Corda Technologies Sticks with Dashboards

Corda Technologies likes to position itself first, foremost, and entirely as a "dashboards" vendor

Corda Technologies likes to position itself first, foremost, and entirely as a "dashboards" vendor. It's braver positioning given an ever-changing business intelligence (BI) market, where yesterday's niche-vendor can quickly become today's all-in-one suite player. It's a pitch that isn't likely to change, according to company officials.

Corda isn't interested in back-end data warehousing, connectivity plumbing, or other (non-dashboard) presentation products, they claim. "We are dashboards. That's who we are. That's really how we distinguish ourselves," says Mark Tyler, director of marketing with Corda. "We're not the full business intelligence solution. We don't want to be! We're the presenter. We like to position that as our strength: because that's all we do, because that's our core competency, we can have your dashboards up and running in a matter of days instead of months."

Corda's marketing has also evolved. Although its products are still aimed primarily at developers (or, at the very least, at savvy power users), Corda is increasingly willing to pitch its products to business users, Tyler says.

To a degree, he points out, this is common sense. If seeing is believing, that's doubly the case when it comes to visualization -- even for "lite" visualization of the kind typified by dashboards -- where seeing is, in effect, the raison d'etre.

"We used to be just a tools company, where we had PopChart, OptiMap, [and] HighWire, these sorts of data-visualization graphics-type tools," Tyler says. "We now roll all of these [offerings] up into our flagship product [i.e., CenterView]. We still have that [developer] focus, but now a customer can purchase all of the tools [in CenterView] or get them separately, if needed."

Corda shipped CenterView 4.0 in May. It emphasizes that product's all-in-one convenience -- which Tyler says appeals to developers -- as well as Corda's own rapid-time-to-deployment track record, which appeals to business users. Corda also touts several CenterView 4.0-specific enhancements, such as iPhone and iPod Touch support in Corda Mobile Server (via the Corda Mobile iPhone app), which Tyler says should also appeal to business users.

The upshot, he indicates, is that in many if not most cases, both IT and business representatives could or should be involved in the sales process. That's a relatively new, CenterView-specific wrinkle. "That's sort of consistent with how we're selling CenterView," Tyler says.

"I think it's still primarily [an option for] IT developers. Our past was [as] a technical company. Our CTO is a technical person. We are becoming more of a marketing-led organization, which I think is timely. We have these great tools, this great product, and we haven't marketed it. We aren't out there making a splash with it the way we could be because we've sort of been content to market it just to technical people."

Tyler stops short of endorsing CenterView as a self-service tool, at least for typical business end users. "The way [CenterView] is right now, a developer, an engineer on the company side can use it to quickly build dashboard interfaces. It still isn't ideal for the business user [to deploy or build dashboards] by themselves," he indicates, "but [business users] like our quick time to value. Our customers say consistently that we are very easy to use and deploy."

Even with its new, post-CenterView bifurcated push, quick-time-to-value remains Corda's most salient value proposition, Tyler contends.

One textbook Corda use-case involves Arizona State University (ASU), which used Corda's pre-CenterView components to quickly cobble together a customer-facing ("customers" being students) dashboard portal site. Not surprisingly, Corda lists a dozen colleges or universities among its customer references; it's been very successful in other verticals -- including health care, energy, insurance, and government -- in customer-facing applications that require portal-centric dashboarding capabilities.

"It's an application development environment, so of course it's not going to be as easy as a Business Objects or a Cognos, … but the learning curve was easy," said John Rome, then director of business intelligence for ASU, in a Corda-specific interview last year. Rome says that ASU's development team -- in this case, students -- "were able to figure out the tool relatively quickly."

Tyler, for his part, is particularly excited about CenterView's new mobile component. iPhone-based dashboards or scorecards, he claims, are potential killer apps. "It's visual. It's something that a business user can see and they get it -- instantly. They can see the value in it. The same is true, of course, for our regular dashboards, but when you can actually show them the [iPhone] demo, you can see the [proverbial] light bulb going off [over their heads]," he comments.

CenterView's Mobile Server isn't a standard option, however: customers must pay extra for it, as well as purchase per-user mobile licenses, Tyler confirms.

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