If you were constructing a lineage list of Vancouver’s technology business, contributors from Aerospace, Fuel Cell/Clean-Tech, Life Sciences and Gaming might easily come to mind.
It’s probable that business intelligence software won’t be high on that list, nor would it have the same cache or resonance as others.
Yet there’s a solid history of BI software in the city. Crystal Services was founded in 1991, was later acquired by Seagate Technology in 1994 (later rebranded as Crystal Decisions) and was again acquired, this time by Business Objects, in 2003 for $820 million. The cycle concluded in 2007 when the company was purchased for $6.8 billion by SAP.
By employing about 1200 people, SAP Labs creates a significant footprint in Vancouver. It’s also stands as a solid reminder to the historical legacy of BI software.
One Vancouver entrepreneur who’s had a long view on this history is Mark Cunningham. He’s part of the family who got the ball rolling by building that first Windows-based reporting tool, Crystal Reports.
It seems Cunningham has BI in his DNA and since founding Indicee in 2007 he’s been quietly building a new BI team. After securing their series A financing in 2009 they’ve been focused on developing a platform to change how business intelligence is done. He’s quick to suggest “the industry really hasn’t changed much in terms of business adoption in the last 20 years.” In many ways Cunningham sees a significant opportunity by overcoming so much unfulfilled promise in the space citing “BI adoption has remained stuck somewhere between 25 percent and 30 percent for years. That is to say, only 25 to 30 percent of employees who could benefit from BI are actually using it.”
The big question for the Indicee team centres around asking whether a business user can actually use it. The “consumerization of IT” is impacting many business processes, and there’s no reason that BI should be immune. For Cunningham it’s all about “creating a simpler user experience, and leveraging the cloud to make it more affordable.”
“At one time the business model was, for every $1.00 of software sold you could count on at $7.00 of services, such as implementation and training. We don’t envision a 100 percent self-serve model in the future but we see ourselves reducing the service costs substantially.”
Breaking down business silos is the key to Indicee’s success. They’re creating a unified user experience, empowering the data analyst to do it all, from asking the questions, testing the data, building the models and reports, and making it more sharable throughout an entire organization.
In April Indicee rolled out Analytics for Sales & Chatter on salesforce.com’s AppExchange, allowing businesses to connect with customers, partners and employees in new ways. This application is providing companies with insight into how activity in Salesforce Chatter is impacting sales KPIs such as average order values, win rates and time-to-close rates. By bridging data from the Salesforce Sales Cloud and Chatter, the new dashboards show the correlation between social activity and sales performance over time, and help businesses with calculating the ROI of team selling.
By quietly going about their business, 2012 proved to be a record-breaking year with 400 percent customer base growth. Indicee, is winning over a growing number of Fortune 1000 companies. As well, working with Salesforce.com and building on an existing, mature ecosystem is starting to pay off. They’re seeing gains in diverse sectors including Healthcare, Finance, Manufacturing, Fast Moving Consumer Goods and Food & Beverage.
The immediate attention for the company is on the upcoming Dreamforce conference, where Cunningham has a number of speaking engagements and educational panel conversations scheduled. The more distant horizon has the current 25 person team building a streaming engine to capture, model, and deliver insights for high speed and more unstructured data. The big goal is making “data available and accessible to anyone from anywhere, anytime.”
With the history and talent available in Vancouver, as Cunningham recently suggested to one Silicon Valley investor, “why build a BI company anywhere else?” It’s safe to add Indicee to the list of companies planning to make Vancouver home for the long haul.