In 2005, I was the CTO of a start-up – tasked with building an on-demand marketing analytics system to analyze both offline and online marketing data for our customers like Apple, 24 Hour Fitness and Los Angeles Times. I spent about a year researching various commercial BI tools, and was frustrated not only by their crazy price tags, but also by the insane complexity involved in customizing them (no BI platform will provide 100% of what you need out of the box – despite anything that you may have heard).
Why couldn’t implementing BI be like open source and/or standards-based software, which assumes there will always be tweaking, and as such, provides the hooks to tweak in a cleaner fashion?
In the end, I found a lot of open source tools that could do bits and pieces of what we needed – but no one single comprehensive platform existed that put it all together. So we started our own open source project – called it OpenI (pronunced “Open Eye”) – and consolidated all the bits and pieces to provide a simple yet powerful interface to work with our data, and OpenI became the foundation of the marketing analytics system we built.
A lot has happened since then. Thankfully, now there are other great open source business intelligence projects, so that we don’t have to maintain the entire BI platform ourselves anymore. Open source tools and technologies for all aspects of BI have improved tremendously – whether it is ETL, data visualization, OLAP databases, column-based databases, “big data” technology like Hadoop, predictive modeling, etc. etc. These are definitely much better times to build analytics and BI applications compared to 2005.
So that is exactly what we do at OpenI today:
Our own open source project has evolved from being a complete BI server, to providing more point solutions as plug-ins or complementary components to leading open source BI platforms (why reinvent the wheel?). We have a full team of smart BI software developers, including an offshore branch, and we build BI solutions for clients all around the world. Along the way, we have also built expertise in cloud-based deployments using Amazon Web Services (AWS) so we are able to provide much faser turnaround in launching new apps.
The end goal is still the same – our success comes from monetizing data. And doing so in a fast, iterative way that doesn’t cost a whole lot of money.
If that is something that could help your organization, please let us know. It will be fun.
Project Lead, OpenI.Org
Sandeep launches and grows software companies, mainly leading product development and engineering teams. Most recently, he co-founded Loyalty Matrix, a marketing analytics company which he grew as a CTO (later CEO) and managed its acquisition by Responsys, an enterprise email marketing company.
Sandeep also has unique clean tech experience — when his offshore software development team in Nepal got impacted by the country’s energy crisis, he helped launch a solar company called Gham Power to provide solar power backup solutions. It is currently the fastest growing solar company in Nepal.
Sandeep came back to OpenI in 2008 to grow it as a commercial organization. Today, he is working with many happy clients, picking the best open source BI tools to help them monetize their data assets via better data management, analytics, and visualization.