Lucidera Targets Applied BI as a Service – And Wins

[Editorial update Feb 2010 – Lucidera is no longer in business as an independent company, but its assets, including LucidDB, are still in other products. To follow up, type Lucidera into the search box on my home page, and you’ll get a list of subsequent posts that discussed the failure of the firm and subsequent adoption of the technology elsewhere. – Merv Adrian]

Lucidera has a unique value proposition. Yes, they do BI – so do many other vendors. Yes, they do a SaaS model – ditto. How to set yourself apart? Focus on improving performance, not just reporting and leaving that to the person on the other side of the glass. Add context, best practice and benchmarks, guidance – and service. Lucidera calls it “domain specific analytic applications.” Here at IT Market Strategy, we tend to complain about people not calling such things analytics applications, but I won’t quibble here. What matters is that it is succeeding.

Lucidera, who first shipped in 2007, has passed the 50 customer mark and is accelerating. They have shifted selling strategy: recognizing that their market is still on the business side (LOB), what Vice President of Market Development and co-founder Ken Rudin likes to call “shadow IT,” they have gone over to a strategic selling model. Lucidera sells into the sales function with a Pipeline Healthcheck. They sell applied analytics that prescribe better selling tactics based on their benchmarks and analysis. The customer’s VP of Sales must be included in the deal, or they don’t proceed. Lucidera has moved from transactional selling, hiring more senior reps who can be consultative partners to their customers. Eating their own food, Rudin claims, has led to a 100% increase in average order size, and a  30% decrease in sales cycle time. Q4 2008 was their best quarter yet, and while Q1 saw the same challenges other vendors are facing, it was encouraging.

Applying aging analysis like time to win (and time to lose, which is very significant and often overlooked) directly against salesforce.com data has given Lucidera an easy-to-find target market and a solid success rate. “Instant insight” is the mantra, and actionable advice is a service play that is resonating with the small firms that often have not ramped up expert selling strategy yet. Some, Rudin claims, are already asking for a consultative review once a quarter because “they understand the analysis and the concepts, but without continual reinforcement, they often forget what the key insights and conclusions are.” This may turn out to be another market opportunity, but Lucidera is very focused right now on where they are. Guided analytics are a good step, even if they may need to go further.

The platform is stable, with built in ETL, a column-based data store, and Mondrian-based OLAP from Pentaho. The Spring release (it even sounds like salesforce.com) has extended visualization and analysis capabilities. New trend metrics and relative time capabilities, atop dashboards and gadgets that can be edited and drilled through for ad hoc analysis of the data that Lucidera imports, have enhanced usability significantly. They’ve moved to a Flex UI, which has also made a big difference. The next step will be to move into other domains, still in sales and marketing. Focus means a lot, and we expect Lucidera to move in a measured way, choosing and building for highly targeted audiences. It’s a winning strategy.

About Merv Adrian
Gartner Research VP, technology analyst and consultant, 30 years of industry experience, covering software mostly, hardware sometimes.

2 Responses to Lucidera Targets Applied BI as a Service – And Wins

  1. Kris Tuttle says:

    Hey Merv,

    I think just about every vendor who can spell BI is now positioning themselves as a SaaS play. LucidEra is one of the early ones (as is Pentaho with the open source angle) but positioning is one thing and capabilities is another. I went through this with Business Objects in the early days and lots of the competition was really doing reporting. If the market is strong enough the demand wave can lift all boats but I think customers, particularly enterprises and OEM’s are getting wise to the major spread between marketing materials and delivery.

    Green Plum is another vendor that has spent a fortune on building the company and marketing but sits in a precarious position in terms of what unique capability they can bring to the market.

    It’s a festival of “solutions” out there but I think that there will actually be more heavy lifting in a SaaS environment because the data spaces will be bigger, change faster, and probably be less well engineered for analysis than traditional sources. That will place big demands on the technology service providers. If they are designed into their architecture it’s going to be ugly.

  2. Merv Adrian says:

    You’ve raised an important point, Kris, for the users of the technologies. Just getting into SaaS must not be allowed to mean surrendering involvement in information architecture. Letting your capabilities be determined by someone else – whose primary motiviation and metrics will be built around assuring performance against existing agreed SLAs – will threaten the ability to innovate and explore unless the environment in very flexible. That will be a test for both the service providers and the stakeholders – how to sustain innovation when someone else runs the machinery?
    That’s one of the reasons I like Greenplum’s focus on flexible provisioning strategies, which will be a feature of their upcoming release – it will allow analysts to build and tear down new analytic constructs easily. That breaks some important barriers to innovation, and it’s a good place to focus some attention.

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