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LucidEra: Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Posted in: Cloud9 by Swayne Hill on June 25, 2009

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The fallout over LucidEra ceasing operations has done nothing but fuel confusion. It’s not  surprising, I suppose, as the next wave of on-demand BI players jockey for position. On one hand, headlines declare the end is near for SaaS BI; on the other, vendors are falling over themselves to offer “rescue” or “safe-harbor” programs for LucidEra customers.  Both sides of the debate miss the point:  while selling hosted BI tool subscriptions might sound seductive to a ‘data junkie’, this does nothing to solve business problems.  And in the SaaS world, there are hundreds of business users for every one data junkie.  LucidEra didn’t fail because they focused too narrowly in the market; rather their assumptions about what drives adoption in the SaaS world were flawed.

The target consumers of SaaS BI - LOB management - continue to evaluate BI solutions not on technology, breadth of offerings, or ease of use, but the value they deliver.  Vendors that “get it” have almost universally eschewed the term “BI” to describe their service offerings and have instead focused on creating out-of-the-box, configurable solutions that deliver measurable business value.  The challenge for up-and-coming vendors is to create a scalable business that provides business users with the experience they’ve come to expect in the application world - plug and play.

But even that’s not enough. Industry best practices are essential to help LOB managers ask the right questions in the right order. If they don’t know what they NEED to know then the best tools, technologies, reports, and dashboards are useless.

Marrying automation and best practices as part of a total offering works. We’ve experienced record growth for the past three quarters, just closed our ‘B’ funding round and our solutions are generating a great deal of momentum at large, global customers like Siemens, Beckman Coulter, and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

This is the perfect storm SaaS BI vendors are up against:

  • LOBs that use SaaS transactional apps like Salesforce want to consume their ‘analytics’ in a like manner: easy-to-use, business-controlled, and rapid time to value.
  • IT is rarely part of the equation and if it is, there is rarely rapid time to value
  • LOBs don’t want to become BI experts; they want to focus on their business
  • IT is skeptical of SaaS BI for many well-understood reasons.

So it’s no wonder why some Sales VPs don’t see the value in SaaS BI Erector Sets that vendors throw into their laps without any understanding of how the business really works. Why? Because these vendors are good at BI, not any particular LOB operational management.  Those that don’t “get it” will continue to fall by the wayside.

So I have to shake my head when I see SaaS BI vendors charming the data junkies among the LucidEra customer base while ignoring the business users. To me, they are offering more of the same and, unfortunately, “more of the same” will also mean more failure and frustration for SaaS BI vendors and more trusting customers left high and dry.


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