that’s at least 500 learning opportunities over the last two years.
So what have I heard and learned? And what have I learned that goes against the BI marketing messages you hear right now from some of the big industry leading vendors?
Here are the 6 major things that I’m hearing from BI buyers that goes counter to the business intelligence marketing hype.
1. Business users don’t want to build their own reports.
That sounds strange coming from a company that sells self-service BI software. But what I constantly hear, at least from the buyers of BI is that their business users don’t want to be power users that create multiple reports, no matter how easy. They just want to be the consumer and be able to slice and dice and get data when they need it.
In general, organizations are looking for simpler ways to make their report builders’ lives easier. The philosophy or myth that’s perpetuated by the BI industry is that business users want to build their own reports. But the reality is that business users want to focus on their job, and they want the fastest and easiest ways to do that.
2. Companies are really struggling with clean data
There’s a ton of data out there, and it’s all over the place.
Companies are struggling with uncoordinated Microsoft Excel workflow processes, where they’re getting data from multiple places in different template styles and formats. Their data is spread out across databases, in the Cloud, PowerPoint, Word, Excel and other files, with no coherent way to make sense or keep track of it all. Even if they’ve taken the time to develop data warehouses, data marts, and data lakes, they’re still struggling to have a clean source of facts that they can use to begin answering the business questions they have.
That’s a big challenge I’ve learned from companies of all size. A dashboard and reporting solution itself is not the answer to a company’s data woes.
3. People seeking BI solutions are not finding what they’re looking for
Because we don’t have a massive marketing budget, most businesses find us by word of mouth or via Google. By the time a business buyer reaches me, they’ve looked at 6-7 other companies and are unhappy with everything they’ve found. Thankfully, Yurbi tends to check more marks than everything they’ve looked at, and they’re happy after spending some time with us.
What that tells me is that there are a lot of vendors in the marketplace pouring money into marketing and hype but dropping the ball on providing buyers with the combination of features and cost that businesses want (read this to learn why). A common theme is the larger BI vendors are just too hard and uncompromising to work with (probably due to having a sufficient number of companies who just buy from them on the hype alone, without doing sufficient research).
I’m also learning that buyers are extremely tired of aggressive sales pitches from BI vendors, and the lack of transparency in terms of pricing and total cost. They may have found a solution—such as Domo or Sisense—that they were actually very happy with. But by the end of the trial period when they get to the real cost, they have sticker shock.
By the time a buyer gets to Yurbi, they want to get straight to the point.
“Tell me the cost. Tell me what I get. I don’t want to waste any more time.”
4. Buyers want to start small, prove the technology, then grow the solution
Because of the high minimums and costs involved with mainstream BI software, most buyers want to test and prove the technology first before they even consider investing in a solution. They’re very frustrated with the inflexible terms of the industry, where they have to buy a cow just to get a glass of milk.
Businesses haven’t made the mass move to Cloud BI, even though that’s been the prediction for the last 5 years.
The majority of people that we talk to don’t want to move their data into the cloud. Or into another 3rd party data stack. They already have their infrastructure.
They may even be on the cloud already via a private cloud server on Amazon Web Services or Azure and they want software they can bring in-house and manage on their servers, behind their firewalls.
Most of the buyers we see looking for Cloud BI are small to mid-size businesses that are looking to report on marketing and sales tools that are also cloud-based.
6. Businesses aren’t as interested in mobile BI as expected
Most buyers like the idea of mobile BI and expect their BI software to have it, but in practice, I’ve found that most business users are still tied to their desktop. Having a web interface is most important—they may work remotely or from home—but businesses that we talk to still seem to be desktop-oriented when interacting with BI tools.
Yurbi is designed to work on mobile and tablets. For certain users, we see BI is valuable to have on the go, but from the conversations I’ve had, it’s a very minor requirement. From a business user’s perspective, it’s not something that seems to be important just yet.
While this is information that we’ve learned, we’re not using this to stop putting development effort into our mobile interfaces. I do think Mobile BI will be a major factor in the future, but I think solving the relevant data challenge mentioned in #2 has to come first.
Unfortunately, not all 500+ conversations over the past 2 years have resulted in buyers becoming customers of ours. In some cases, they are just researching and looking for info. Sometimes our product is just not a good fit (and we’re happy to tell them if we don’t think it will be). Sometimes they find a cheaper solution or decide it’s worth paying more to one of our bigger competitors.
From my perspective, all of the interactions and feedback that I get from buyers and customers is extremely valuable. I take it very seriously as does my team. While my job is to inform and educate people about Yurbi, behind the scenes I’m always listening. I have my ear to the ground, listening to the people researching and buying BI software.
What do I do with this information?
I factor it directly into our business process and practices.
That feedback influences how we engage and work with customers. How we include the concept of starting small and growing into our pricing and cost models. Not everyone wants to be a power user, but they want data, so we don’t penalize people for having large numbers of people that just want to consume data.
By listening, we develop the kind of product that’s designed for business users and report builders who want to save time and do things a lot easier than writing code all day.