AI Analyzes Infor’s Intent to Acquire Birst, A Cloud BI Trailblazer

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On April 25th, enterprise application company Infor announced that it planned to acquire Birst, one of the leaders in the standalone Cloud BI world. Birst is expected to remain as a standalone solution and Infor will become Birst’s largest ISV as Birst becomes the analytic back-end for Infor-based applications. Amalgam Insights (AI) finds this to be interesting based on our long history of analyzing Birst.
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At Domopalooza 17, Amalgam Insights Looks Behind the Hype

Josh James at Domopalooza
Josh James at Domopalooza
Josh James at Domopalooza

Recently, Amalgam Insights (AI) had the opportunity to attend Domopalooza in Salt Lake City. Without a doubt, it was one of the most star-studded and entertaining end user events AI has attended in recent memory. Between Kesha, Jason Derulo, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Miguel, Fivethirtyeight’s Nate Silver, Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein, and Pixar President Ed Catmull, the celebrities were out in force. With the famous people and the hyperbolic claims made on stage that “WE ARE MAKING HISTORY HERE!” it is easy for a jaded industry pundit such as myself to discount the hype and wonder what makes Domo different.

But between the hype, the party, the music, the free-flowing drinks, and the bright lights, Domo also has an excited customer base that was hungry for product announcements and gave strong feedback to new Domo features.

And there were some significant announcements, such as:

Domo’s planned “Mr. Roboto,” to use predictive analytics and machine language to support both an Alert Center for anomaly detection as well as a data science capability that currently looks like a predictive analytics and algorithm toolkit to support business performance challenges.

Domo Business-in-a-Box, a set of pre-built dashboards created to support major business departments, functions, and use cases across the entire organization. AI believes these dashboards will provide a shortcut for enterprises to quickly translate enterprise data into relevant and contextualized departmental insights.

Domo Everywhere, which serves as Domo’s foray into embedded BI with White Label, Embed, and Publish options. AI believes that this capability is important in providing ubiquitous analytics and to allow end users to take advantage of business insights without having to always go back to any specific platform or software solution.

As well as feature improvements such as increased chart options, time-series and period based views, data slicing, and the industry pundits’ favorite: Domo Data Lineage, which got a fair amount of attention in its ability to track data sources, actions, quality, and timeliness. Although Domo is portraying Data Lineage as a feature enhancement for Domo Analyzer, AI believes that Domo will be pleasantly surprised at the enterprise need and interest for Data Lineage, as data governance and data trust have been increasingly trendy concerns for enterprise analytics.

Domo’s Playbook

In speaking with Domo executives, salespeople, and customers, AI also started to see a consistent playbook emerge around Domo that demonstrated how, beyond the hype, the platform started to work as a business insight platform compared to other cloud BI or traditional BI products. Behind the hype, here is what actually seems to be happening for Domo at a high level to gain enterprise adoption.

1) Domo speaks to an executive or key business manager who is stuck with some manual process that requires excessive spreadsheet or Microsoft Access usage. These use cases tend to be focused on marketing, sales, operations, or finance use cases that align with current trends in enterprise performance management

2) Domo is initially implemented through self-service capabilities by line of business decision makers who are able to integrate data with little to no IT support. Once Domo conducts deeper due diligence on the enterprise-wide need for analytics, an analytics or IT management takes the lead within the organization to connect Domo with data from the rest of the company.

3) Domo product deployment and implementation is generally accepted by customers to be simpler than traditional performance management systems such as Hyperion or Cognos as well as simpler than other traditional BI systems.

4) Once Domo is in place, the executive stakeholder and IT manager work together in bringing all relevant departmental data into Domo by hunting down the spreadsheets and local dark data that have traditionally driven the manual process.

5) After this initial implementation and win, Domo gets additional attention internally based on the ease of creating report, the efficacy that these departments see in supporting analytic insights, and the usage rates associated with Domo

This roadmap may not sound like rocket science, but the devil has always been in the details. By connecting the dots between executives, IT, implementation roadblocks, data ingestion, and employee utilization rates, Domo has quickly grown to a $120 million+ annual run rate over the past several years.

AI Observations on the State of Domo

AI notes that Domo has some very specific strengths as a business-oriented insight solution. Its DNA makes it very focused on user interaction, collaboration, and graphic design which results in a front-end product that can be extremely engaging compared to other perceived competitors in the cloud BI space such as Birst, GoodData, and Looker as well as data discovery competitors such as
Qlik and Tableau. One of the most clever things Domo has done is to create “Cards” to display specific data, where each card shows how often the data is being accessed and provides guidance on whether end users are using the data that they should be aware of. Domo’s App Design Studio also can publish with Adobe Illustrator, which provides massive graphic advantages over a variety of other analytic app studios. (And was highlighted on the keynote stage in showing an application built by GE Digital’s Kim Schuhman.)

GE Digitals Kim Schuhman presenting Domo app developed with Adobe Illustrator
GE Digitals Kim Schuhman presenting Domo app developed with Adobe Illustrator

However, Domo has also invested mightily in its own back end technologies as well, including a high performance massively parallel processing columnar database, data warehousing, and 450+ native integrations. AI wonders if Domo needs to continue investing in all of these areas on an ongoing basis or whether it would be more fruitful for Domo to create high-value named partnerships, such as Tableau has created with Informatica or GoodData has created with HP Vertica, to solve some of the back-end and integration challenges. At the end of the day, AI is impressed with Domo’s focus on data collection, process improvement, and user engagement areas where they are truly excellent.

That aside, Domo has built a full-fledged business intelligence platform with a strong focus on supporting usability and adoption. With a loyal customer base, a user experience that seems popular both with end users and with report builders, and an aggressive product roadmap to accelerate time-to-value and integrate machine learning into the platform, AI believes that Domo is well positioned to continue competing in the business intelligence and analytics markets by combining analytic consumption, business process alignment, data aggregation and data integration.