New from the Hype Machine: BI as SaaS - InformationWeek

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3/13/2007
08:10 AM
Seth Grimes
Seth Grimes
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New from the Hype Machine: BI as SaaS

The launch of LucidEra, an "on-demand, reporting and analysis solution that focuses on simplicity," has generated quite a bit of attention. The company has been put forward as the poster child for software-as-a-service (SaaS) BI, a pacesetter for an emerging BI revolution. My take? The company appears to have spun the impact of a modest, narrowly focused (and perhaps quite nice) solution far out of proportion to its real import.

The launch of LucidEra, an "on-demand, reporting and analysis solution that focuses on simplicity," has generated quite a bit of attention. The company has been put forward as the poster child for software-as-a-service (SaaS) BI, a pacesetter for an emerging BI revolution. My take? The company appears to have spun the impact of a modest, narrowly focused (and perhaps quite nice) solution far out of proportion to its real import. LucidEra is designed to offer services via an integrated, hosted, Web-accessed BI stack. Their software platform covers data-source integration, ETL, reporting and OLAP functions. Sales Vice President Tina Babbi explained to me, "We sell solutions, not the BI platform. The first solution is a forecast-to-billing solution that analyzes opportunities in [Salesforce.com] through the billing cycle in the finance system."

Salesforce.com is a hosted customer-relationship-management (CRM) system. Fair enough; sounds like a solid foundation for a business. Babbi wrote in e-mail to me that "more applications are planned. Unfortunately we are not ready to share that roadmap at this time."Stephen Swoyer reports that LucidEra recently posed a doozy of a question: "Why go through the hassle of researching, RFP-ing, selecting, implementing, overcoming implementation SNAFUs as they crop up, and-moreover-managing your own in-house business intelligence (BI) infrastructure when you can effectively outsource it lock, stock, and smoking data warehouse appliance?" The answer seems simple: BI consumers can avoid LucidEra's straw-man hassle only if they're Salesforce.com users who don't do BI on anything but Salesforce.com. I hear echoes of Henry Ford's famous dictum about the Model T, "You can have any color you want as long as it's black."

LucidEra's Web site cites a 2007 preview by the 451 Group that places "LucidEra at the forefront of disruption in the BI market via software as a service." What's the context? The only significant market disruption I've observed recently stems from vendor consolidation, from Oracle's offer to buy Hyperion to gain performance-management creds. I suppose the overplayed hand here is held by the 451 Group although an earlier, October 2006 report from the 451 Market Insight Service is actually quite guarded in its assessment of LucidEra's products and prospects.

I hate to rain on anybody's parade... lacking good cause, and then only so far as is justified. LucidEra's self-congratulatory PR falls short of a reprise of the Emperor's New Clothes. I'd liken the company more to a brass band that's knows only a couple of tunes and has lost the sheet music for all but its trombones. But they're boldly marching on, making it up as they go along, determined to play at the Rose Bowl. Watch out. They're loud and I can hear them coming… from a thousand miles away.

P.S. LucidEra relies on the open-source Mondrian OLAP engine. They're a prime example of the genre of open-source user I wrote about last week, a company whose "developers are building [open-source based] BI functions into line-of-business applications for the Web and the enterprise."

Seth Grimes is principal of Alta Plana, which consults for users and vendors on business intelligence, data warehousing, and emerging analytical technologies. Write him at [email protected].The launch of LucidEra, an "on-demand, reporting and analysis solution that focuses on simplicity," has generated quite a bit of attention. The company has been put forward as the poster child for software-as-a-service (SaaS) BI, a pacesetter for an emerging BI revolution. My take? The company appears to have spun the impact of a modest, narrowly focused (and perhaps quite nice) solution far out of proportion to its real import.

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