Straight Talk

When I applied for my first mortgage in 1996, I qualified for almost five times what I needed. The issue was I only wanted the amount I was looking for and could afford. The broker tried to explain to me that I didn’t understand, I could get a lot bigger house. I explained I didn’t need a bigger house or mortgage, so I bought the house I could afford and I was glad I did. This may not be the best time for this analogy, sorry. How about this one? If I went to buy a car and someone tried to sell me a top fuel dragster, I would say it’s too much. The sales person may say, “I can give it to you for the same price as that Taurus.” The question would be how much would it cost me to get it running and pay a crew to maintain it.

It seems that this is generally what happens in the business intelligence software space. Sales people and consultants present their software to small businesses and say it is really “easy to use”. They like to throw in that the customer gets so much more for the money than standalone dashboard software. The problem is the word ’easy’. We had a consultant demonstrate one of the “all in one software for a cheap price” to our sales team recently. Of course, it is cheap until you start adding all the pieces together that you will need, simple things like security. Most of our sales team’s eyes glazed over as he demonstrated an extremely complex product and called it ’easy’. It was easy to him because he has 20 years of experience as an IT consultant with a master’s degree in computer science. How many small businesses have someone on staff like that or even have access to such people within their budget?

My point is that ’easy’ is in the eye of the beholder, it’s a very relative term. As a buyer of dashboard software, make sure to get your hands on the software or have someone in your organization evaluate the software to make sure it is something you can handle. If the company can’t provide that, run for the hills or drilldown on what it will take to install, configure, use and support the application.

Dave Ferguson, iDashboards