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Self-service analytics spurs GoodData BI platform overhaul

GoodData is in the process of redesigning its entire business intelligence platform to make it more accessible to self-service and citizen data scientist users.

With self-service capabilities at the core, the GoodData BI platform is undergoing an overhaul.

Starting in summer 2019 and still ongoing, GoodData, a cloud-based vendor based in San Francisco and founded in 2007, began to redesign its business intelligence tools to make them more accessible to not only data professionals, but also citizen data scientists with no formal training in analytics.

It began with the launch of a self-service edition of the GoodData BI platform that users can begin using for free, and the vendor is proceeding with the redesign even amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The vendor is examining each tool in the GoodData BI platform. Some are being altered to fit with the vendor's heightened focus on self-service, some are being left alone, and still others are being removed from the suite entirely, according to Roman Stanek, founder and CEO of GoodData.

"We decided we wanted to be very aggressive about pricing and wide availability of GoodData," Stanek said. "We have this whole vision of what we call analytics everywhere. Analytics everywhere means that anyone and everyone has access to analytics, they can analyze data, and data is part of every decision.

"And then we realized that it's the availability of analytics that prevents people from doing it -- it's too expensive, it's too hard, and so on," he continued.

In response, GoodData developed the free self-service edition.

Airline travel data is displayed on a sample dashboard from GoodData.
A sample GoodData dashboard displays airline travel data.

"It sounds like it's not a product release and it's more pricing, but it is a product release because giving something to someone for free is completely useless if they don't know how to use it, if they don't know how to get the benefit of it," Stanek said. "So we are rebuilding the product feature by feature so that they can use it where they don't need us, they don't need our help, and the features are self-discoverable."

While overhauling the GoodData BI platform has the potential to make business intelligence available to a broad base of users with disparate analytical skills, analysts had a lukewarm reaction to the vendor's pivot.

We are rebuilding the product feature by feature so that they can use it where they don't need us, they don't need our help, and the features are self-discoverable.
Roman StanekFounder and CEO, GoodData

GoodData isn't the first BI vendor to embrace self-service analytics and make it a central tenet of its platform. Tableau, Qlik and Microsoft Power BI -- among others -- have long been providing self-service capabilities.

GoodData also isn't the first BI vendor to make its self-service tools available for free.

But whether at the forefront of the self-service analytics revolution or reacting to keep pace with innovators, adjusting to meet the needs of users who want to be liberated from their reliance on data scientists and do analytics on their own has met with success in the past when other vendors have made similar moves.

"GoodData is making changes to its product, pricing and packaging to respond to downward pricing pressure and market dynamics impacting all vendors, which have largely been introduced by Microsoft with Power BI," said Rita Sallam, an analyst at Gartner. "GoodData's new free self-service offering with a focus on making people self-sufficient and getting value from the product quickly is a marketing strategy used successfully by other players in the market."

Meanwhile, Wayne Eckerson, founder and president of Eckerson Group, pointed out that this isn't the first time GoodData has revamped its capabilities. When he last met with GoodData about two years ago, the vendor was focusing on embedding analytics into custom applications.

"It looked like they were on their way to becoming a services company that built custom applications that embedded analytics and machine learning to solve real business problems," he said.

And that, according to Eckerson, came after GoodData began as a cloud BI vendor. When it first emerged from stealth, it built a data infrastructure in the cloud, including data integration -- extract, transform and load -- and data warehousing capabilities in addition to analytics.

"I'd have to say they're a little late to the latest bandwagon," Eckerson said. "It seems like they are still trying to find themselves in a crowded market. I feel the [unified data and analytics] market is a good one for them, if they just focused on it."

While the analysts were measured in their response to the new-look GoodData BI platform, Stanek noted that the COVID-19 crisis is making self-service analytics more important than ever.

With stay-at-home orders in place for all but essential personnel in the U.K, France, Spain, Italy, Australia and most of the U.S. -- among other nations -- and businesses racing to find ways to survive the economic downturn caused by the shutdown of economies worldwide, BI is essential. And that means analytics in a non-traditional environment, away from an organization's headquarters.

"I would like to say we had this vision where this would be needed -- that's not correct," Stanek said. "But we have found ourselves in a very good place where we have exactly the product for these testing times, and we are helping everyone get access to analytics and cut their costs and have something they don't need to spend millions of dollars on in their budget."

He added that going forward, after bolstering its partnership with Amazon Web Services, restructuring the GoodData BI platform remains the vendor's primary developmental focus.

"We are slowly re-architecting and rebuilding GoodData so it's faster, better, more flexible, a better user experience and so on," Stanek said. "We definitely are doing less in terms of fundamental features and we are focused more on innovative and differentiated GoodData features because there is so much now in the cloud that people can go and leverage for themselves."

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