Going to the gym can directly benefit one's health -- that's a notion that people, for the most part, don't need to be sold on. The number of gym memberships skyrockets at the start of each year, but, as time passes, interest begins to wane, and some people begin to visit less frequently. Two months in, these people realize that, not only haven't they been going to the gym as often as they'd expected to, but they haven't even been making time for it. When the contract comes to an end, they don't have any reason to renew. Ken Rudin, vice president of market development and cofounder of LucidEra, uses this as a metaphor for business analytics. "Most people don't have analytics worked into their day-to-day routines," Rudin says. Salespeople are aware of what business intelligence (BI) could do for their sales processes, but the solutions historically haven't been sticky enough to drive repeat visits.
"It was the dirty, little secret of analytics," Rudin says. "For many companies there wasn't much impact [with BI solutions]. They bought all these features and functions and they weren't using [the software] regularly." That's the reason, Rudin says, that the LucidEra team has centered the latest release of its on-demand BI software around the theme of business impact. The Spring '09 version focuses more on stickiness for salespeople than on a laundry list of new capabilities.
The following are what Rudin calls the three core attributes of LucidEra Spring ’09:
- Rich, flexible dashboards: The companys moving away from its pure slicing-and-dicing interface in favor of customizable and graphical dashboards. Rudin says that LucidEra's previous interface, which resembled a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, was appropriate for those who wanted to slice and dice, but not for people who wanted to get a quick overview of the business. And the people in the quick-overview set, he points out, "are the ones with a significant level of impact on the business." With that target in mind, the software caters to line-of-business personnel -- salespeople and marketers -- with its user-friendly dashboards and personalization capabilities.
- Prebuilt applications and dashboards: The Spring ’09 release builds upon LucidEra's key insight applications -- Pipeline Insight, Lead Insight, and Order Insight. The solution now offers recommendations to users about which analytical tools they should be using. Prebuilt dashboards provide tips about what to look at next. Rudin says the company took a cue from online retailer Amazon.com in its product-recommendation feature: Dashboards essentially tell users, "Salespeople who liked Analytic A, often looked at Analytic B, as well." Rudin calls it "concept-guided analytics."
- Impact Guarantee: To help customers see the value of the LucidEra solution, the team has often performed health checks on customers' businesses to demonstrate the value that could be gleaned from Pipeline Insight. LucidEra says that, in the majority of instances, it has been able to uncover hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of opportunities. Today, the vendor is taking that health check one step further by adding a guarantee: Within 48 hours of an engagement, LucidEra will analyze a company's pipeline and uncover $100,000 worth of missed opportunities. If not, Rudin says, LucidEra will write that customer a check for $1,000. "We've done so many of these [analyses] and have found so much impact for companies, I think its a safe bet," he says.
From its founding until last spring, LucidEra had been focused mainly on sales departments. At that time, though, the company brought out LucidEra Lead Insight, which addressed the disconnect between marketing and sales by giving both departments a better view of the entire sales process and the life cycle of leads, from initial acquisition all the way to conversion. Before the introduction of Lead Insight, Rudin told CRM magazine, the process emphasis was on keeping the pipeline going. Since then, the emphasis -- while still intent on keeping the pipeline going -- has expanded to include driving end-user adoption.
Jeff Kaplan, founder of software-as-a-service (SaaS) consultancy ThinkStrategies, praises the personalization aspects in the Spring '09 release, saying that they will make the tools easier to use for line-of-business personnel. He says that the Web-oriented approach is making analytics for business users more powerful.
"The established systems out there for so long [have been] complex and really not end-user oriented. Even when fully deployed, they take a specialist," Kaplan points out. "Therefore sales administrators or sales managers couldn't easily tap into them or access the information they needed to make quick judgements about the status of sales or to do a more-thoughtful job of analyzing sales performance."
Kaplan notes that the end-user orientation of this LucidEra release, combined with the vendor's rapid deployment model and pay-as-you-go pricing, will make an attractive offer for sales managers and administrators in organizations of any size. "The visualization [LucidEra has] to offer is a real representation of the way in which SaaS-based solutions are able to appeal to end users," he adds. "LucidEra is not only getting positivity from [small and midsize businesses that] are its primary target," Kaplan says. "They have also had a good amount of interest in early adoption among large-scale enterprises, as well."
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