Are Dashboards a luxury item?

It depends, whom you are asking? For e.g. if you ask a millionaire, is Lexus or BMW a luxury? He might say it is a necessity rather than a luxury item. For him, it could be a necessity to maintain and project a status whereas for anybody not-so-rich it could clearly be a luxury item.

Similarly, Dashboards at the Fortune 500 companies could be a clear necessity whereas for a small or medium sized company it could be perceived as a luxury. The SMBs are getting their things done with the traditional reporting that they already invested in so there might be no need to look into other options of reporting.

The thing about luxury is “If you taste it, it might become a necessity”. So where am I going with all these luxury and necessity analogies?

Looking deeper into the marketing problems I am facing with my product InfoCaptor, it becomes clearer to me as to what are the reasons behind it.

1. Business Intelligence and Dashboards is perceived to be a domain of Big vendors (like Oracle, Hyperion, Cognos, Business Objects)
2. Corporates like to deal with corporates of their kind
3. Corporates feel that every product or application that they buy should be Server based/ Heavy duty and Expensive.

I decided to jump into BI and Dashboards for the exact opposite reasons even though the market is overcrowded and is tough to create a crack where I can fit in.

I did not want to create a bloated server based solution(all of the dashboarding tools in the market today are server based). One of the reason behind server based is to ease the deployment to the end users. So if deployment is the key, I can very well achieve the same using Java Webstart and it has been working fine.

The thing about web interface is you want it to behave more like a rich client interface so you start adding interactivity to it using AJAX and related stuff. Today it is AJAX but nowhere near the rich client interface, so tomorrow it could be something else and every iteration trying to be the rich client and still be called as browser based interface.

This is something I cannot fathom, maybe I am biased but if you really need interactivity
what is wrong in going with the rich client tools?

I am trying to position my product as “Quick and Easy Dashboarding tool” for the small and medium businesses which is totally opposite of all the other dashboarding tools. You don’t need specialized trained resources to develop or maintain it, you can deploy it on a web-server, your PC or USB drive.

But the bottom line is, it seems like a luxury item for SMBs and this could be my problem!!!

So what are my options? I have just begun marketing my product so I cannot conclude anything. All I can do is keep
innovating the product with new features and pushing it. I have a multi-year and multi-product plan and strategy.

Another thought that aroused a couple of weeks back were to leverage my code base and create some small utilities out of it.

This idea looks very promising so I added some new features into the main product, a small reporting engine to create
Briefing books” from the dashboard contents.

I am going to slowly strip InfoCaptor code base and convert them into utilities, which would fall in the “necessity” category.

The good thing is I know where my problem is and what are my limitations. I have begun to identify some of the strengths and will start leveraging that.

I want to document each and every turn that leads me to success so one day I can look back and amuse myself 🙂

If you were in my position, what would you do? Any suggestions?

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