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KHMechelen and element61 examine the potential of Business Intelligence ‘in the cloud’ for SME

SaaS (Software as a Service) and BI (Business Intelligence) are both rapidly growing ICT applications

For quite a while, large enterprises now make use of Business Intelligence, solutions which enable them to get a better view on the management information and performance of the company. According to Gartner research, investment in BI technology is the number one priority for CIO’s and CFO’s for the fourth consecutive year. Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) also try to make use of Business Intelligence solutions. Besides purchasing the BI solution, SMEs additionally have to select, purchase and install the necessary hardware, choose and maintain the operating system, and continuously administer the BI configuration.

This proves to be a huge burden for the adoption and use of Business Intelligence in many SMEs. Nevertheless, the recent SME-IT-day proved that successful examples exist of SMEs undertaking this journey. After all, insufficient use of management information in decision support can slow down the growth and competitive position of many of the Flemish SME.

A Software as a Service (SaaS – hosted – "in the cloud”) – on its own a completely new and innovative delivery model - for Business Intelligence, aimed specifically at SMEs could form a solution to this challenge, given the fact that all investments in hardware, software, maintenance, training and support are replaced by an integrated "pay as you go” formula. The focus then can go to acquiring and analyzing the company information. Moreover, a shared platform possibly leads to a reduced ecological footprint.

A common project for KHMechelen and element61

KHMechelen and element61 join their expertise and forces on this topic. The aim of the project is to promote efficient and strategic performance management of SME-companies, and to leverage the use of existing SME resources by implementing a SaaS-Business Intelligence-platform.

Promoter KHM is responsible for the preliminary analysis, knowledge development and disseminationof the possibilities of offering BI as a service for SME. On the basis of a comparative study and thorough assessment of the key SaaS-BI players in the market, KHM aims to offer SMEs the most appropriate Saas-BI application. The choice of the solution will result from the needs and functionalities expressed by the SME and an online consultation will give a clear overview of the current blocking factors in implementing BI for SME.

Co-promoter element61 accompanies the set-up of the strategic and technological environment with the participating SMEs, and will use its network with software- and hardware vendors and professional organizations to create a bigger platform for the project.

SMEs sought for pilot and roll-out

In total 7 SME will be accompanied when rolling out this SaaS-BI platform in their company over the next two years. The project starts in January 2010 and will be presented on April 1st 2010 at the KHMechelen BICC Congres in Mechelen, Belgium.

Two selected SMEs will act as a pilot project. This will give answers to the following questions: what are the steps to undergo when implementing the solution, what is the typical duration time, what are the difficulties to cope with within the enterprise ? Furthermore, after having determined feasibility, the roll-out for all SMEs that are willing to take part in the implementation of a Saas-BI platform follows. Finally, at the end of the project, the results and findings are published and presented.

With support and thanks to

The total project cost of 539.055 euro is partially financed by a 40 % subsidy by ERDF, the European Regional Development Fund, 45 % by the Flemish minister of Economy & Entrepreneurship, and the rest is financed by the promoter KHM and co-promoter element61.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) subsidies projects that diminish inequalities between regions, increase competition, create employment and reinforce cohesion between regions. The approved project situates itself in the operational program ‘knowledge-based economy and innovation’. Due to globalization, Flanders will have to appeal for its knowledge in order to survive in an international context. It’s therefore vital to invest in knowledge and innovation in order to develop the Flemish knowledge-based economy and to insure durable growth and employment.

An update on the Business Intelligence in the Cloud research-project can be found here.


Ilse Bracke
KHMechelen, Zandpoortvest 13, 2800 Mechelen

Stijn Vermeulen
element61, Patijntjestraat 135, 9000 Gent

Additional information:

KHMechelen - BICC

Since September 2007, KHMechelen has founded the BICC (Business Intelligence Competence Center). The mission of this knowledge center is to act as an independent platform for the development within the professional domains of Management Information Systems and Business Intelligence in particular. Together with its partners, BICC organizes among others an annual BI-congress, evening sessions and online research in the field of ICT.


element61 is a thought-leading Performance Management & Business Intelligence consultancy company. element61 currently employs about 20 consultants with an average experience of 8 years in BI, CPM and data warehousing and more then 200 manyears of experience as a team. The company actively invests in research & development in BI & PM through an internal education program, collaboration and support of academic research, and activities and sponsorship in Business Intelligence communities and networks. The company also pioneers in Business Intelligence in a Software-as-a-Service model.
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