What can you tell us about what is going on in terms of developments in the Business Intelligence realm in 2015 – and where does Solver fit into that culture?
Well, a couple of things have happened in this last year. One thing is that companies have adopted a lot of Cloud solutions, and they also still have on-premises solutions. So, what’s happened in terms of Business Intelligence is that the tools need to bring together data from the Cloud – and from in-house – so the role of a data warehouse has become a lot more important than in the past when all data was in-house. That’s a key thing that we see happening: importance of warehouse to bring data together. Another thing is just what we see every year is people want easier and easier BI tools, as the older generations from the 90’s – I’m now talking generations of BI tools – are fading out, and people don’t anymore want a full-time technical resource to sit and manage, in terms of a BI tool.
How has Solver expanded, in terms of your international reach?
In this year, we’ve added Solver Mexico in Mexico City; and we’ve added Solver Central America, which is headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica; and we also added Solver Africa, which is based in Johannesburg, South Africa. We’re constantly looking to put out more Solver offices to cover the major regions of the world and support the partners and customers.
Were there any new product or product categories that customers saw from Solver in 2015?
Yes, we released our Data Discovery tool. What that is compared to a dashboard or a formatted report writer is that it’s a tool that any end user can learn very quickly. It’s simply dragging and dropping data fields onto a screen in the browser and then, seeing the data. It gives that very easy access to any of the end users that need to answer a question that is not already in a formatted report built by a power user – or in a dashboard.
How would you describe Solver’s products’ competitive edge for BI consumers?
I think some of the things that set BI360 apart and that we always try to work on as we build new releases include of course, the ease of use we talked about earlier – to always figure out ways to make things easier to learn for the typical business user. And on another hand, it’s about making integrations easier, so that loading data into the data warehouse or using BI360 live on the data source is something that becomes also much more effortless and with less need for integration developers, particularly for standard data sources.
What does 2016 and beyond look like for the Solver BI360 roadmap?
As we see, Cloud keeps evolving and that folks are moving more data sources to the Cloud and then, keeping some of them in-house, I think what we talked about earlier about the importance of the data warehouse is just going to evolve. What we’re doing in BI360 is, of course, keep enhancing the data warehouse, so that companies in the mid-market, and even the lower mid-market and upper mid-market that don’t have these in-house data warehouse architects to build homegrown data warehouses, can very easily adopt and expand the use of the BI360 data warehouse, so that’s a really big thing. We’re going to release more Cloud connectors for the same reason so that it becomes very easy to get to otherwise hard-to-get-to Cloud data sources, whether that’s generic things like Google Analytics for people’s web site statistics. Or it could be that they move to a Cloud ERP system, so we make it easy to get that data into BI360. And of course, BI360 itself is moving toward the true public Cloud, where data will be moving between on-premises sources, Cloud data sources, and into the BI360 Cloud for customers that want that type of deployment. Those are a couple of the things: integrations, more enhancements on the warehouse, more Cloud connectors, and of course, on the existing very important products, like Budgeting, Reporting, and Dashboards, everything is being enhanced in our Web Portal, so that anyone that’s growing and that wants to deploy BI360 in the browser, as compared to in our Excel add-in, especially for end users, we want that to be a very strong experience, so we’re going to keep adding a lot more there, too.
Finally, what are some upcoming major events for Solver and the BI world in 2016 that we should be aware of and get excited for?
We’re always excited about our annual user conference. In 2016, we’re moving that from Marina del Rey, here in Los Angeles, and down to a very beautiful resort in San Diego. That’s at the end of August, and we hope to see all of our customers and partners there. Next year, in 2016, that will include two training days for people that want technical training before the conference, and there will be the Partner Day that we introduced in 2014, and there will be the two pure customer days. Lots of fun, lots of training, lots of networking, so we’re very excited about that. In addition, we’ll be at a lot of other vendors’ conferences, such as Microsoft Convergence, the Dynamics Summit, Sage conferences because we have a lot of integrations to Sage tools now, Acumatica conference, Intacct conference, and so on.