McKesson Pharmaceuticals, Welch’s, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Nike, and Shaklee are just a few of the firms that utilize SaaS-based business intelligence to both save on implementation costs and to take advantage of business intelligence insight faster. Customers noted that they could frequently deploy SaaS-based BI initiatives at one-fourth the cost and in one-fourth the time.
Acquiring business intelligence (BI) capabilities through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model versus enterprise BI represents the inflection point of two separate trends in business. One trend signals the increasing importance of gaining insight into all manner of business events. These events encompass not just transactions, but patterns in activity as widespread as customer responsiveness, network management, supply chain performance, and fraud detection. The focus on BI comes from business grasping the importance of the axiom: “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
The second trend relates to an increasing interest in the concept of SaaS. The idea of leasing rather than buying a software application, and accessing it over the Internet, offers companies many benefits relating to the conservation of resources. With a SaaS application, companies can generally:
- Deploy applications faster (weeks rather than months)
- Reduce the cost of deployment (by a factor of four)
- Avoid the cost of hardware and associated maintenance and monitoring
- Eliminate the need for on-site expertise in the application itself
These two trends are converging now for a variety of reasons. Not the least of these is the realization that overarching business insight relies on the integration of information from a multitude of systems. Even companies that have standardized on all-encompassing enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications realize that sometimes key business data exists beyond the boundaries of such applications. While ERP vendors are concertedly designing and acquiring new modules, two facts remain: it takes time to incorporate new and acquired modules into the ERP infrastructure, and companies may have custom-built modules whose functionality outweighs the promises and even the reality of what ERP vendors provide.
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