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LucidEra Touts Rip-and-Don’t-Replace Outsourced BI

Why go through the hassle of researching, RFP-ing, selecting, implementing, overcoming implementation SNAFUs as they crop up, and—moreover—managing your own in-house business intelligence (BI) infrastructure when you can effectively outsource it?

That’s the question posed by LucidEra Inc., an upstart software-as-a-service (SaaS) BI vendor that last week unveiled its eponymous SaaS BI portfolio. Aimed squarely at mid-size companies, LucidEra provides integration connectors to common data sources, data extraction, data cleansing, OLAP and reporting services.

Instead of giving customers a SaaS BI outfrastructure and asking them to do something with it, LucidEra delivers pre-built, process-specific services, such as its inaugural offering, Forecast-to-Billing.

That service combines sales and financial data to give users insight into the success of sales teams (including quotas, pipeline, revenues, and expenses); how rapidly opportunities move through the sales and billing cycle; and product sales, margins, and discounts.

LucidEra officials argue that the SaaS model eliminates cost-to-entry, difficulty-of-implementation, cost of ongoing maintenance, and other barriers that have traditionally limited BI uptake in small- and mid-size organizations. In this respect, LucidEra’s founder and CEO compares his company and its BI aspirations to that of another prominent SaaS player in the CRM space. "[T]here is a huge need for an on-demand reporting and analysis solution that focuses on simplicity," Rudin said in a statement. "We’re excited to … provide a solution that will be to Business Intelligence what salesforce.com was to CRM."

LucidEra is also SaaS-friendly: it can retrieve and combine data from third-party SaaS providers such as Salesforce.com and NetSuite. It has its own ETL engine, so customers can transfer source data into LucidEra’s off-premises database. LucidEra has promised connector support for Microsoft Dynamics GP and Intuit QuickBooks; it also plans to support FrontRange GoldMine, Oracle Siebel, and CRM solutions from Pivotal and Onyx over time. (Customers are also able to determine how frequently they want their data refreshed, officials say.)

Elsewhere, LucidEra’s built-in data quality facility de-dupes, merges, and matches data from multiple sources. LucidEra’s data quality capabilities are licensed from Systems Support Alternatives, while its built-in OLAP functionality taps the Mondrian open source OLAP engine.

The LucidEra service itself, along with its ETL capability, are based on source code from CRM and marketing automation firm Broadbase Software, according to Krishna Roy, an enterprise software analyst with The 451 Group. "Although the database engine and ETL engine are derived from Broadbase code, executives report that extensive modification has subsequently taken place to evolve both elements into a native multitenant/hosted architecture," Roy wrote in a research bulletin.

LucidEra is now available, officials say. The service starts at $3,000 per customer per month. That price includes Forecast-to-Billing, 100 user seats, and pre-built connectors into three data sources.

Wayne Eckerson, TDWI research director, says SaaS providers such as LucidEra are part of a new wave. "On-demand computing is the future of software, and the future of BI, at least for the small-medium size business market, if not for a majority of standard enterprise reporting applications," Eckerson comments. "LucidEra is one of the first BI on-demand services to hit the market, but it won't be the last. The simplicity, ease of use, and low cost make this approach a no-brainer for many applications."

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a contributing editor for Enterprise Systems. He can be reached at stephen.swoyer@spinkle.net.

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