SaaS BI vendor Oco aims to help enterprise IT be tactical

Business intelligence and data analytics deployments remain hard and time-consuming, according to recent CIO surveys .

Oco Inc., a maker of pre-packaged hosted analytics and reporting tools, claims its Analytics-as-a-Service offering can solve both problems. The Waltham, Mass.-based firm's hosted product bundles data integration and complementary apps that it says can start delivering results to customer firms within six to10 weeks.

This is a "tool that you can go and use right away," said Bill Copacino, CEO of Oco. Speedy deployment can cut the risk of failure and lead to a quicker ROI -- tactical benefits that even the most plodding, strategy-bound enterprises love.

Copacino's background as the former chief executive of the technology consulting division of Accenture Corp. is evident in the company's business approach.

Rather than obsessing over comparing its speeds and feeds with those of competitors, Oco delivers a "focused, complete business solution" that creates "dramatically less pain for IT," Copacino said.

The Oco strategy emphasizes the importance of data integration done in a smart, economical way. Besides checking all data as it is imported, Oco boasts proprietary patented technology for discovering and mapping data, according to Mike Beckerley, Oco's CTO. Beckerley was previously CTO of the Ascential data integration division at IBM.

Combine that with industry best practices used by Oco, the firm's technology can narrow down exactly what data needs to be imported.

"We're not pulling broad and inaccurate swaths of data. We know just what tables to go after," Beckerley said. Thus the offering can reduce the network load, especially for companies feeding data to Oco for use in daily or real-time reporting, as well as deployment time.

Beckerley cites one customer that had, through acquisitions, 13 different ERP systems worldwide. Oco was able to help them integrate the data and deploy the hosted BI app within 20 weeks, he added.

Vendors of BI appliances and other on-premises products, by contrast, aren't incentivized to be fast and thrifty because they typically get paid more money as a client's data mart or warehouse grows, Copacino said.

"It's always 'Let's build this giant data warehouse, and do this, and do that,' without specifying a business model," Copacino said. "When that happens, the projects suffer and you never know when the data part is done."

On the analytics side, Oco has developed a menu of 75 different reports, allowing clients to tailor them for based on the industry or interest of corporate end users.

More than 40 companies have opted for Oco's turnkey service, including retailers such as Casual Male, Dunkin' Donuts and Office Depot, manufacturers like fruit juice maker Welch's, and financial services firms like Fidelity Investments.

In a research report, Kevin O'Marah, chief strategy officer at AMR Research praised Oco 's hosted toolset for its simplicity and ease of deployment.

Oco competes with other cloud analytics services such as Birst, PivotLink, Qliktech, Good Data and others.

Pricing, which is based on the number of users and source systems as well as the volume of data, ranges from $100,000 to "well over a million dollars," Copacino said.

Eric Lai covers Windows and Linux, desktop applications, databases and business intelligence for Computerworld . Follow Eric on Twitter @ericylai , send e-mail at or subscribe to Eric's RSS feed .

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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