Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How I Used TrustRadius to Switch to Salesforce

This story is based on an interview with TrustRadius member, Al Schoneman. Al is Director of Marketing at Power Analytics Corporation.  He joined TrustRadius a year ago and wrote an in-depth review of WordPress and Pardot.  

Al Schoneman is the marketing director at Power Analytics Corporation, a company that creates, markets and supports software used to design and develop power systems. However, Al was struggling earlier this year to pinpoint the right software combination for Power Analytics' needs.

"I had some real frustration evaluating marketing automation solutions," Al said. "We were looking at some pretty big development costs to integrate our marketing automation with our CRM system."

Al is active in LinkedIn groups for marketers and also in several software user groups.  A member of one pointed him toward TrustRadius to source a more objective and comprehensive overview of the products he was considering. 

The company had just begun to use Pardot for marketing automation, and Al's boss strongly believed they should stick with their current CRM, Oracle, because he thought it worked better with their finance software and other packages. Through TrustRadius reviews, Al learned that probably wasn't quite right.

"The fact that the reviews are user written made the content invaluable to us," he said. "I couldn't find anyone on TrustRadius who had used Oracle CRM with much of anything else."

When Al finished his analysis, Power Analytics wound up migrating to Salesforce, a choice that proved better suited to the size and scope of their business. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Chart Compares Feature Availability Across 9 A/B Testing Software Products

Last month we published our first ever Buyer's Guide to A/B Testing Software, which ranked and explored the strengths and weaknesses of several A/B testing software products, based on end-user reviews on TrustRadius.

We're following up with another useful tool for companies looking to choose the right A/B testing software: A feature comparison chart, which you can download here.

The chart summarizes the availability of 22 features across 9 participating A/B testing software products. The features include multivariate testing, visitor segmentation, personalization, user roles and permissions, machine-learning / predictive capabilities, mobile app testing, and integration with web analytics tools, among others.

The software products covered include AB Tasty, Adobe Target, Google Content Experiments, Mayxmiser, Monetate, Optimizely, Qubit, SiteSpect, and Visual Website Optimizer.

If you know which features are important to you, the chart can help you narrow down your options. If you're not sure which features are essential, the feature definitions included should help you understand the more advanced functionalities typically available. As with most software purchases, it's critical to have a clear optimization strategy in place before selecting a tool.

We've also included the average 'Likelihood to Recommend' rating of each product, per the ratings and reviews on TrustRadius, as well as whether the vendor's customer base is mostly enterprises, mid-size companies, or small businesses. However, while user ratings are a good indication of sentiment, they shouldn't be the only factor in your decision. It's more important to understand which product best fits your needs. We hope this feature comparison table is one step toward making that determination.

Other important factors to consider include ease of use, time to implement, and pricing structure. The in-depth reviews of each product on TrustRadius.com are a good starting point to narrow your search.

We'd love to know what you think. Is this chart helpful to prospective buyers of A/B testing software? Are there missing features? What other type of information would be useful?

You can download the A/B Testing Software Feature Comparison Chart here.

Salesforce Wave Makes a Splash in the $14B Business Intelligence Space

Perspective from Alan Cooke, Research Director, TrustRadius

Salesforce announced its entry into Business Intelligence (BI) software market at Dreamforce in October with the launch of Salesforce Analytics Cloud, also known as Salesforce Wave. At TrustRadius, we pride ourselves on sharing the end-user perspective. In the case of Wave, it’s been impossible to track down any beta users, so we’re offering our own perspectives and those of market participants we interviewed.

What is Wave?

Wave is a completely new cloud platform for Salesforce—joining the Sales, Community, Marketing, and Service Clouds.  It is a “full-stack” cloud BI solution with strong discovery/visualization capabilities aimed at business users, and designed so that operational staff can visualize complex information with minimal assistance from IT staff.

It is based on Edgespring, which Salesforce acquired in June 2013. Per Edgespring’s own description, it “accelerates the building of analytics applications that parse business intelligence data like sales, financials and more”; and “allows users to derive insights from data of any size or structure and answer first and second order questions across structured and semi-structured data.”

It is very much optimized for Salesforce data including data created by the various Salesforce cloud platforms along with data from apps built on Salesforce will flow directly into the Wave data store. It is targeted at large enterprises with large data sets.

Wave Has Strong Potential

While Salesforce is a late entrant in a crowded, highly contested marketplace, the market is in the throes of tectonic change and Salesforce has the opportunity to leverage new disruptive technology and its huge installed base of CRM customers. The strong integration with Salesforce will be hugely appealing for their customers that don’t already have external BI products integrated with the platform.

Furthermore, Salesforce has learned from the charge of complexity that is frequently leveled at legacy BI tools and has chosen usability the defining feature of the product. The interface appears highly-intuitive and incorporates compelling visualization capabilities. The visualization front end wowed people watching the, admittedly, highly scripted demos at Dreamforce.

Wave has been designed with the mobile user in mind. Most of the use cases presented at Dreamforce were very mobile-centric. Many of the intended users are functional employees who need to be able to see critical operational data while away from their desks.

It is based on a next-generation “big data” code base and features the EdgeSpring noSQL database that allows the product to ingest vast quantities of both structured data of the kind stored in rows and columns, and unstructured data like social media data and video content. Data is highly compressed and stored in the very efficient Wave columnar database resulting in extremely fast processing.

Wave also inherits some very innovative features like a search based approach allowing users to search for data in a Google-like fashion, rather than having to write structured queries in a specialized query language like SQL.

Lastly, Wave inherits a schema-free approach that leaves the world of ETL and data warehousing completely behind.

Wave Will Face Stiff Competition from Cheaper Alternatives

Wave is a very expensive platform clearly aimed at larger enterprises. Users are required to buy a Wave Platform License, including the computing, data management, API, and security infrastructure. The price of the platform license depends on the number of individual user licenses which are split between Explorer licenses, giving the ability to view, discover and share data insights and dashboards, and Builder licenses, which provide the ability to create and deploy data sets. Explorer licenses start at $125 per user, per month, and Builder licenses start at $250, per user, per month. Salesforce suggests one builder license to nine or ten Explorer licenses which gives a monthly fee for a 10-person team of $1,375, not including the platform license.  Many feel that this price means that the product is not competitive with pure-play analytics offerings like Tableau.

The BI market is not just crowded but also evolving very quickly. The major enterprise vendors including SAP, IBM, and Oracle all have powerful enterprise-level “full stack” platforms that have traditionally dominated this category. In recent years though, these products have been under attack by the newer, agile data discovery and visualization tools like Tableau. QlikView, and Tibco Spotfire. The incumbents have responded with their own visualization tools. The huge success of the visualization vendors is in part a reaction against the complexity, and cost of the legacy products. These newer tools are significantly easier to use and have really been designed with ease-of-use as a major design principle.

Additionally, pure cloud BI vendors like Birst and GoodData have emerged as strong contenders offering full-stack BI capabilities without the typical IT requirements of on-premise full-stack solutions. They have however faced resistance in overcoming customer’s fears about putting their precious data in the cloud. The presence of Wave could work in their favor, as more companies get comfortable moving data to the cloud, but Wave will likely meet some of the same philosophical resistance.

Unlike other full-stack BI solutions, Wave does not have an ETL layer for external data. Salesforce has taken a partnering approach, enlisting Informatica, Jitterbit and Dell Boomi to solve the problem of getting that external data into the platform.

Another issue is that lack of any kind of predictive capability. Salesforce, at least for now, has decided to rely on partners for this functionality. Specifically, they have enlisted Infer, Predixion and some others to build out this functionality on behalf of clients.

Reactions from Other Vendors

Reactions from other vendors have been muted to indifferent. We talked to four vendors to get their reactions.

  • InsightSquared offers several analytics product lines, the best known of which is their Salesforce analytics platform. However, according to Brian Whalley, InsightSquared’s Marketing Director, their product is aimed directly at SMB customers who typically do not have any analytics product beyond Excel. Since Wave is designed for large enterprises, it does not affect them in any obvious way.
  • C9 offers an analytics tool  for pipeline analysis and sales forecasting on the Salesforce platform. C9’s CEO, Michael Howard told TrustRadius that his view of Wave is that it is essentially a visualization tool, while C9 product is a forecasting application that really has little to do with the Wave product. According to Michael, C9 has built a data object allowing people use the Wave platform to slice and dice C9 data beyond what the platform offers. Some customers already do this today using Tableau. While Wave is a great front-end visualization tool, it does not have the capability to manage data across a temporal dimension, which is essential to pipeline planning and forecasting.
  • GoodData is one of the leading cloud BI platforms. GoodData’s CEO, Roman Stanek, told TrustRadius that this announcement is likely to affect the market by preventing cloud analytics startups from getting funded as investors worry about the affect of Wave on the overall market. GoodData is well beyond that point, as it’s an established brand handling very large volumes of data, very little of which is Salesforce data. Beyond that though, Stanek points out that CRM and BI are fundamentally different markets in that BI requires high levels of service either from the vendor or though consulting partners not just to bring data into the platform, but also to build models and customized solutions.
  • Birst is another major cloud BI vendor and Southard Jones, VP of Product Strategy, points out that the Wave announcement validates the market demand for cloud BI and Analytics, where Birst has been delivering successful enterprise deployments for years.  The challenge that Wave will face is that with Cloud BI, its important to solve both the data problem and the end-user visualization problem.  Traditional on-premise solutions solved the end-user visualization problem, and left the data problem to 3rd parties like integration providers and database vendors.  The initial launch of Wave indicates that they are talking a similar approach of solving mostly the front-end problem. According to Southard, eventually Salesforce will find they need to solve the data integration problem too, and that will be very hard or impossible given the current product architecture. 

What's your take on Wave? Leave a comment or tweet @trustradius your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Top 10 Fastest Growing A/B Testing Software Products - Q3 2014

A/B Testing is an emerging but rapidly growing software category. Our August 2014 Conversion Rate Optimization Survey, indicated that 48 percent of companies plan to spend more on A/B testing tools this coming year. It has also attracted a fair amount of investment capital. Optimizely has raised $88 million including a $57 million round this May. Monetate has raised $46 million, and Maxymiser has raised $15m.

A/B Testing software is also a rapidly growing category on TrustRadius. Page views for A/B Testing software products – a measure for how many people are running evaluations – grew 30 percent from Q2 to Q3. While page views are not an absolute representation of category growth for a variety of reasons (including our own improvement in search rankings), they are a good proxy.

The most evaluated AB Testing software product on TrustRadius in Q3 by a fair margin was Optimizely, followed by Adobe Target, Monetate, and Maxymiser. The next most evaluated products were Qubit, Visual Website Optimizer (VWO), and SiteSpect.

These products sell to different market segments, which can account for differences in evaluation frequency. Using reviewer mix on TrustRadius as proxy for customer mix, and assuming prospective customers follow a similar distribution to existing customers, it is possible to make an educated guess as to evaluation frequency by segment. For example, in the enterprise segment, based upon review mix on TrustRadius, 21 percent of Optimizely’s customers are enterprises with more than 500 employees; for Adobe Target, the corresponding figure is 75 percent; Monetate, 60 percent; Maxymiser, 83 percent; Qubit, 50 percent; Visual Website Optimizer (VWO), 17 percent; Sitespect 57 percent; Unbounce 0 percent; HP Optimost 100 percent; and Webtrends Optimize, 75 percent. Multiplying these percentages by the total evaluation frequency allows us to estimate an “enterprise evaluation rate” for A/B testing software products.

Using this estimation methodology, the A/B Testing product most evaluated by enterprises is Adobe Target, followed by Maxymiser and Monetate. Optimizely occupies the 4th position. While this imperfect methodology does not account for rapidly shifting customer mixes, it does give a directional indication for today’s picture.

Need Help Selecting the Right A/B Testing Software?
Compare pros and cons of different products, access a distillation of more than 200 in-depth user reviews, and see which products rate best by market segment (small businesses, mid-size companies, large enterprises), check out our Buyer’s Guide to A/B Testing Software.

Want to compare features across leading products, check out our feature comparison chart for A/B Testing Software.

How we saved $30,000 a year using TrustRadius

This story is based on an interview with TrustRadius member, Bjorn Billhardt. Bjorn is CEO of Enspire. He joined TrustRadius 2 years ago. 

Bjorn Billhardt is the founder and CEO of Enspire, an Austin-based company that creates learning experiences for Fortune 500 companies.

Bjorn's small marketing team was really satisfied with the marketing automation software it was using. Bjorn heard about TrustRadius through a friend and encouraged one of his marketers to get on the site and contribute a review.

After looking at TrustRadius, Bjorn decided Enspire should do an internal analysis of the marketing automation platform they were using. Upon closely reading what others were saying on TrustRadius, he realized Enspire wasn't really using it in a way that justified its expense.

"It's a fine piece of software," he said. "But the people on TrustRadius who were giving it all the thumbs up were mostly from larger companies with big marketing departments, which is not our case."

Bjorn also realized the platform's workflow and customer-segmenting functions would better serve a company with thousands of prospects and customers, but Enspire's client base is highly specific: the HR departments of Fortune 500 companies. Last spring, Bjorn discontinued his marketing automation software license for an annual saving of $30,000.

"I don't think we would've had the confidence to pull the plug if we hadn't read the reviews," he said.

So far, the drawbacks to discontinuing have been negligible, and now Bjorn is using TrustRadius to research more affordable alternatives that might meet Enspire's needs. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Top 10 Fastest Growing Business Intelligence Software Products in Q3

An estimated $14 billion is spent on business intelligence (BI) software each year. Last year, the market grew more than 8 percent, with certain segments like Cloud BI growing much faster. ­It is also attracting a lot of investment capital. BI software companies Domo, Thoughtspot, Birst, GoodData, Looker and Tidemark raised over $200 million in investment capital in 2014 alone.

Business Intelligence software is also an extremely popular category on TrustRadius. Unique page views for BI software products – a measure for how many people are running evaluations – grew 16 percent from Q2 to Q3. While page views are not an absolute representation of category growth for a variety of reasons - including our own improvement in search rankings - they are a good proxy.

The most evaluated BI product on TrustRadius in Q3 by a fair margin was Tableau, followed by Qlikview. The next most evaluated products were IBM Cognos, Tibco Spotfire, and SAP Business Objects. While evaluation frequency is typically a good thing, it can also signal that you are being frequently considered for replacement.

Three of the top four most evaluated products - Tableau, Qlikview and Tibco Spotfire - are discovery/ visualization tools. Two of the top ten most evaluated solutions – Birst and Domo are cloud BI solutions. One open source based solution, Jaspersoft – recently acquired by Tibco - also made the Top 10.

When looking at evaluation frequency growth rates among the Top 10 most evaluated products, the rankings are quite different. The fastest ascending products - in percentage growth terms - were Domo and Jaspersoft, followed by Microstrategy and Microsoft BI. When you look beyond the Top 10, there are products like Alteryx that are growing even faster.

For simplicity, we grouped all BI products together for this analysis. There are material differences between types of BI solution, however, that factor into any evaluation. In broad terms, we segment the BI product category into:
  • Discovery/ Visualization
  • Full Stack
  • Cloud Full Stack
  • Open Source Based

We consider predictive analytics and functional-specific BI as distinct categories which we did not include here.

When evaluating your options, first determine which class of product is most appropriate for your use case, then compare products within that class. We will be making this selection process easier when we publish our inaugural Buyers’ Guide to BI Software later this quarter. In the interim, visit the BI Category on TrustRadius to begin your research.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Using TrustRadius to Create a Vendor Short List

This story is based on an interview with TrustRadius member, Chris Ortega
. Chris is Manager of Finance and Planning at WebLink International. He joined TrustRadius in March.

Chris Ortega is Manager of Finance and Planning at WebLink, an Indianapolis-based company that provides software solutions to member-based organizations, like business associations and chambers of commerce.

Chris started his job about a year ago.

"When I came onboard there was a big need for a tool to help us with financial planning and resource allocation," he said.

Chris started doing online research and sought advice from his LinkedIn network. He happened on TrustRadius when Googling reviews of Host Analytics.

"I found the reviews on TrustRadius to be very comprehensive with in-depth analysis, and it was very interactive – you could reach out to these people who'd written them," he said.

Chris looked at other reviews through Google searches and also through sources like Proformative and Gartner's Magic Quadrant, but found them to be less thorough or impossible to authenticate:

"Was this a real problem this person had using this tool? Or was it just somebody who had a beef with the software company?" he said.

Chris used TrustRadius to narrow his list down to three options: Host Analytics, Maestro and Adaptive Insights.

After meeting with sales representatives, Chris picked Adaptive Insights for its long-term potential. WebLink is now looking to expand and believes that Adaptive Insights will meet its business-planning needs well into the future.