Solver Celebrates 20 Years: Executive Interview, Part 1

I recently sat down with the leadership team at Solver to discuss the 20th anniversary of launching the organization.  The following is the first in a series, where they talk about how the organization came about, where they have gone and been, why they launched BI360 and more, as they move toward a cloud deployment option in 2017.  CEO Nils Rasmussen, COO Corey Barak, CIO Hadrian Knotz, and CTO Mike Applegate all chimed in about the successes and challenges that they have faced – and what they are most proud of on this anniversary.

Can you tell us how Solver came to be 20 years ago?

Nils Rasmussen: Solver came to be 20 years ago because we saw that the world needed a better financial consolidation, reporting, and budgeting solution.  The way that the name of the company came about was, we said, what are we actually doing for the customer? We realized that we are solving problems, so that was pretty easy.  We became Solver – and the baby was born.

How has Solver’s strategic focus changed over the years?

Mike Applegate: Since I started back in 1999, we certainly have gone through several transitions as our strategic focus has shifted.  When I started, we were a consulting firm.  We were selling and implementing a BI product from a company called Great Plains.  That tool was basically focused on enterprise and multi-national type customers with very advanced reporting, consolidation, and budgeting needs.  That went really well, and we learned so much about the industry for many years.  We finally realized, mid-2000s, that it was time for us to build our own product.  And that’s where we took a major shift in our strategy and started Solver as a software company.  Now, we’re on our next transition for 2017 as we take our company from the BI360 product we know today as an on-premise tool, globally sold, to a cloud service tool as well as a hybrid tool, so this is a big shift for us – 2016 and 2017.

What is your proudest Solver achievement?

Corey Barak: As both Mike and Nils mentioned, we used to sell other products.  We had three products going at once that were from other tools: Enterprise Reporting from Great Plains, Performance Point Server from Microsoft, and XL Reporter, which was a live reporting tool.  Within a two year period, all of them were going away.  Instead of trying to find another product, we went out with our knowledge, and we decided to create our own tool, BI360.  That’s where we are today.  It’s what has made us a company of 20 years: we don’t wait, we take action, we go forward, and make the best product – and that’s what BI360 is.

Tell us about developing BI360.

Hadrian Knotz: BI360, I think, originally came from the idea that we have to start creating a fully formed platform that had all of the features that we need for BI for the customer – dashboarding, financial reporting, budgeting, and the data warehouse, all the four pillars we have in our current suite today – that didn’t exist in a single product anywhere in the marketplace before then.  We have, at this point, gotten many of our customers, who have been on our older products we implemented for 10, 15 years in some cases, transition to our new product, BI360.  The biggest challenge with that is getting them to start thinking outside the box of financial reporting and think about data warehousing, enterprise data management in general, and how to expand the opportunities that present themselves with BI360.

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