February 21, 2017 by Rhianna
The SIIA is delighted to introduce one of the newest members to join SIIA’s Software & Services Division, Exago BI. I had a chance to sit down with VP of Customer Success & Strategy, Mark Selinger, to learn a little more about business intelligence solutions. Please find my interview below.
Rhianna: Tell us about Exago BI and what makes you unique.
Mark: Exago BI is a white label, embedded business intelligence solution specializing in ad hoc and operational reporting and used by leading application software and service providers across most verticals, but that’s not what sets us apart. We’re unique because in every aspect of our application, our technology, and our partnership approach, we are designed to meet the requirements of software companies who operate in multi-client environments.
First and most important of those requirements is ease of use. Multi-client software serves an array of business professionals with varying needs and technical backgrounds, so rather than shoehorn them into a one-size-fits-all BI solution, we made our environment configurable at the user level. With Exago BI, admins can lower the barrier of entry for novice users and give power users more control without diluting the application’s capabilities.
The second requirement is seamless integration, which goes hand-in-hand with ease of use. We maintain a single sign-on, 100% web-based interface so that users need only log in to the host application to access their reports, no downloads or plugins required. Exago BI comes with fully customizable styling, an open API, and an extensible running state, which means that a system architect can make it look, feel, and behave like the host application.
Last but not least, multi-tenant software companies need to be able to scale without incurring penalties or becoming mired in support cases. We use a flat-rate annual subscription model instead of charging per user or server because our clients are our partners, and we want to see them grow. Just as Exago BI becomes an extension of their software, our company becomes an extension of theirs, providing free training and unlimited technical support so that they can stay agile.
Rhianna: In the customer driven world we live in today, how important is it for software companies to give their clients complete control over their data?
Mark: When clients have complete control over their data, they are empowered to make evidence-based business decisions. Informed decisions fuel growth. If software companies can positively impact their clients’ bottom line by providing an operational reporting suite, it is in their best interest to do so.
It is also worth considering what “complete control” means for a given vertical, as there are four types of data analytics to consider. Descriptive and diagnostic analytics help the client assess what happened in the data and why it happened. Predictive and prescriptive analytics extrapolate from that data to determine what will happen under certain circumstances and make suggestions about what should happen. We feel that solid descriptive and diagnostic analytics form the bedrock of clients’ control over their data. If these are lacking, as is often the case in BI solutions that include predictive and prescriptive features as well, their control becomes impaired. We at Exago BI focus on high-performance operational reporting and dashboards so that clients can gain maximum insight into their data before deciding how to act on it.
Rhianna: What are some of the biggest reporting challenges or mistakes you see companies make?
Mark: With a rush to build applications and get them to market quickly reporting is often an afterthought and either minimally developed through internal tools and or with the expectation that the end customer will use their own reporting tools against an exported data set. With a bit of upfront planning application software providers can leverage the powerful reporting capabilities of Exago BI that are seamlessly built into their applications from the start.
A second critical and challenging area is around data governance and security. Companies must have a way to restrict data not only at the Client level but also down to the individual user level at that specific client. For Exago BI clients this is not an issue as our system interprets the authentication and permissions of every user prior to presenting them with data.
Rhianna: With so much data out there, what advice would you give companies on how to leverage specific data to gain business insight and control over their operations?
Mark: The best advice we hear from our successful clients is to start simple with clear and concise reports and dashboards and to not overwhelm users with complexity.
As users get more comfortable with their data and their reporting solution, they will naturally look to adapt current dashboards and reports to more quickly address their specific needs. Having a reporting solution that will allow for this ad hoc capability, without involving the development team, will allow them to gain the insights they need as the business changes over time.
Rhianna Collier is VP for the Software Division at SIIA. Follow the Software team on Twitter at @SIIASoftware.