BIQ: Alive and Well in the Opera House! Part I

Fourteen years ago, in the sleepy little town of Southborough, Massachusetts, a tiny start up called BIQ was created. It’s mission was to give business analysts the powerful transactional data analysis tool that they needed to do their own analysis and get their own insight. Less than two years later, it released that tool, called BIQ, and it totally changed the spend analysis market. For the first time, power analysts could do everything themselves in a market where spend analysis was primarily offered as a service, and they could do it at a price point that was at least an order of magnitude less than what the big providers were charging them. With licenses starting at 36K a year, an analyst could do the same analysis that he was paying a suite provider 360K for and a best of breed provider 1M for. Now, it required a lot of knowledge, aesthetic blindness, elbow grease, and overtime, but it could be done.

And when we say everything, we mean everything. You could load any flat files you want in a standard format (such as csv) in the data loader. You could combine them into any cubes you wanted by defining the overlapping dimensions. You could define ranged and derived dimensions using simple formula or built in definitions. You could drill down in real time, filter on what you wanted, and export subsets of records. You could define any categorization you wanted against any schema, any mapping rules you wanted, they were organized into priority groups, given a priority order, and run most specific to least specific so you never got a collision or random mapping like you might in a tool where you just defined non-prioritized rules that went in a database and often got applied in random order. You could define supplier families that could be reused. You could build your own cross-tab reports. It was the swiss army knife of analytics, at a price every organization could afford.

This quickly made BIQ a favourite not just among mid-market companies that couldn’t afford, and big companies that didn’t want to afford, high priced services, but also niche consultancies that could now do power-house analytics projects on their own, including firms like Lexington Analytics and Power Advocate. This, along with some really smart marketing, pushed BIQ into the mainstream of spend analytics providers, making it a de-factor shortlist candidate for any company wanting do-it-yourself spend analysis. This, of course, got the attention of many providers, who were afraid of the threat, in awe of the technology, or both.

One of these providers was Opera Solutions, who acquired BIQ in 2012, and shortly after, Lexington Analytics. Once the two providers were merged, Opera Solutions instantly had a complete spend analysis software and services solution for the indirect space. And they have steadily improved this offering since its acquisition. The new version comes packed with some big enhancements, including one capability that is not only market leading, but unique among all the spend analysis providers we have covered to date.

What is that? Come back tomorrow!

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