Choosing the Right BI Vendor

While megavendors have tended to dominate the business intelligence (BI) market, smaller vendors are beginning to make inroads. Venture capitalists and buyers appear to have renewed confidence in these smaller players' ability to provide high-quality platforms that meet the growing and rapidly changing needs of the market.

Organizations are moving toward end-to-end solutions that provide mobile and cloud capabilities. Dealing with the issues related to big data will become a mainstream information management requirement and change the way companies use their data and the strategies they employ to make business decisions.

To effectively manage and use data in a world where the technology is changing rapidly, organizations need a vendor solution that will keep up with these changes and provide timely support over the lifetime of the product. Smaller vendors with quality products and strong support have carved a share out of the market, despite the fact that organizations seem to be more likely to buy from stack megavendors, indicating that the technology platform and level of support a vendor provides are both major factors in the buying decision.

Provide Good Support to Increase Product Renewal Rates

Some companies may be inclined to focus on presale efforts rather than product support, which comes after the initial sale. However, the majority of a client's lifetime with a vendor is spent with the support team, which makes support a critical component of the company's overall impression of the vendor. Every businessperson has heard the saying that it is cheaper to retain a customer than acquire a new one, which means technology companies should be focused on increasing product renewal rates. Renewal rates for technology depend on many factors; however, the level of support the customer receives will certainly affect his decision to renew. Most organizations will renew their license with a technology vendor if they continue to receive value from the product. Support can increase engagement with customers by providing tips and updates on using the product effectively or in new ways.

Most importantly, however, support and product upgrades will add value to the product by ensuring that it continues to allow the organization to stay on top of trends and use its data effectively. Product upgrades will allow organizations to take advantage of features that allow them to analyze data in new ways, such as through a mobile device, or use new sets of data, such as big data.

Help Organizations Save on Post-Purchase Costs

Implementing and maintaining a BI solution is expensive. Many components affect the overall cost of the platform, including licenses and maintenance, hardware, implementation fees, and ongoing development and administration costs. With good vendor support, including rapid answers to questions and a supply of available tutorials and resources, an organization's implementation costs can be reduced. If the implementation process is relatively smooth, the organization will be more likely to purchase new products and upgrade to newer versions.

While implementation represents a large up-front cost for organizations, ongoing maintenance and administration is actually where the majority of costs associated with total cost of ownership lie. Therefore, organizations must carefully select the vendor that offers a solution that best fits their needs, and consider the long-term relationship they will have with this vendor. Vendor support and customer service can significantly impact the costs associated with maintenance and development. Implementing product upgrades is an initial cost for organizations, but upgrades can help to improve the quality of the product, and reduce the costs associated with maintaining and extending the solution.

Providing good support and customer service is part of a larger strategy to grow market share and revenue. Organizations' switching costs for BI platforms are generally high, but as more companies move to cloud deployments and realize the business benefits in new platforms, they may find ways to lower switching costs, or simply deem that the high costs are worth the benefit. In the increasingly competitive and rapidly changing BI industry, vendors cannot afford to rely solely on their product; they must also ensure that their customer service and support helps organizations lower costs, speed up implementation, and receive the business benefits that data can provide.

As the marketing and public relations specialist at Dundas Data Visualization, Gayle Ryan is responsible for researching insights in the business intelligence industry and developing articles and content that foster conversation and spread knowledge. Her career spans the consumer products and technology industries.

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