Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Beyond the Checkbox - Part III

Chris Tyler from Cognos will be joining us for a series of Blogs focused on driving performance for ISVs and OEMs.  We will be publishing his Blogs on Thursdays for the next four weeks.  Chris is a subject matter expert on getting his clients to elevate value to their customers. 

This is Part III of this series.  In Part II we discussed the ways a vendor may choose to address the needs of their customer as it relates to reporting.  We will show here, the typical way vendors address that with a reporting solution.

Checking the reporting box

When the vendor provides these basic reporting capabilities, I call this “checking the reporting box”.  The vendor is delivering enough reporting functionality to allow them to check a box stating that they provide reporting as part of their application, a common requirement of any company evaluating an enterprise application.

Figure 1 – A common example of a report that allows a vendor to check the reporting box, but which provides little or no value proof.

Having the requirement of reporting included with an application is necessary, but it’s how the requirement checkbox is worded.  The checkbox is often phrased “Do you have reporting with your application?”  The vendor, providing even the most basic reporting capabilities, can then safely check the box, stating “Yes, we deliver reporting as part of our application”.  I don’t intend to imply that this is a negative.  Operationally, most of these reports are needed and verify that proper actions are being taken and the application is functioning properly.  The customer needs more!

There are four issues I find with reporting solutions from vendors who simply do enough to check the reporting box. 

  • Their reporting typically does nothing to verify the claims that a vendor makes regarding its solution
  • The vendor delivers no intellectual property or thought leadership to serve as a differentiator which leads to more wins and larger deals
  • There is little or no charge to the customer for the additional capability and therefore the vendor looks at it as a cost center not as a revenue opportunity
  • It does nothing to expand the user community of the vendor’s application within the customer

About the author

Chris Tyler has been working for the past 4+ years with Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) and Business Process Outsourcers (BPO’s) to help them address the specific needs of embedding BI into their platforms.  He has seen some great successes and some dismal failures.  Some commonalities with the successes are that the vendor delivering the application actually put some thought and intellectual property into their content.  The failures typically did not.

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