What Is Business Intelligence for IT Service Providers?
Let’s face it. Most IT service providers have yet to tackle the big data conversation. They haven’t done it externally — with customers. And they haven’t done it internally — for their own business management.
I’ve heard plenty of confusing conversations about big data. For VARs and MSPs, I like to boil it all down to three points:
1. The Big Data Big Picture: When it comes to big data, you’re really focused on gathering, managing, optimizing, securing, storing and monetizing data. Either for your own company. Or for your customers.
2. First Step to Big Data: Instead of getting overwhelmed by multiple data streams and the implications of each stream, IT service providers should start small. Most MSPs, for instance, already have data gathering and management systems like PSA (professional services automation) and RMM (remote monitoring and management).
3. The Missing Picture: To get a better handle on PSA and RMM data, MSPs can either…
- (A) adopt new types of dashboards built into their systems (for instance, the new ConnectWise 2016.1 release with a range of new dashboards).
- Or (B) seek out a third-party dashboard that potentially makes even more sense of the data you already have. Here, options like BrightGauge, ConnectSmart and MSPCFO, among others, come to mind. (Another emerging player worth watching: Clarity Intelligence Platform.)
I mention BrightGauge, ConnectSmart and MSPCFO because each of those companies checked in with me ahead of IT Nation, or we’ve had some back-and-forth with each other in recent weeks. On the one hand, I certainly wanted to mention each one of them in this article. But on the other, I didn’t want to “lump them all together” because each has a somewhat different data specialty for IT service providers.
For this article, ChannelE2E catches up with BrightGauge. But in the days and weeks ahead, we’ll also offer you some updates on ConnectSmart and MSPCFO, among others.
BrightGauge: Business Intelligence for IT Service Providers
Rewind to 2010 or so. At the time, a Miami-based MSP was essentially gearing up a SaaS-based reporting tool for peer MSPs. The reporting tool, the brainchild of brothers Eric and Brian Dosal, became known as BrightGauge.
By around 2012, BrightGauge had momentum as a tool that securely gathered data from PSA and RMM systems, and then sent key reports to specified MSP customers. Fast forward to the present day, and BrightGauge has evolved quite a bit. The current focus: “BrightGauge brings all of your data into one intuitive platform,” the company asserts.
The idea is to empower each of these potential users within an IT service provider business:
- Executives: They gain single source KPIs and a complete view of the company’s financial performance.
- Services professionals: An operations dashboard that measures engineer productivity and customer satisfaction.
- Sales professionals: They gain forecasting, pipeline and accountability information down to the individual sales rep.
- Finance professionals: Offering a financial snapshot that pinpoints client profitability and prepares a team for budget reviews.
Some pundits think evolving PSA dashboards could potentially compete with BrightGauge, but Eric Dosal has provided some timely context to partners and customers.
Over the past year or so, BrightGauge has debuted a complete rewrite that allows for platform extendibility, and the system now has more than 16,000 users either logging in or receiving reports. That figure is growing by rough 200 people per week, Dosal says.
BrightGauge: Expanding Integrations
BrightGauge’s platform rewrite has also opened the door to more an more data integrations. For instance, the system now integrates with any SQL, MySQL or PostgreSQL database, Dosal says.
And he points to these additional integrations:
- QuickBooks Desktop: Customers can now include financial metrics in their decision making.
- Tigerpaw Software: Pushing beyond the existing Autotask and ConnectWise integrations, this is BrightGauge’s first new PSA integration in 18 months.
- Nex.to: This is a new integration that surfaced this month. “Nex.to works exclusively with Connectwise but they bring Customer Satisfaction to a whole new level,” Dosal asserts. “And now with our dashboard integration you can share the data with the team easily as well as include the data in your Client Reports. We leverage our DropBox integration (another new one) to pull the data from Nex.to into BrightGauge.
In addition to the integrations, BrightGauge also continues to develop a range of new features. Among the top two that are front of mind for Dosal:
- Calculated Metrics: This features allows BrightGauge customers to leverage ratio gauges for a better understanding of how they are performing and/or comparing to historical performance. “As an example it’s great to know how many tickets were opened but how does that relate to the number of tickets closed, is it better or worse,” Dosal says. “This comes in handy with our QuickBooks customers that want ratio gauges like profit margin or service gross margin.”
- Deep Linking: “Our customers love that we ‘push their key data to them’ but sometimes they want to drill back into their data and see the details,” says Dosal. “So if they see a ticket took 90 minutes to respond to, they can click the ticket number and it will take them right back to their Connectwise for them to further research.”
Growing and Educating IT Service Providers
So what’s next for the platform and the company? Within the BrightGauge blog, keep a close eye on the product update tag for emerging clues each month. I’d also expect new innovations at a regular, predictable pace — thanks to BrightGauge’s commitment to agile software development.