In the past, when business intelligence projects were primarily considered to be IT initiatives, BI vendors realized the importance of forming alliances with a variety of implementation partners to help them gain broader market penetration. They joined forces with technology consultants, system integrators, value added resellers (VARs) and others who would offer their reporting and analysis solutions as part of a broader, fully integrated IT infrastructure.
But in recent years, BI has become more strategic. No longer just another software application among many in a company’s arsenal, business intelligence has transformed itself into a vital and indispensable tool that helps drive corporate performance. As a result, functional managers and senior executives – not technical professionals – are now the “owners” and key stakeholders when it comes to BI projects.
This new audience is prompting many BI solution providers to reconsider their channel sales strategies. Technology consultants, while still valuable, may no longer have the kind of influence over business intelligence strategies that they’ve had in the past.
For example, in many companies today, the CFO is spearheading BI projects, because of the mission-critical nature of financial reporting regulations. And while supporting technologies are important, what he is really concerned with are the business challenges associated with compliance. So, he would be unlikely to bring on a pure technologist to solve his specific business problem, and would be more inclined to turn to a strategic consultant with a business-oriented focus, who can incorporate software and hardware tools into their plans and recommendations.
And so, the role of the BI channel partner is changing. Companies who used to seek to align themselves with technology solution providers are now forming partnerships with firms who deliver business solutions, with technology as a component of those offerings. You see many BI industry leaders developing relationships with the likes of consultants who focus on procedural workflows and business process management (BPM), corporate performance management and balanced scorecards, and other high-level strategic initiatives.
What’s the difference? While the former are experts in BI technologies, the latter are not only well-trained in reporting and analysis tools, but possess in-depth insight into the underlying business issues that drive their use. This offers the end-user even greater value by providing them with not only superior BI solutions, but with the procedures and policies that enable their most effective use.
BI will continue to play an increasingly strategic role in today’s organizations. More and more, business intelligence is becoming a means of successfully achieving corporate goals and objectives, not just a tool to satisfy departmental needs. As a result, there will be some dramatic changes in the types of channel partners that business intelligence vendors turn to for assistance in bringing their solutions to the marketplace.