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I last looked at Board about three years ago at which point I was really impressed by its abilities. Board is a point and click BI tool, which despite having such a seemingly non-technical front end is capable of developing solutions of real sophistication and capability. In addition whilst in most other BI suites the reporting traditional BI element is one tool and the Corporate Performance Monitoring element, the financial modelling and reporting element in another (Oracle, IBM and SAP all have this distinction) with Board it’s all in the one tool. When I last looked at the tool although it struck me as being an Enterprise level tool, the majority of its user base was still in the middle tier rather than the top. But since then the world has changed and we have seen the cloud start to turn the old order of what was seen as the safe way to manage enterprise level data turned on its head, and with Big Data the expectation of the cost and the ability to scale have been radically altered. As such I was anxious to see what has been going on at Board.
Board continues to grow rapidly. It now has over 3500 customers, over 100 partners and has had its seventh year of 20% plus growth. So clearly there are more people than just myself who think that a single unified decision making platform is a far better idea, in a world in which we are struggling to break down siloed thinking, than assembling a mix and match of so called best of breed solutions. That customer base is also global, so this is not a tool that has limited geographic support.
Why I liked it was that I was really impressed by the productivity and capability of the visual build front end, but what really won me over was that within the same tool, you have the traditional BI elements, of reporting, scorecarding, dashboards etc, the things that Tableau and Qlik would have you believe is the be all and end all of the decision making universe; but in addition you had performance management, covering budgeting, forecasting financial consolidation etc, and this has now been extended to look beyond financial data to really tackle Operational analysis as well as things like capacity management, inventory and forecasting. And as if that were not enough it also has predictive analytics, the statistical analysis, forecasting and simulation capabilities. Board can connect to data coming from legacy data sources, RDBMS, the Cloud, OLAP cubes, Big data, and desktop sources such as Excel via its ETL capabilities, so it is very complete. Another feature that is important is that the tool coming from the financial modelling background also features write back capability so that projections can be written back and added to the pool of available data.
So what’s new? Well, essentially, if you look at their customer base there are far more well known big names appearing there as users. In addition they have now been selected as the tool of choice by KPMG the consultants to build solutions for their clients. Their partners include not just KPMG but also Accenture, EY and PwC, so they are clearly a trusted vendor by those discerning companies.
Unlike some of their competitors, their tool works in the Cloud without any compromise.
They are winning because they can prove their capability. It’s not just the promise of marketing slides but it is proven in building real life Proof of Concept, which shows the speed to deliver and also the performance of the tool. The tool is mature and proven. The company is profitable and secure so this really is a secure long term investment.
In looking at who they have competed against and won it’s an impressive picture of taking on the established order of the likes of Microstrategy, IBM, Oracle, Business Objects, but also the challengers such as Yellowfin, Tableau and Qlik.
So what you have is a mature capable single tool, that runs in the Cloud, is capable of scaling, builds solutions rapidly, is performant, and looks pretty future proof. So three years ago I was really impressed and I can confidently reaffirm my belief that Board is one of the leading BI platforms available today. As we demand more agility and an ability to integrate and transform business by breaking down silos I think that Board are a market leader.