TIBCO, a big software company, considered selecting a big e-commerce solution provider, Digital River, for their webstore integration project, but they found better solutions with the big minds at Concept Software. Here's the story...
Publicly traded TIBCO Software Inc. headquartered in California provides enterprise software to over 4,000 customers around the world. TIBCO Spotfire software is an analytics solution helping a host of industries gain key insights from company data.
Gil Allouche is Product Marketing Manager for TIBCO Spotfire adding, "Some people describe it as Excel on steroids, but today it's much more evolved than that - it's a full-fledged analytical platform that allows its users to interact and explore their data, revealing patterns and insights they wouldn't be able to find otherwise by creating sophisticated visualizations" Gil explains that their users do not have to be statisticians to be able to "predict future sales and profit, identify correlations in large data sets, and apply sophisticated statistical modeling in drug research, financial analysts, oil drilling scenarios or any other domains."
Spotfire customers are a group of robust and satisfied users, however, TIBCO recognized that there are far too many interested, potential users who feel Spotfire is beyond their reach. They lack the political authority within their organization to commit to the purchase and/or they lack the budget.
Gil Allouche spends a majority of his time on sales enablement for Spotfire sales personnel. He knows that once the benefits of Spotfire are experienced it is natural for interest to spread virally within a company. A plan was set to offer a variety of limited feature, hosted versions of Spotfire at accessible price points. Designing the product with this approach is aiming at garnering a whole new field of users in addition to creating a point of entry for full deployment at a later date.
Fast forward two years later and that's exactly what the TIBCO Spotfire Webstore has accomplished. Through the webstore, a customer can buy a license and subscribe month by month without any of the hosting responsibility. The pricing models insure there is no cannibalization of the full deployment version of Spotfire. If a user buys more than a certain amount of licenses through the webstore, they'll lose value by foregoing functionality for the price and be paying more per license.
Buyers are quickly receptive to the new webstore offerings and after just a couple of months using a hosted version of Spotfire, a portion of users are eager to move onward and upward to full deployment. Gil comments from a Product Manager's point of view, "In these cases, it ends up being like a paid trial, there are very hot leads that come from the webstore. Someone who is going to pay a couple of hundred dollars per month (one price point example) is serious about the product thus creating an opportunity for a Spotfire salesperson to more easily reach out to them. Results are tremendously better than the year before the webstore as we have quadrupled our online revenues and significantly spread the Spotfire word ." TIBCO is a traditional sales oriented organization and they do not see that changing, but they will continue to investigate how they can expand the footprint of a hosted solution as a part of their product portfolio. Furthermore, they will continue to enhance the Webstore with more tutorial videos, comparison charts and other pre-sales tools including offering promotional incentives.
Now how did this little webstore miracle happen? A team at TIBCO compared the Concept Software SoftwareKey licensing and e-commerce solutions to that of Digital River, a very large company. The Concept Software team is intimately acquainted with the expertise required for an integration like TIBCO was wanting but large competitors can still be intimidating from time to time when you're not so sure the potential customer will see deep enough beyond the high priced marketing exterior.
TIBCO chose SoftwareKey Instant SOLO Server for the job because the big competitor was asking them to commit to a high annual revenue number which they were not prepared to do. This is an understandable choice since the folks at Concept Software find that most new initiatives are embarking into new territory where the unknown variables such as how many new customers are expected or how quickly they will come dictate a preference against premature outlays of cash. It's not a matter of whether the initiative has the resources or not, it's simply wiser to invest on enhancements down the line than on potentially unused licenses.
TIBCO found the Concept Software, SoftwareKey Instant SOLO Server solution priced much lower and overall a far better value, marked with exceedingly flexible, fast and substantial personal interaction. The icing on the cake for Gil was when he ascertained that Concept Software had the capabilities to enhance the platform in a way that would support future endeavors at TIBCO. To these points, Gil affirms, "It was an obvious choice." TIBCO is now happy to tell others that they experience nothing but outstanding customer service from the SoftwareKey team day in and day out.
Project Overview: TIBCO Spotfire has the functionality of a webstore, licensing, and ability to offer bundles. They have gained control and management ability for the whole life cycle of their customers as they arrive at the webstore, choose the product, buy the product, get the license, and while TIBCO troubleshoots any of their problems. Gil says, "Having the ability to handle all of this from SOLO... to me is extremely helpful."
Highlights of the project include:
- Concept Software designed a database pushing order data into an existing TIBCO system creating an account when a customer buys, and a custom script pushes order notifications to the TIBCO customer relationship management system.
- Beyond the licensing and billing integration, TIBCO gained abilities to manage customer issues by logging in and generating an instruction for the customer. States Gil, "Solving a customer's problem in five to ten minutes and having other people in the company know the SOLO system and solve it before it even arrives to my desk; to me this is priceless."
- The Instant SOLO Server recurring billing engine automates charges to customers for either a monthly or annual subscription.
- The webstore can offer multiple products together. When offering bundles, Gil says, "It's not a problem to charge for five or seven products, but to issue and manage licenses to all these different products is a challenge. Concept Software did a good job at not changing the interface, but maintaining functionality for our customers."
Gil has a programming background so he holds his own when talking development, but for this project he mostly wore the strategic business hat and left the development to the engineers at TIBCO and Concept Software. Gil explained that his confidence in the expertise and ability at Concept Software was high, and the more he handed the project over to them the easier it was for Gil to control the whole picture.
Gil recommends to others that they sit down with the Concept Software SoftwareKey Team and discuss ahead of time all the systems that need to be considered and integrated. "Talk about how for instance, a marketing/crm system, a website system, an internal licensing system are to connect, and what you are trying to get out of the e-commerce system, and what you want to give the customer. Do this ahead of time and then you'll be all set. It can seem like an entrepreneurial thing to do to build the webstore straight away, but considering the broader implications and opportunities of integrating to existing systems is really the way to go."