The Biggest Challenges and Opportunities that Will Drive Innovation

The Biggest Challenges and Opportunities that Will Drive Innovation

Mark Cunningham joined Infostrux CEO, Goran Kimovski (Kima) for a live fireside chat. During the discussion, they covered a wide array of topics including the history of Business Intelligence, the Data Analytics industry, and technology trends that shaped and will continue to shape the industry.

Kima: I heard a mix of pessimism and optimism for the future from you, so I’m looking forward to your view. If you look ahead 5 or 10 years, what do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities that will drive innovation, and what types of innovation would you like to see happen?

Mark: From a business model perspective, we’re long in the tooth around software as a service. It’s been around for a while and I think we’re a little bit stuck in this concept of seat-based pricing and individual user-based pricing. There are different models such as usage-based pricing that I think we need to see more of. 

All the BI vendors talk about democratizing data – this was what we did at Crystal Reports – our internal mantra was to build a product that everyone in the organization would use. But then we charged $300 for a subscription, or a seat. 

So I could see a model where we truly put it in the hands of everybody and just charge based on usage. Everybody gets access, there’s no cost on a per-seat basis. 

So the question is: how do we innovate and still be able to monetize, but put it in the hands of everybody?

This usually ends up being some form of usage-base or access-base pricing model that I think is needed. So my prediction of the future is, somebody is going to do this, and I don’t know how they’re going to do it and what this looks like exactly. 

Technically speaking, I think there will be slicker and easier ways to access data from anywhere, from any device. Whether you are a developer building an app or you’re using a tool set, there’s some kind of a data-as-a-service layer type of concept that will start to come into play once all the data is in the cloud that will allow more of a free flow. Then the tooling vendors can start with sitting on top of this layer and make it a lot easier. I mean, we still have a lot of these desktop tools like a Tableau that require CSV files. We’re just not quite there yet. So I’m hoping we can eliminate that. What that looks like, I don’t know, but I’m excited to see some start-ups that might have some great ideas.

Kima: I like the framing of data-as-a-service layer. It speaks to why I chose Snowflake to partner with because they are making that investment. Perhaps more innovation is needed, but I like that concept. We had infrastructure-as-a-service layer for a long time, and there are strong players and the cloud revolves around them. I love those technologies and I’ve built a successful business before around those technologies. But data is the next frontier. Funny enough, going back to 25 years in the industry and we are still trying to solve the same problems. But it feels like it’s the next frontier where there could be a breakthrough – call it ‘the new cloud’. That is an exciting opportunity for me. Hopefully, in ten years we’re not still talking about the same problem.

Mark – I don’t want to leave with a pessimistic view – I think there’s a lot of opportunity. There needs to be some more radical thinking and bravery to be able to embark on those new initiatives.

You have VCs investing and everybody wants to make money, which can sometimes be an impediment to innovation. People are trying to figure out how to make money at the same time that they are trying to innovate, do something crazy, and make that big change. There are certainly more big IPOs on the horizon like Snowflake that I think are going to be in the space, so we’ll have to wait and see. 

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