Ex-Business Objects CEO's startup focuses on workforce analytics

Visier's approach to BI starts from 'a clean sheet of paper,' says CEO John Schwarz

After leaving his post as CEO of SAP's Business Objects division about three years ago, John Schwarz had a revelation.

Before him, Schwarz said in a recent interview, was an opportunity to "redo BI from a clean sheet of paper." That thought led to the formation of Visier, an analytics software provider where Schwarz serves as CEO.

While Schwarz was at Business Objects, customer satisfaction surveys found that the vendor's BI software was well-liked among IT users, "but you talk to the actual business users and the results were far less satisfactory," he said. "IT could get the tools up and running, but then they flipped it over to the end user and they said, 'it's too difficult.'"

Visier's approach from the beginning was to "throw the whole BI technology idea out and start at the other end of the spectrum," Schwarz said. "Start with the user and go back to the data. As long as you can start up a browser, you can use our application."

Beyond creating an attractive user interface for Visier's cloud-based software, Schwarz and his team sought to boost user productivity by initially focusing on a single domain: workforce analytics.

With the launch this month of version 10 of Visier's software, the platform will contain some 300 prebuilt visualizations and analysis tools that cover "the top metrics and questions people have in the [human resources] world," he said.

For example, the Visier system can help human resources staffers analyze which current employees may be at most risk of leaving the company, based on historical data regarding the attributes of workers who previously left.

It's also possible to share the results of analyses with others by exporting information to slideshows.

Visier also promises customers a much speedier and happier experience on the implementation side. New customers can be up and running within four weeks, compared to more than a year for traditional on-premises BI projects, according to Schwarz.

The cost of Visier's software is also "an order of magnitude" lower than a traditional BI project, he said.

Later this year, Visier will release a new application for workforce planning, which will allow users to model, predict and assess future staffing scenarios. The company is also planning to create analytic applications for additional domains, such as sales, marketing and finance, Schwarz said.

In addition, Visier will seek out third parties to build on top of its platform, which uses MapReduce along with a range of homegrown technologies under the hood, along with HTML5 and Flash on the front end, according to Schwarz.

Visier has about two dozen customers, most of them larger companies such as ConAgra. While Visier is capable of running globally, the company won't have data center operations outside of North America until later this year, Schwarz said.

It competes with fellow workforce analytics specialist OrcaEyes, as well as products from BI platform providers such as SAP, Oracle and IBM.

While "it would be a bit of a stretch" to say customers can't get capabilities like Visier's anywhere else, the company has a "very strong product," said analyst Stephan Millard, vice president and research director at Ventana Research. "What they've done is prepackaged everything people want in human capital analytics."

One potential risk to customers is the possibility Visier will be acquired at some point by a larger vendor.

In general, the HCM (human capital management) software market "has been consolidating for a while," and it stands to reason Visier will get looked at by SAP, Oracle, Workday, he said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesapplicationsSAPsoftwareVisiercloud computinginternetbusiness objectsbusiness intelligenceanalytics

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?