Seagate Software Inc plans to set a major change in its business focus into action next week when it announces free versions of its business intelligence software. According to Greg Kerfoot, president and chief operating officer of Seagate, the company will AOL the business intelligence market by flooding CDs of free software into the hands […]
Seagate Software Inc plans to set a major change in its business focus into action next week when it announces free versions of its business intelligence software. According to Greg Kerfoot, president and chief operating officer of Seagate, the company will AOL the business intelligence market by flooding CDs of free software into the hands of business and IT professionals, in an effort to get BI tools accepted by a wider set of users. Currently, less than 5% of users within a company are likely to use BI tools, he claims.
On Tuesday 15th, Seagate will announce a new desktop data analysis tool called Seagate Analysis, including querying, reporting, full slice/dice and integration with front-end software such as Excel, other Microsoft applications, or the web. More significantly, Seagate will also make its server-based Seagate Info7 product free for fifty users or under. Info7 incorporates the full Seagate software suite, including the Holos OLAP development tool and a management framework for large numbers of users. Fifty user licenses for Info7 currently cost around $20,000. Info7 is a necessary component for any real use of the BI tools, but Seagate hopes that the desktop version will be enough to get users hooked, so that they put pressure on the IT department to install the server version.
Kerfoot says that revenue will come from additional sales of seats and associated sales of Holos and Crystal Reports. He points out that the company went through a similar process in the early 1990s, when it began bundling Crystal Reports in for free with products such as Visual Basic, and then made its money through upgrades. The idea for the new initiative came from Seagate’s free OLAP viewer, WorkSheet, which it first launched last year. He says companies without a product line suited to this model will find it hard to respond – Business Objects Inc and Cognos Inc are the most obvious competitors that could be affected by Seagate’s move. Kerfoot prefers to characterize Microsoft Corp as a partner, and says it will work in cooperation with SQLServer 7 and the Plato OLAP engine.
Seagate’s multi-wave marketing campaign kicked off yesterday with teaser ads in the Wall Street Journal. It says it has strong support from its channel partners, and doesn’t expect to lose any revenue from the deal. Still, the campaign is an expensive one, and it doesn’t look as if Seagate will be filing for its initial public offering any time soon. Kerfoot says it has never publicly stated any intention of filing for IPO, despite widespread reports that it was considering the move, but in any case Seagate is not focused on earnings at present. This initiative is not cheap he says. The company currently has the luxury the proceeds from its sale of Seagate’s Network and Storage division to Veritas Software Corp to keep it in funds. Seagate Software, which has 900 employees, is on target to reach $200m in revenue this fiscal year.