Small businesses and BI

I saw Dayna Grayson’s post about the winners of NBVP’s Seed Competition. One of the winners was Profitably, which is providing analytics and BI on data in Quickbooks. They are joining a growing list of companies that are selling SaaS BI on standard data schemas to SMB’s (small and medium businesses). Another recent one that a colleague pointed out is Metricly. I’ve signed up for the betas on each site, so will post more when I get to use them.

In most cases, the vendors have taken a horizontal platform (whether Quickbooks or Salesforce) and developed a reporting / analytics offering on top of it. The real question for me goes back to some of the posts that I wrote when I started this blog – these plays are interesting, but they don’t get to the heart of the highest value problems:

  • understanding a business (i.e. vertical) and offering BI / reporting that factors in specific challenges
  • integrating BI as part of the business process of an organization (e.g. within Quickbooks usage or within Salesforce)

Some of the major players (e.g. Siebel Analytics) have offered a “matrix” (i.e. functional area x vertical) suite of applications for several years (e.g. sales for manufacturing or finance for retail). More accurately, at least they offered one several years back; however, it doesn’t seem like these got much traction in their target market as I don’t hear about them any more. I also haven’t seen other enterprise software vendors that sell to large companies universally adopt this packaging for their go-to-market. Presumably, they would have if the market were responding strongly.

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