2014: A Year in Review with Solver's CEO

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I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Solver CEO, Nils Rasmussen, to discuss developments in the BI sector and how Solver fits into the growing and competitive marketplace.  He explains evolutions for BI processes and the software that you utilize to achieve data management and analysis, as well as what is on the horizon for BI360 as a leading solution on the market today.


What exactly have you seen in the BI sector in the past year, and where do you see Solver fitting into that equation?
I think one of the biggest things we have seen this past year is that consumers, meaning our customers, have gotten more educated about BI.  For many people so far, BI has been a report writer or a budget module in a software or accounting system.  Now, more and more customers are seeing that BI means a lot more.  It means really all types of access to your data, and it means making sense out of that data, so you can make decisions faster.  Whether that’s better forecasting tools, better reporting tools, better dashboards, better data warehousing, people are getting educated and seeing that all of this actually fits into one equation.  That’s probably the biggest thing we’ve seen.  Of course, we’ve seen Cloud popularity rise, and we’ve seen a few more BI vendors in the space, and I think we see more and more attention to BI in general.
How has Solver grown or expanded internationally?
Solver, this year, we’re still in 2014, we have launched Solver Mexico; we have launched Solver Italy; we have launched Solver UK; and recently, we also got started in India.
What new product releases did customers see from Solver in 2014?
Apart from the usual entry releases, where we have a few new features here and there in different modules, probably the biggest thing was our Dashboards module.  We released that at the beginning of the year, and we’ve seen great traction with it.  It’s been a very important addition to the BI360 suite.
How do Solver’s BI products, now on mobile devices, benefit the customer?
Well, I’ll look at myself.  I’m travelling a lot, so in the past, the alternative would have been to sit down with my laptop, let’s say at the airport if I want to see our results for the month or the sales for the week, connect to the internet with my laptop, open a browser, and then go in and look at a dashboard or a report.  Now, with a mobile app, I can literally be standing in line at the gate, waiting for the airplane, and I can open a report and run it right there, even drill down, with one hand, and I can do all of that maybe in one, one and a half minute instead of the usual laptop exercise with browsers and internet connections and so on. So, I think that’s the biggest benefit with Mobile BI – it’s just faster and easier when you’re on the go to get to the data.  Of course, if you’re an accountant and you’re in the office all day long, you’re probably not going to look at your P&L or your sales report on your little mobile screen.  You’re going to look at your computer screen, but for people on the go, it’s great.
Give us an idea of what is to come with BI360 in 2015 and beyond.
Well, that’s an exciting question.  In 2015, probably some of the biggest things we’ll be doing, apart from the normal releases of existing versions, is that we’re going to launch a Data Discovery module, so that you can sit anywhere in your browser and slice and dice your data with pretty much no training.  Very, very important functionality, I would say, compared to report writing, dashboards, and budgeting.  Apart from that, we will also launch an Android platform, so if you’re on Android mobile devices, you can also get very easy access to your data.  And finally, we’re expanding the functionality of our web portal, so it’s going to be very collaborative, so wherever you have reports, budgets, or dashboards, you can also have full-on discussions, let’s say, between the department head and the CFO, explaining variances, asking questions – things you normally wouldn’t see with the classic comment fields that ordinary BI tools have had.  Those are some of the things in the short run.  Of course, over multiple years into the future, we will keep making things more user friendly.  That’s always a huge goal, so that, less and less, you need to read user manuals or go to classes to learn basic functionality.  Of course, everything is slowly, but surely getting more and more Cloud functionality, so that you have a choice as a customer where you are going to deploy BI360.
Can you tell me, finally, what are some major events that are coming up for Solver or BI customers in 2015 that you think people should know about?
This year has been very busy in 2014.  I think we did more than 40 events.  Next year is probably going to be just as busy.  Some of the biggest ones include Microsoft Convergence.  We always bring a lot of people from Solver to meet partners and customers.  We’re also going to other major vendor conferences, for those vendors like Sage, Acumatica, and Intacct, and we’re going to our partners’ own local user conferences.  Of course, we have Solver’s Focus 2015, which is here in Los Angeles, where we hope to have a record number of customers and partners this year.  That’s in August.