ERP and CRM Integration Via Business Intelligence for the Cloud

The masterminds behind Crystal Reports are unveiling a new business intelligence cloud offering being sold through channel partners. Not only do solution providers get an ongoing annuity on the sale, but they can perform the integration work to link the cloud-based BI to the data source (whichever ERP/CRM solution it is, such as Oracle, Salesforce.com, SAP or something else).

Traditional VARs gaging the potential of the cloud business model may have a difficult time seeing how much money per user per month will be enough for a business to reap the benefit of the cloud. Indicee executives Mark Cunningham, CEP, and Craig Todd, director of partnerships, understand the businesses are accustomed to the big sale upfront and ongoing services after that sale. Cunningham and Todd were both part of the team that created the Crystal Reports business intelligence software–which sold to Seagate before becoming part of SAP–and decided to bring their technology expertise into the cloud.

Although Cunningham and Todd knew that business was moving into the cloud and that their expertise had revealed that channel partners are the ideal way to connect with end customers, they just didn’t know how to merge those two ideas. Said Todd to Channel Insider, “The biggest single difference in what SaaS is removes those boxes. It has initially been seen as a threat by some of our partners.”

“A lot of VARs are worried about being disintermediated. Their expertise in installing software is no longer required.But the ones we’ve been working with the last few months see it as an opportunity,” continued Todd.

Arxis Technology in Simi Valley, California, an ERP, CRM and BI specialist, is one such partner. The 25-person company has two offices in California as well as offices in Chicago and Phoenix. Director of sales and marketing Mark Severance told Channel Insider that whether the customer is deploying on-premises solutions or in the cloud solutions the revenue comes out even. “The biggest thing people are having a hard time with is that you are used to the big upfront sale. But, honestly, from our perspective, if you have great products and do a great job taking care of the customer, then there’s a business model for that you do,” explains Severance.

Severance said that the annuity part of the business (in which Arxis receives a commission per user per month on an ongoing basis) will eventually make up for the lack of large upfront sale. Additionally, Arxis can offer the integration and implementation services which customers need, which means setting up the BI solution’s data sources, whether they may be Salesforce.com or an internal CRM or ERP solution.

Arxis continues to offer traditional on-premises CRM and ERP software sales and implementation; the biggest vendor Arxis works with currently is Sage. Arxis offers a BI solution from Business Objects in on-premises and cloud form and recently added Indicee’s cloud-based BI solution for a variety of reasons. One major reason is that some customers are unable to afford an on-premises-based BI solution and thus a cloud-based solution is more economically accessible.

Severance further pointed out that most of computing is making the transition into the cloud. While companies used to feel safe having their server in-house, they now want to be able to access there data whenever, wherever they are, from whichever device they are using.

Indicee’s Cunningham and Todd also pointed out that VARs can provide their end customers with training services as well as services like change management. Said Todd, “There’s an exciting opportunity here for traditional VARs. This creates a platform that allows partners to focus on the V and A in the VAR–the value add.”

Pricing at Indicee starts at $69 per user per month, with a five-user pack priced at $150 per month. The VAR cut generally is a 20 percent commission on sales of five packs or more, calculated monthly and paid out quarterly, but Todd noted that it is dependent on how much work the VAR is completing to get the customer.

Gartner predicts sales of $150 million by 2013. Cunningham notes that SaaS is poised for growth and that if solution providers are seeking to enter the cloud, business intelligence is a lucrative starting point, even with its required integrative work. To learn more about CRM Applications in the Cloud, please visit Nubifer.com.

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    • Richard
    • April 26th, 2010

    Fascinating. The industry is picking up steam in a hurry.

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