“We’re not a big data company, we’re a big insights company” says Sonny Rivera, the VP of IT at Equipment Data Associations (EDA), even as his company has found incredible success in collecting and analyzing large amounts of industry data to extract valuable market insights. Yet, EDA has just made the transition from being a data provider to an insights provider–now serving market wisdom to 12 different industries that require financing for heavy capital purchases like construction, machine tools, and agriculture.
Even though EDA has always been extremely popular among companies that build big name equipment, like John Deere and Caterpillar, since it was founded in 1998, this year EDA generated over seven figures in revenue. The burning question: How did EDA transform itself from a data provider to a provider of valuable and actionable insights? Simple: EDA decided to invest in a business intelligence tool, Sisense, to simplify data management and data distribution processes. In doing so, they gained a reporting system that delivers quick and actionable insights, as well as a significant ROI boost.
Excel Pivot Tables and the Data Preparation Nightmare
Before Sisense, Sonny was wrestling with big data and the complicated data preparation process of trying to aggregate, analyze, and deliver meaningful information to clients–fast. Sonny was plagued by the cumbersome process of building many pivot tables in Excel on numerous tabs, and then giving people an import function to import their raw data just so they could see dynamic reports in Excel. “There were a number of problems,” Sonny said, “for example, Excel would limit the amount of rows in a report, or the report was slow, or people just didn’t know how to use it.”
EDA also ran into problems distributing the data reports to thousands of different clients, all while keeping the data as fresh as possible with constant updates. Plus, it wasn’t just about data delivery, it was about gleaming insights. “Our clients wanted to know not only lists of data regarding the market, but also the trends and tendencies,” explained Sonny about the challenge that emerges even after aggregating data. Between the manual labor, lag time, and customized client requests, Sonny was living the classic data preparation nightmare.
Choosing Sisense From a Popular BI Shortlist: Birst, QlikView, Tableau and Logi Analytics
During its search for the best BI solution, EDA created a feature checklist that measured: the ability and speed of the tool to aggregate and process the data, the user interface, and the value and insights each managed to extract from the data. Sonny chose Sisense only after investigating several BI solutions – including Birst, QlikView, Tableau and Logi Analytics, by running a full Proof of Concept (POC) using EDA’s own data.
While each solution had its pros and cons, only Sisense provided the “full package” of business intelligence and data analytics. Sonny explained:
“Birst was too immature and costly; QlikView had memory and performance problems; Tableau’s user interface was great, but the analytics weren’t useful whatsoever. Tableau is pretty, but there’s no substance.”
Sonny narrowed down the options to Logi XML and Sisense. While Logi XML worked well, the user interface and user experience were awkward, requiring a more technically savvy user to navigate through the system. That wouldn’t work within the company, or with EDA’s clients. After comparing all the tools, Sisense was the clear choice.
Quick On-boarding and Millions in Revenue in the First Year
Now, EDA uses Sisense to monetize its aggregated data by creating industry-specific products. Within 90 days from purchasing Sisense, EDA launched a new product for the trucking industry called, “Weekly Business Intelligence”. In a 9-month period, EDA generated 7 figures of revenue from just this product.
“The ROI is really impressive and the response from our clients is great. We’re getting amazing feedback from clients who say they love the data analysis and reports. Now our clients are requesting a custom interface and we’re building that with the tools provided by Sisense.”
EDA uses Sisense as an integral part of its growth strategy. Two major uses include: business intelligence dashboards that get the product out quickly to customers; and customization capabilities. In the last two years, Sonny has rolled out to the trucking industry two new products on Sisense.
In 2013, less than a year after implementation, Sisense was used to generate seven figures of revenue. These revenues are expected to double in 2014 . Sonny explained: “Up until last year, we were doing a lot of manual jobs for our customers. Last fall we converted most of those processes to Sisense. What would once take about 5 days to process, today we’ve cut this down to a day, or in some cases to as short as 30 minutes.”
Use a BI Tool to Offer a Simple Trial Process & Streamline Sales
As part of its growth strategy, EDA has productized its data analysis. Because Sisense is so configurable, it has made it possible for EDA to offer free product trials to prospective customers, and has completely transformed the company’s trial and sales process, as Sonny outlines:
“As a data provider, one big problem is maintaining the integrity and value of data products while enabling prospects to try out products. With Sisense we’re able to give our potential clients access to the aggregate data during the trial, and still protect our detailed data. Now prospects can see the value in our product, without our having to volunteer too much. Also, what was once a long trial process is now a run-of-mill setup, with a finite data set. Before Sisense, we couldn’t offer free trials because we didn’t have a way to protect our data. Sisense really simplified our trial and streamlined our sales.”
Repeating BI Success in Other EDA Products
Adding customization and actionable analytics seems to be the big push for 2014. According to Sonny, EDA uses Sisense’s web interface as a way to customize cubes [Sisense Elasticubes] for high performance. “The ability to merge the user’s data with our data and then run analytics on it, that’s a real push on the EDA online product,” Sonny said. “From a technology perspective, we really enjoy that we don’t have to buy new hardware to make it run. Being able to spin up a beta environment or a new production environment has also been tremendous for us.”
Because the cost of development with Sisense is significantly less than alternatives, EDA has been able to bring their product to market fast and enjoy significant returns. Success with the first product was so great that now EDA is looking to create additional products with Sisense.
“We couldn’t have delivered [our product] to the market so fast and we couldn’t have gotten such performance out of it without Sisense. And the margins are terrific. Now that we’ve proven the case with Sisense, we can bring the same success to other products.