If you’ve shopped for business intelligence (BI) software at all, you’re probably familiar with Sisense. A company with some interesting history, Sisense was founded in 2004 but really burst onto the market in 2010 when it received an infusion of Series A financing – the first of six rounds of funding it’s received. Largely venture capital (VC) backed, Sisense has raised almost $275 million as of early 2020.
Its most recent investment of more than $100 million in January 2020, combined with its acquisition of Periscope, gave the startup unicorn status, meaning it has a valuation of more than $1 billion. Currently, rumors abound that the company is preparing for an IPO.
Sisense’s design allows non-technical users to work with it to analyze large data sets, and for this reason, it’s known as being a particularly user-friendly platform.
Unlike many other BI tools on the market, it is an all-in-one tool that doesn’t require additional purchases as users scale up. It offers a choice of on-premise or cloud-based options, and features drag-and-drop dashboards, and a seamless transfer from desktop to mobile platforms.
Sisense offers some great features and benefits for the right users, but as with most platforms, it’s not right for everyone.
Here are a few reasons that might be the case.
Sisense’s ElastiCube technology is a columnar database management system that stores data field-by-field rather than the more traditional row-by-row storage of relational databases like Oracle or Access.
This makes for a fast, high-performance database, which can be an advantage for users who need to work with large data sets but don’t want to spend the money on expensive hardware.
This type of technology is essential for many organizations, but the complex architecture requires a higher level of technical skill to set up the in-cache technology and to get it going. This can add significant amounts of money to the overall cost of operations to keep it going.
What does Sisense cost? Well, that’s the problem – Sisense is a private company and doesn’t release its pricing upfront, so it’s hard to know. However, we’ve come across Sisense in some competitive situations over the years and have gotten some insight into what they quote to prospects.
Those prices seem to run anywhere from $30,000 a year into the hundreds of thousands, depending on the number of users — the least expensive quote we’ve heard was $25,000 for five users.
While that type of pricing isn’t unheard of for BI software, many companies, particularly small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) don’t have the requirements for the super-fast processing that is Sisense’s primary selling point and can’t justify that type of investment.
As noted, Sisense has seen a major influx of venture capital funding recently, and with a potential pending IPO, there is likely a big push to grow. This can lead to aggressive, high-pressure sales tactics.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve spoken to several users who evaluated our sister product, Yurbi, against Sisense and ultimately decided on Sisense – but then came back after a few months or a year to reevaluate Yurbi. They mentioned that some features the Sisense sales team told them would be possible to implement turned out not to be – the solution to the implementation difficulties was to purchase additional professional services at additional cost. Some of these clients were locked into multiyear contracts they were trying to get out of, while others were up for renewal and seeking alternatives.
These, of course, are just a few stories and anecdotes and may not be representative of the company as a whole – all organizations have a few bad apples. But we would use this as a cautionary tale to prospects – always do your research before signing a contract.
This is true for any BI vendor; in particular, those with a lot of money to spend on sales and marketing have a sales process highly tuned for success. The case studies and advertisements that follow you all over the web once you’ve performed a search for BI software can lead to buying on hype rather than on what you need.
Sisense is a mature, robust BI platform, constantly ranked highly on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and other analyst reports. However, since BI platforms are not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, some just don’t adapt to it well. There’s nothing wrong with this and it doesn’t mean Sisense isn’t a good choice for some users. But what works well in some environments may not be a good fit in others.
Some users, for instance, have issues with the complexity of permissions, administering the dashboards, the way the maps work, the lack of ability to print, or quirks with the mobile support.
No one BI platform is universally loved and supported. This is complex software, and all users have unique and custom requirements, so it makes sense that Sisense isn’t a fit for everyone. For those users, we suggest including DashboardFox in their list of alternatives. It won’t be the right fit for all users either, but that’s OK.
What’s most important is that you have a clear understanding of the business requirements you’re trying to solve with the dashboards and reports generated by BI software, so you don’t pay more than you need for the problem you’re solving.
As mentioned previously, Sisense does have an on-premise deployment option, but (again, keeping in mind that Sisense doesn’t publish pricing), the number we’ve heard for that is around $300,000 a year to start.
For users seeking to embed Sisense and do a white label integration with their existing SaaS solution, we’ve heard $100,000 for as few as 30 named users. That pricing might be fine if the software’s capabilities are a perfect fit for your needs, but for many, the price maybe a little too high.
If you’re not sure you need all the options or super-fast processing Sisense offers, it may be worth it to shop around a little and price out alternative products.
If you are a $100 million business, with rapidly growing big data, DashboardFox is probably not going to help you. Sisense may be ideal for your use case.
However, if you are a small to medium-sized business, looking for a self-service BI tool for your team, there’s a good chance DashboardFox may be what you’re looking for. The reason, cost.
Our advice is to never spend more money on a BI tool than the value of the result it is bringing. At the end of the day, the goal is to empower your team with interactive dashboards, self-service access to data AND to do so without breaking the bank.
DashboardFox saves cost versus Sisense in a few ways. First, there is the upfront cost. DashboardFox is a one-time fee, no-subscription based pricing model. This one is a no-brainer, it is very easy to see the hard dollar cost savings between DashboardFox and Sisense. That money is better deployed to your core business use case than a BI tool.
But the second cost-saving reason is more important. The cost of deployment, operations, and maintenance. DashboardFox is easy. Easy to install, easy to deploy, easy to manage. It is designed to reduce the need for the IT department (but designed with the security to keep them happy). Sisense is a much bigger application that requires dedicated hardware, complex data model configuration, training, and more. All that adds to a lot of ongoing costs.
Next are features and functionality. Again, if you have huge amounts of data that need to be cached for analysis, the Sisense model may be best. DashboardFox is going to do real-time queries against your database, at database speed (which for 96% of environments is plenty – yes, we made up that stat, but let’s just say the overwhelming majority of businesses don’t need more than database speed). If in-memory caching is important, we don’t offer it in DashboardFox, but our other brand, Yurbi, could be exactly what you are looking for (and Yurbi’s a lot less cost than Sisense as well).
DashboardFox is not going to have all the bells and whistles as Sisense, but DashboardFox is going to meet the BI requirements of most small and medium-sized businesses.
We think bells and whistles hurt business user adoption. They impress the technical person buying the software, but business users just want to get their information and go back to doing their job. They are not captured by fancy BI software.
The best way to find out, talk to us. We’re harmless and we don’t spam. Schedule a live demo with a technical expert (not a sales call) and you will give us to chance to learn more about your needs and show you how DashboardFox is or is not the right fit.
Let’s get started on getting you the best BI tool (and saving you money)!