I believe today's leading Cloud vendors and solutions are redefining business intelligence (BI) and analytics at three levels. These three tiers of BI/analytic service are having a significant impact on organizations of all sizes across nearly every industry who are taking advantage of a widening array of Cloud solutions, and becoming a key differentiator for leading Cloud vendors.
The first tier is the built-in analytics which accompanies every leading Cloud solution and allows the user to immediately see the key performance indicators (KPIs) they need to do their job on a daily basis. The most common example of this user-centric analytic feature is the management dashboard which permits an end-user or manager to track day-to-day activity real-time to ensure they are meeting their goals and objectives.
The second analytic tier which is critical to the success of Cloud solutions is the activity tracking engine which sits behind the screen. This is the pivotal component of a Cloud solution delivery system because it records every keystroke and enables the vendor to analyze how specific aspects of their solution are meeting users' needs. It can also uncover new feature and service opportunities for the Cloud vendor.
The third and most embryonic tier of analytic capabilities in the Cloud is the opportunity to aggregate the metadata gathered from the activity tracking engine and package it into a powerful set of benchmark statistics that can help users maximize how they utilize the Cloud solution to achieve their business objectives.
For example, my email marketing vendor (Constant Contact) provides benchmarking statistics which allow users to see how their email campaigns compare and contrast with their peers on a industry-by-industry basis. As a result of this additional BI/analytic service, users can modify their business processes to improve their marketing effectiveness. This not only increases the stickiness of the Cloud service, but creates new service opportunities for the Cloud vendor.
As corporate acceptance of Cloud alternatives grows, the proliferation of players accelerates. While this has created a buyers' market, it has also made the vendor selection process harder for corporate decision-makers.
Business and IT decision-makers should evaluate potential Cloud vendors based on their ability to deliver BI/analytic capabilities at these three levels.
Cloud vendors that are not developing powerful BI/analytic capabilities at these three levels will be at a competitive disadvantage.
Jeffrey Kaplan is the Managing Director of THINKstrategies and Founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace.
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