Q&A is a series on the Business Intelligence from the Swamp Blog that interviews key members of the Pentaho team to learn more about their focus at Pentaho and outlook on the Business Intelligence industry.
Our Q&A today is with Wayne Johnson, Senior Sales Engineer at Pentaho. When he’s not on webcast or in meetings with potential customers, Wayne is SuperDad to five kids, an adjunct college professor and competes in triathlons. To learn more about Wayne’s role at Pentaho and view on Business Intelligence we asked him four questions:
1. What brought you to Pentaho?
Back in 2009 I was made aware of Pentaho by competing against them in an opportunity where I represented a proprietary BI Vendor. When Pentaho approached me to discuss the possibility of joining their team, I was very apprehensive due to their business model. I just didn’t understand it. Instead of writing it off, I decided to do my research and started reading a book called Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams. This book not only changed my view on Pentaho but no pun intended, it opened my eyes to the benefits of Open Source (it was also a plus that Pentaho was mentioned in the book). So I decided to take a risk and jump on board.
2. What do you do for Pentaho?
Currently I am a Senior Sales Engineer who specializes in managing the Evaluation Experiences our evaluators have with our software. Opposed to proprietary BI Vendors, companies are encouraged to try our software out to see if it is a fit for their organization. Anyone with even a little experience in BI knows, however, that downloading, installing and building solutions with Enterprise Software would require some hand holding. That is where I come in. I make sure that those people that are evaluating our software have access to the resources and people they need to be able to accurately and efficiently evaluate Pentaho successfully.
3. How do you define a successful evaluation?
You would probably think my answer to this question is simply, one that ends in a subscription to Pentaho:-) A more accurate answer is: A successful evaluation is one that has provided the evaluator with enough information to make an informed decision on whether they can meet their business needs with the use of Pentaho. While the majority of our prospects come to the conclusions that Pentaho is the right solution to meet their business needs, some organizations do come to the conclusions that it is not. I view both evaluations as successful because we have kept the customer in mind and solving their business needs as a priority, not just trying to make a sale, that is something I take great pride in.
4. What characteristics do successful evaluations have in common?
There are definitely some common characteristics that I have seen in companies being able to successfully evaluate not just Pentaho, but any enterprise software package. These are:
- Clearly Identified Business Needs – As I stated earlier, that a successful evaluation determines the ability to solve a specific business need, knowing that need is vital to gauging whether or not the software package will meet that need.
- Having a Plan – If you were to take a trip driving from San Francisco to New York, you can either just get in your car, head east until you hit the coast then drive north along the coast until you hit New York. This method would prove to be very time consuming and costly, especially considering gas prices these days. Similarly, evaluating a software solution to meet your clearly identified business needs without a plan will be very time consuming and costly, especially with the limited amount of time and resources most companies are struggling with today. Additionally, you run the huge risk of making the “wrong turn” on your evaluation route. Having a plan ensures that you keep your eye on the objectives and have concrete milestones to check off during your evaluation. It will also help you make your decision once you have arrived at your destination.
- Executing the Plan – this may require a custom demonstration from the software provider, a test drive of the software using sample data, an evaluation of the software in your environment using your own data or engaging with Professional Services in order to prove out your plan. Each company’s needs are different and may require a different execution of their plan. The important part is to seek out is a software provider that provides ALL of those plan execution methods and does not limit you to their plan. The problem is that most don’t allow you to download, install and test the software yourself. For this reason I really enjoy working here at Pentaho, not only do we give you access to download and test the software for free for 30 days, but we also provide you with free evaluation support for those 30 days.
By following these three best practices around evaluating Pentaho or any other enterprise level software, you are guaranteeing that no matter what the decision is, you will have a successful evaluation.
Do you have additional questions for Wayne? Is there someone or a certain role at Pentaho you would like us to interview? Leave your questions in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.