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Neil Raden

I hope that you will engage with me with your comments as we explore the future of business intelligence (BI), particularly its expanding role in the actual process of making decisions and running an organization. BI is poised for a great leap forward, but that will leave a lot of people and solutions behind so expect a bumpy ride. I also expect there will be a flurry of advice and methodologies for moving BI into a more active role, one that will widen the audience as BI meets more needs. But a lot of that advice will be thin and gratuitous, so hold on while we put it under the microscope. You can reach me directly if you prefer at nraden@hiredbrains.com.

About the author >

Neil Raden is an "industry influencer" – followed by technology providers, consultants and even industry analysts. His skill at devising information assets and decision services from mountains of data is the result of thirty years of intensive work. He is the founder of Hired Brains, a provider of consulting and implementation services in business intelligence and analytics to many Global 2000 companies. He began his career as a casualty actuary with AIG in New York before moving into predictive modeling services, software engineering and consulting, with experience in delivering environments for decision making in fields as diverse as health care to nuclear waste management to cosmetics marketing and many others in between. He is the co-author of the book Smart (Enough) Systems and is widely published in magazines and online media. He can be reached at nraden@hiredbrains.com.

First of all, I haven't spoken to Ken Rudin CEO or Darren Cunningham VP Marketing yet (and I won't unless and until they decide to discuss it with me), so I can't offer a description of the events that lead to the closure LucidEra. There are some things I do know, though.

First, Ken and Darren are extremely competent and experienced software people. I've known both of them for years and have worked with them. Whatever happened, you can be sure it wasn't a result of poor management. In fact, knowing Ken the way I do, I'm quite sure he was a good steward of his investors' money and didn't buy a $47 million jet to complement his two yachts the way some other BI company CEO recently did.

However, unless I'm mistaken, both of them have deep resumes, but almost if not entirely in the enterprise software business working for companies like Business Objects, Siebel, Salesforce.com and Oracle. It was a bold, and perhaps misguided attempt to aim a startup at the notoriously hard to identify SMB (small-medium business) segment, especially when the principals lacked the deep connections to partners and VARs needed to reach this market. Again, I'm speculating, but this seems to me to be sort of obvious. Selling into the SMB market requires a completely different message, vocabulary and approaches. In my consulting practice with software companies, this is a common problem that I also hasten to point out. Even if you know THEM (the SMB's) the real question is, do they know you, and what are you willing to spend to get hooked up with them?

I also wonder if it was too risky to come out with a product that was so narrow? LucidEra was not a BI product, it was a BI application. When you combine the tough economic hurdle they ran into at their most vulnerable time, combined with an application designed to address one small part of a firm's application portfolio and a presumably tough learning curve in the SMB market, the risk (in retrospect) looks too great to bear.

I liked the LucidEra product. My wife was about to add it on to her Salesforce.com system for her business. Without any prodding from me, she found the easy start-up, simplified licensing and almost transparent integration with Salesforce.com just what the doctor ordered. I suspect someone will pick it up and it will live on. 

Posted June 23, 2009 6:11 PM
Permalink | 4 Comments |


I see Birst (http://www.birst.com/index.shtml) is jumping on it.

"Make a Quick Switch from LucidEra"

We (InetSoft), too, offer a SaaS BI product for salesforce.com. We made sure to include immediately usable interactive dashboards, realizing SMB's can't just use tools like large enterprises can. Besides the sales channel challenges you mention, I'd add price sensitivity as a challenge. As a portfolio extension to our on-premise software offerings, SaaS BI makes sense, but as a standalone business, I think it is quite challenging.


Please refrain from pumping your company on my blog.

Neil Raden
Hired Brains

..."she found the easy start-up, simplified licensing and almost transparent integration with Salesforce.com".

Given OSS Pentaho picked it up, I don't think any of the above-mentioned benefits are likely to remain :)

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