Four Reasons Why Your Application Vendor Shouldn’t Be Your Analytics Vendor

Don't believe the hype: applications vendors fall short in key areas.

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I’m not a very good basketball player.  Of course I love to watch it and I’ll be glued to the television during the NCAA tournament.  But when I tried to master basketball after years of excelling in soccer at an early age, I found it really difficult to become a skilled player.  I accepted that being good in one sport didn’t necessarily equate to being good in another sport. 

This true life story reminds me a lot of the current data analytics vendor landscape.  There are so many companies trying to capitalize on the hot business intelligence (BI) and analytics market.  Many of them have promising or differentiated solutions as evident in the 2016 Gartner BI Magic Quadrant report from February.

One market trend which can’t be ignored is the application vendors coming out with their own BI and analytics product offerings.  You know who I’m talking about – the vendors delivering applications in areas such as CRM, HR, and ERP.  Don’t let them fool you into thinking they are best-in-class when it comes to BI and analytics! 

Here are my top four reasons why your application vendor shouldn’t be your analytics vendor:

1) It's not in their DNA

Application vendors are experts in their applications but that doesn’t make them experts in BI and analytics.  Over the past few years, you’ll recall most application vendors had previous BI and analytics solutions which failed and were eventually scrapped or phased out with newer offerings.  In my opinion, this is due to analytics lacking focus as the primary go-to-market solution. 

It’s no secret application vendors want to capitalize on the analytics up-sell opportunity into their install base.  Yet, pure-play analytics vendors have years of a head start not just in engineering but also in the DNA of the organization and its employees.  Thinking of it a reverse way, most people wouldn’t purchase a CRM application from a vendor primarily focused on business intelligence and analytics. 

2) Data isn’t wrapped up in a bow

People love to focus on the glitz and glamour of data visualizations but they often forget to think about the real challenge of a successful analytics project: data.  Application vendors use phrases like “we are the nerve center” for data.  While it’s true a lot of key information is housed in the application database, how many companies do you know that house all of their analytical data consolidated and structured for analysis in a single vendor application?  With the explosion of both internal and 3rd party data sources, it’s nearly impossible to have all data stored in one place.  A robust analytics solution needs to support multiple disparate data sources without requiring complex 3rd party ETL products.  Data quality and data governance also need to be carefully considered in any best practice analytics solution.

3) Cloud-only can be a detriment

There’s no disputing that cloud is here to stay and it’s one of the hottest topics in the industry.  Industry analysts are predicting that 1 in 4 BI deployments will be cloud based in 2016.  But what about the other 75%?  There are numerous organizations with BI and analytics use cases where cloud isn’t an option.  It’s important to have the flexibility of an on-premise or hybrid cloud offering in addition to just cloud-only.  Cloud is often the easiest way to get started with an analytics project but the long term cumulative TCO is typically cheaper to deploy on-premise compared to the TCO of a multi-year cloud deployment.  

4) Vendor Lock-In

Warren Buffett is commonly attributed the famous quote of “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.  While he was referring to the investment community, the same analogy can be compared to the enterprise software space.  Application vendors will likely sell you on the benefits of a single throat to choke.  But we’ve all seen examples where companies have locked in with one vendor only to run into issues down the line since they have no options and get strong armed by the vendor.  De-risk your investment by going with best-in-class analytics solutions provided by vendors who are recognized as proven leaders.

Effective BI and analytics deployments can have a quantifiable impact in any organization.  “Good enough” products shouldn’t be acceptable.  Make sure you consider the best-in-class options and refer to 3rd party analysis such as the 2016 Gartner BI Magic Quadrant Report. Make your short list vendors prove themselves with complex use cases and you’ll soon see the difference between the contenders and the pretenders. 

If you are interested in learning more about how Qlik compares to application vendors in the CRM space, you can join this upcoming webinar. And if you aren’t a great basketball player (like me) but have interest in BI and analytics tied to the NCAA basketball tournament, check out this cool Qlik Sense mashup app.  Enjoy and good luck in your brackets!

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