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Domo and the Demand for Democratic BI

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Posted February 13, 2014 By Ann All     Feedback

Founder Josh James' track record doesn't hurt, but growing demand for more democratic business intelligence is behind the big bucks going to startup Domo.

When Enterprise Apps Today asked experts to pick their top business intelligence trends for 2014, we came up with a list of seven. A single, overarching theme – the need to make BI more accessible and understandable to larger numbers of people – underscored nearly all of the trends.

Mark Torr, director of the SAS Analytical Platform Center of Excellence, tapped the growing influence of business users as his biggest trend. "… We will see a move to focus on business problems, which will shift the thinking from infrastructure components – like Hadoop and technologies that manage it, such as Pig and MapReduce – to solutions that are not only capturing and managing data but which are able to exploit data for business benefit without needing an army of coders," he said.

David Smith, vice president of Marketing and Community at Revolution Analytics, predicted continued growth of analytics embedded in enterprise applications. "In 2014, business decision makers will be empowered through easy-to-use tools that leverage the insights of data scientists, by providing real-time forecasts and recommendations in the BI tools they already use," he said.

Despite this seemingly obvious desire to get more "ordinary" folks using business intelligence, it remains an elusive goal. According to a Dresner Advisory Services study published last May, fewer than 20 percent of users had access to BI in nearly 60 percent of surveyed organizations.

This gap between current reality and the desired state is at least part of what is driving investments like this month's $125 million funding round for Domo, a three-year-old business intelligence startup that has quietly signed up 500 customers, including such notable names as Xerox Corp., National Geographic and H&R Block. The latest investment brings Domo's total raised to date to $250 million.

According to a statement released by Domo founder and CEO Josh James, sales at Domo are growing between 25 percent and 40 percent a quarter. Its list of marquee investors includes Benchmark, Fidelity Investments, Founders Fund, GGV Capital, Greylock Partners, IVP, Salesforce.com, TPG Growth, T. Rowe Price, WPP and Zetta Venture Partners.

Fortune called James "the wildest, craziest, most death-defying (Mormon) mogul on the planet" in its profile of him. Prior to founding Domo in 2010, he co-founded and served as CEO of Omniture, a Web analytics company he took public in 2006 and sold to Adobe for $1.8 billion in 2009.

According to the Domo website, the company "transforms the way executives manage their business and drives value from the tens of billions of dollars that's been spent on traditional business intelligence systems." The site, which has an image of a snazzy-looking Domo dashboard, stresses the democratic nature of the product. "Anyone -- from CEO to contributor -- has the ability to discover, mash up, visualize and present data any way they’d like."

More Immediate Business Intelligence

Domo's software includes several key capabilities that business intelligence experts have been talking about for quite some time: mobility, real-time alerts and visualization, all of which are facilitated by building its BI platform on the cloud.

When I interviewed the Business Application Research Center's Barney Finucane in late 2011, he told me about what he called "a strong correlation" between mobile business intelligence and real-time analytics. "Both things are about immediacy. Real time analytics is about getting the data right now, and mobile is about seeing the data right now. So they complement each other," he said.

A Dresner Advisory Services study released in the summer of 2012 found that 54 percent of business intelligence initiatives were being led by business units rather than IT organizations. Respondents ranked dashboards and end-user self-service as the features most important to BI success.

Business respondents were far likelier than their IT counterparts to express interest in cloud-based business intelligence and social media analysis, Howard Dresner told me. Business people are "… looking for immediacy. They don’t have nine, 12, 16 months to get it done. They can go to the cloud and get BI up and running in short order."

Saugatuck Technology found a similar impetus for cloud-based business intelligence in its research, predicting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 84 percent for cloud BI from 2011 to 2013.

Much of the buzz surrounding Domo is not doubt due to James' young-gun reputation and Omniture's success. But more important to investors, and ultimately to customers, the company seems ready to capitalize on the growing demand for more immediate and pervasive business intelligence.

Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.

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