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Meet the new BI. Not the same as the old BI.

GoodData announced earlier today a $15M B-round of financing led by Andreessen Horowitz.   Mark, Ben and the rest of the team have managed to quickly build one of Sand Hill’s leading venture capital firms, but their influence is felt well beyond Silicon Valley.

Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I love reading Ben Horowitz’s blog, and since I’ve been selling to enterprise customers for over 20 years, I especially loved Ben’s post last November: Meet the New Enterprise Customer, He’s a Lot Like the Old Enterprise Customer

Ben argues that as much as we all like the consumerization of IT, real adoption in large enterprises will require a more traditional sales approach. We agree, and it’s why we are thrilled to be partnering with Andreessen Horowitz and adding general partner John O’Farrell to our board.

But disrupting the $25 billion BI and Data Warehousing space is going to take a little more than great enterprise selling. The BI vendor approval ratings are probably below those of the US Congress and most of the BI software ever sold ends up as a shelf-ware!

That’s why we’re going to balance traditional enterprise selling and a product-first customer experience. Unlike traditional BI, that still dump-trucks software onto the laps of unsuspecting enterprise buyers, we have to sell, deliver and delight our customers. We can’t just take the money and run; our SaaS business model keeps us honest.

So, how do we plan to overcome the challenges that Ben lists in his post? Let me focus on a few of his many killer quotes:

“Many companies literally do not know how to buy new technology products”

We see this clearly in the enterprises we are already selling. The BI technology stack is so convoluted that large companies often need to hire consultants simply to help them evaluate the BI products, organize the bake-offs and the selection process. No start-up is set up for success in a procurement process that is designed to avoid innovation, and that clearly advantages the incumbents.

To overcome this, we are not selling the traditional IT tools to IT audiences. GoodData is not another piece of the complex BI value chain. Our semi-official tagline is “GoodData equals BI minus BS”. Our economic buyer is the functional VP in a medium or large organization. It is the VP of Sales or Marketing rather than the head of the BI competency center. Our sales cycle usually takes less than six weeks rather than six months, and when we do sell directly to the IT department, they are usually in an S.O.L. situation.

Once deployed, enterprises develop great affection for the technology that runs their companies.

That’s the irony about BI. While technically deployed, it’s rarely actually used. Few organizations or practitioners have any affection for their BI vendor or their software sitting on the shelf. Unlike line-of-business, IT systems do not effectively run the business. There are few companies that can actually manage their business by the metrics, and few business users that can easily use a BI tool. And this is the problem we’re solving. We do this by making BI approachable and pervasive, through our pre-built analytics apps, and by integrating our dashboards into end-user applications and processes (such as Salesforce.com or Zendesk) as much as possible.

Enterprise users are concerned with getting home to see their 8 year old’s pee wee baseball game

This is why we run a fully managed service. My vision for GoodData has always been of an end-to-end product that includes not only the infrastructure components (ETL, Data Warehouse, analytical engine…) but also the technical operations, support and best practices, so that we can deliver a complete service to our customers. We even publish our Operational & Service Performance here: http://www.gooddata.com/trust.

I could go on all day quoting more from this and other AH blog posts, but the fact of the matter is that the new enterprise customer needs new BI, and GoodData is here to help.

Tagged: a16z, funding, GoodData

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More Stories By Roman Stanek

Roman Stanek is a technology visionary who has spent the past fifteen years building world-class technology companies. Currently Founder & CEO of Good Data, which provides collaborative analytics on demand, he previously co-founded first NetBeans, now a part of Sun Microsystems and one of the leading Java IDEs, and then and Systinet, now owned by Hewlett-Packard and the leading SOA Governance platform on the market.

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