The Masses Against The Classes

“When you open BI to the masses, people get a taste of what they can do and start demanding more and more information and analytics” Dan Vesset, IDC analyst, Computerworld, June 21, 2004

“Let them eat cake”. Marie Antoinette, Versailles, 1789

I’ve always found the BI industry’s fascination with elitism a throwback to the old days of IT. It seems that most of the industry calls users with no access to their tools “the masses”. And it gets worse. Bloggers from Endeca call them half jokingly “the angry mobs” and SAP has BI for “the rest of us”. All these words describe a business user who doesn’t have the time or skills to operate a complex BI solution designed for electrical engineers (who go by the name of IT). BI has penetration rate of 10% and everybody else is “the rest of us”.

It’s not just BI. The telco industry thinks their customers reside in “the last mile” – as far away from what’s important (the core of the network) as you can get. Shouldn’t their customers be in “the first mile”? And now BI is adopting the same “last mile” language, and the intent is the same: “keep my business users as far away as possible so I can focus on the core of my BI system.”

Making BI accessible to the “angry mobs” is in contradiction with BI industry’s quest for ever more complexity and hype. Petabyte warehouses, data visualization, social media analytics, predictive clustering, corporate performance management are the current industry buzzwords. Press releases and PowerPoint charts are full of names like Pig, Hadoop and Hive. These trends and tools were designed for the selected few; not for the average business user.

My vision for GoodData was always very different. Our goal is to get rid of the convoluted BI value chain. We are using the economics of the cloud to offer a service that can be used by a business audience. I am on a personal mission to support “the masses against the classes” and to build BI that is not a dumbed down version of an expensive, complex and brittle enterprise solution. I’ve always believed that the enterprise data warehouse is the place where data goes to die, leaving the poor business users with Excel spreadmarts.

This is why we just announced a fully integrated and free service: GoodData for Zendesk. Every Zendesk Plus+ customer gets free analytics from us; and the setup time is less than 5 minutes. And why free? We actually believe in what Dan Vesset wrote back in 2004. That once our users get a taste of what they can do with it they will start demanding more and more information and analytics. GoodData is BI for the business user. Something the elitist industry will call BI for “the masses”, “angry mobs” or even “the rest of us”…

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