Jet Reports needed a data warehousing and ETL tool that could help them build their BI Solution on the Microsoft stack. In this interview, Joe Little, President of Jet Reports, talks about how timeXtender has helped Jet Reports boost its BI business.
Why did you choose timeXtender as OEM Partner?
There are a couple of key issues that our users have which we have been attempting to address for some time. We believe that our users are typically stronger in their business skills than in their database skills, as a result many of the most difficult issues that they face stem from their lack of experience with the database model. Jet Reports is an interface and creating a high performance and easy to use solution to this issue in the interface layer is challenging.
Microsoft’s work in this area is really quite impressive and their BI stack has really moved the capabilities of the entire industry forward. A shortcoming of the MS stack is that it really takes highly technical skills to implement making stack based solutions quite expensive and often out of reach for the SMB market. We looked at creating a solution that could bring the Microsoft BI stack to more of our users and realized that doing a really nice job of this was a very big task.
One of our partners had quite a bit of experience with solutions in this area and suggested timeXtenderas a best of breed solution. When we did our own investigations we found that timeXtender had by far the best offering in this area. We were really impressed with this group from day one. They are a very enthusiastic and talented and have great leadership. This was a very important decision for us and we had a lot of options. In the end we elected to partner with timeXtender because we feel that they are the best in the industry.
“In the end we elected to partner with timeXtender because we feel that they are the best in the industry.”
According to you what are the most important ingredients in a success? In my opinion, this is an easy one. Listen to what the stakeholders think they want and work with them until they are really quite sure. Then just do it and do it well. Don’t get rattled when people change their minds during the process; at any point in the process, this is innovation and innovation provides great results. As long as everyone is clear about what they need, what they want, and the difference between these, you can be quite flexible and still hit milestones like clockwork.
How do you see the future of the BI market?
Not many years ago, BI was unreachable for the vast majority of the SMB market. I credit Microsoft for significant developments in this area. They are currently doing some really interesting things and I believe that we will continue to see growth in this area.
Today the solutions are there, but we still see a certain amount of confusion in the marketplace regarding reporting, BI, and visualization. Microsoft really understands software and tools. Companies like timeXtender and Jet Reports really understand how they are used in the field.
I predict an explosion of BI, reporting and visualization in the SMB marketplace in the next couple of years where the technology that is available is brought to the people that can benefit from it.
What year was Jet Reports founded and by whom?
Jet Reports was founded in 2002, the idea and need came much earlier than that. We started as one of the first Dynamics NAV value added resellers in North America in 1994. One of our first very large customers was a group named the North American Native Americans (NANA). Their reach was significant including interests in oil, mining, distribution, and retail. NANA employed several hundred employees and looking back, was probably really too large of an organization to really be a great fit for the Avista product which was character-based predecessor of Dynamics NAV.
At the time, we were all enthusiastic, happy to work hard, and knew that we were moving forward with really great technology for the time. The implementation was challenging, but successful. The one issue that we had quite some struggles with was supporting user-driven reporting. The founder of Jet Reports, Jim Hollcraft, had quite a bit of prior experience in this area and attempted to build a reporting platform that would support user-driven reporting from within Avista.
Very early in the process the users made it quite clear that they used Microsoft Excel and were quite determined to continue using this for an interface. Jim accepted their message and created the first predecessor to Jet Reports.
You are the President of Jet Reports. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My training is in computer science and early in my career I was involved in parallel processing and the sort of heavy algorithms and number crunching that go with that. I enjoyed it but I am born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and really love it here. There wasn’t much opportunity for that sort or work in the Pacific Northwest at that time and so after a short time in London, I returned home and became involved in information systems and focused on the small and medium business market.
What was the original idea behind Jet Reports?
Honestly, the idea just started out of the need to give our clients what they wanted and prove that as a small company we could successfully implement a really significant solution and have happy customers. The Excel part was really the end users idea, we just listened to what they were saying. Others quickly found out what we were doing and showed a lot of interest. We continued to refine the product into what is available today.