Churn as a Leaky Sink

Just like water entering a sink and then finding its way down the drain, your *aaS (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS) business will likely always have customers leaving and sales coming in.

While it doesn’t really matter too much (at least in the context of this post) whether water coming out of the faucet at high rate or low rate, what does matter is the size of the leak at the bottom… the water going out.

First of all, is the drain wide open?  If it is, your company is doing more to drive customers away than you are to acquire them.  Figure out an effective customer insights strategy and close that drain! Setup effective surveys, reporting, and a churn action committee to address the reasons why your customers are leaving.

The drain will leak. No matter what you do, you will always have a customer cancel due to death or other reasons outside your control.  Do you know how much your sink leaks?  Again an effective system of capturing data and listening to customers is important.

But, you can go one step further by simply investing in a dedicated analytics team.  Let them model churn and build predict future customers who are likely to churn. During this process, they will identify the key drivers of churn and the company can then build a proactive strategy to engaging and saving the customers that prevent your growth.

Before you know it, that sink is a little small for the water you’ve collected, so you have to upgrade to a bigger sink.  Just make sure you don’t buy a bigger drain with it.

LogiXML – Redefining Reporting and Business Intelligence

I had the pleasure of sitting in on a demo of LogiXML today and must say that I am quite impressed. Super simple to use and integration is superb using .NET or Java. I downloaded the trial, so I will post some screenshots after I have to play! 😉

What is Business Intelligence?

I am currently evaluating different solutions to solve my company’s business intelligence dilenma.  The dilenma is that we don’t have one currently. 

After tweeting about business intelligence and looking through some options, I was somewhat surprised to see a number of solutions that covered just reporting and dashboards, or in other words, were simply infrastructure that allows the sharing of data in various forms.  There was no ETL solution, there was no database, there were just just numbers and charts offered up on a server.

This contradicts what business intelligence is in my mind.  Business Intelligence is an end to end solution that includes three parts:

1) ETL solution that allows you to gather data, transform it and place it somewhere else.  Talend and Kettle are examples.

2) A database that houses that transformed data and is reported in part 3.  Vertica, Oracle, and MySQL are examples.

3) A data visualization tool that reads data from the database and reports it based on user parameters in various types of visualizations that allow end users to interact with the data.  These may or may not include additional analytical JasperSoft, Pentaho, and BIRT are examples. 

So when looking at these solutions, JasperSoft and Pentaho come to mind as true end to end solutions.  Business Objects is also an example of an enterprise solution.  

Another catch phrase, perhaps, I would like to mention is “BI Stack”.    I firmly believe that this concept of BI Stack acknowledges that there aren’t many true end to end business intelligence solutions out there.  In the case of the BI stack, we are talking about combining solutions that cover the three phases above.  In fact, RightScale offers a BI Stack for the cloud that includes Talend (ETL), Vertica (database) and JasperSoft (reporting/visualization).  

So what is Business Intelligence?  Is it reporting? Is it ETL?  Is it none of the above?