Here's a change of pace for the managed services crowd: Panorama Software, which works closely with Microsoft in the business intelligence market, is connecting the dots between social media and BI. The effort involves Panorama Necto, which tracks a user's interests and then suggests they talk with other Necto users who have similar interests. Here are the potential implications for MSPs.

Panorama works with a range of resellers and hosting providers. Necto is built on three key pillars: Social Intelligence, Automated Relevant Insights & Contextual Discovery and Self Service:
  • Social Intelligence: The goal here is to connect data and people with common interests. Users can "subscribe" to colleagues and track their views, monitor discussions, and learn how other people are using Panorama Necto.
  • Automated Relevant Insights & Contextual Discovery: Panorama Necto has a built-in automated system that suggests relevant information to people based on their previous searches. It's called the Automated Intelligence Driving Engine (AIDEN). AIDEN can understand online behavioral patterns and suggests information based on these patterns.
  • Self-Service: This eliminates day-to-day involvement of IT departments and lets business users focus on deployment instead of generating reports.
Demand for Panorama's software sounds strong. For 2010, the company recorded an 80 percent year-over-year growth in software sales, attributable in part to its tightened strategic partnership with Microsoft, Panorama said. The company also established 40 new strategic partnerships.

Customer Uses, MSP Opportunities

So who actually runs Panorama Software? One example involves APS Bank, a community bank that uses Panorama to track key performance indicators (KPIs) across its business. Users at the community bank include everyone from the CXO team to branch office managers. The solution is integrated with Microsoft Office and SharePoint.

So where do MSPs fit in? On the one hand, most MSPs have overlooked the BI opportunity because it often requires specific application-level expertise tied to vertical market expertise (example: BI in banking). Still, there are signs that it's getting easier for MSPs to step into the BI market. For instance, the hosted BI industry will grow to about $500 million in 2015 -- suggesting that it may get easier and easier for MSPs to set up standardized BI applications for a range of customers.

We'll be watching to see if MSPs embrace BI opportunities.

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