More and more of Microsoft’s ISV partners are telling us that their customers across industries are striving to get value from their data.  In financial services, they want to do things like optimize portfolios, identify potential business risks and opportunities, and understand best business unit performance.   In Retail, they want a corporate-wide view of the business to optimize inventory levels, and provide faster and more accurate reporting to enable better business decisions.  image In Manufacturing, they want to streamline supply chain operations, optimize relationships with partners and customers, understand their best performing divisions and control costs.  These are just samples – there are many other industry applications for Business Intelligence (BI).  If you are an independent software vendor (ISV) who serves these or other industries, you probably want to add BI to your software portfolio, if you haven’t already done so.

ISVs have many options for addressing BI needs – you can:

  1. Invest in developing your own BI technologies with your favorite set of dev tools
  2. Form a partnership with a 3rd party who already has BI tools that can work side-by-side with your software
  3. Adopt a hybrid approach, leveraging extensible BI code and customizing it to your specific application needs

image With Option 1, you could potentially maximize your revenue, but would also likely maximize your costs.  You could have the most control over the way your code is written, but would potentially be writing “plumbing” code that is not core to your business and might have a steep learning curve.

With Option 2, you would have the lowest cost and the least control over the capabilities of the BI software.  You would essentially be a reseller of the BI technology, and would be reliant on the BI partner’s sales team to help sell a given deal.  They may or may not understand your business, and your objectives may or may not be in concert with theirs.

Option 3 is more workable with partners who have rather comprehensive platform offerings.  Conceptually with this approach, you could have the best of all worlds – embedding “plumbing” code owned and maintained by others, customizing the code in ways that matter to your business, keeping development costs low, and potentially speeding your time-to-market, while maintaining control over your sales cycle.

The approach you take to incorporate BI into your application will depend on many factors including:

  • To what extent do you want to monetize BI technology as part of your offering?
  • How much development/test work are you willing to perform up-front and on a recurring basis?
  • What value do you hope to get from partnering?

If you want to monetize BI as part of your offering, you will want to work with a partner who has a royalty licensing program, enabling you to resell their code as part of your solution (Microsoft’s is referred to as ISV Royalty Licensing).

If you want to minimize the amount of dev/test work you perform on a recurring basis, you’ll want to be sure that the partner’s technology includes not only the algorithms or special sauce that is of interest to you now, but is part of a broader offering that will enable you to build additional features as needed over time (Microsoft has a comprehensive offering that includes OLAP, Scorecards, Reporting, Data Mining, Data Integration, Portal, Document Management, Search, Collaboration, Business Process Orchestration, a comprehensive Development Environment and Ecosystem, and Operations Management  shared across technologies…to name a few).

image Partnering value can take many forms.  Most people think in terms of partnering as joint selling or getting some assistance with development, but there is much more that is possible.  Some potential reasons for partnering include:  Training, Understanding Future Direction, Gaining IP, Risk Mitigation, Accelerating Time-to-market, Reducing Costs, Developing New Markets, Growing Capacity, Demand Generation, Brand Alignment, Press/Analyst Interaction, Geographic Coverage, Customer Satisfaction, and a host of other reasons.

Microsoft has one of the largest ISV partner communities in the world because we provide so many options for technical and GTM collaboration – if you are an ISV thinking of embedding BI in your application, your should definitely take a closer look at our offerings, starting with http://www.microsoft.com/bi.  There are also links from that site that fan out into many of the other topics discussed.

Let me know what you think – thanks,

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Karl Dittman

Principal Business Development Manager