I want to take a quick breather from writing about corporate innovation and return to another topic of this blog: big data and insight as a service. Host Analytics, one of my portfolio companies, recently completed a $25M financing round. Host Analytics offers a cloud-based Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Suite that streamlines a corporation’s planning, close, consolidation and reporting processes. But it is what they are enabling for the enterprise that is important to write about. Host Analytics has moved from being an EPM company, to being an insight generation company.
On July 15 IBM and Apple announced an exclusive partnership. There are several components to this partnership that have been addressed elsewhere (here and here) but of most interest was the commitment to develop 100 industry-specific mobile analytic applications for the enterprise. As I had written, the broad adoption of smartphones and tablets by employees, customers and partners, combined with a BYOD strategy, is driving corporations to rethink their enterprise application strategies. They are starting to mobilize existing applications and embrace a mobile-first approach for the new applications they are licensing or developing internally. Analytics-based insight-generation applications represent a major category of these new applications. Recognizing this trend, I and many other venture investors, have been aggressively funding startups that develop mobile enterprise applications.
The survey data presented in Pacific Crest’s SaaS workshop pointed to the need for a variety of data analytic services. These services can be offered under the term Insight-as-a-Service. They can range from business benchmarking, e.g., compare one business to its peers’ that are also customers of the same SaaS vendor, to business process improvement recommendations based on a SaaS application’s usage, e.g., reduce the amount spent on search keywords by using the SEM application’s keyword optimization module, to improving business practices by integrating syndicated data with a client’s own data, e.g., reduce the response time to customer service requests by crowdsourcing responses. Today I wanted to explore Insight-as-a-Service as I think it can be the next layer in the cloud stack and can prove the real differentiator between the existing and next-generation SaaS applications (see also here, and Salesforce’s acquisition of Jigsaw).