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Opera Solutions (BIQ/Signalytics): Vendor Analysis (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis

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Opera Solutions takes a unique approach to the process of managing spending data today. Its solution is a hybrid desktop and SaaS application that lets a user manage analytics in the cloud through a highly customized QlikView “front end” or on the desktop, through a new and much improved Windows desktop application with a more modern look and feel than the aged Windows XP interface that BIQ came with for most of its existence. Or, they can leverage both, doing “local” analysis, uploading downloads for sharing, downloading for experimenting and so on. On top of this, they can build their own customized analysis in Python and run it in the in-memory Opera Solutions engine, as well as do custom analytics as fast as out-of-the-box analytics, at industry leading speeds.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Opera Solutions’ Signalytics offers a SWOT analysis, competitive assessment, and comparison with other similar and “crossover” providers in the supplier management and supplier diversity market. It also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep-dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses, and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Opera Solutions for procurement and spend analytics.

Opera Solutions (BIQ/Signalytics): Vendor Analysis (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

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In most cases, spend analysis solutions do not age like fine wine. The speed with which technology innovation is happening can make a product that was state of the art five years ago taste like the equivalent of plonk today — or worse. But Opera Solutions’ Signaltyics, which still leverages much of the code in the original BIQ spend analysis product that it acquired in 2012, is proof that with the right continued investment, even previous-generation core technologies can outdo modern platforms in certain areas. The recent enhancements to the product that we have seen surprised us in positive ways.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Signalytics’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Opera Solutions’ Signalytics. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations. The focus of this review is not on Opera Solutions’ overall Signal Hub enterprise analytics platform but rather its specific solution targeting indirect procurement.

Opera Solutions (BIQ/Signalytics): Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

This PRO series is specifically focused on Opera Solutions for Procurement and not Opera Solutions as a whole. If you are considering Opera Solutions for other enterprise analytics needs, this series may not address all of the relevant points.

Fourteen years ago, in the sleepy little town of Southborough, Massachusetts, a tiny startup set out to give procurement (and business) analysts a self-service yet powerful transactional data analysis tool. This would enable them to do their own analysis and get their own insights rather than having to “outsource” much of the process — including creating rules for classification, reports and different cube views — to a third party. Less than two years later, it released that tool, called BIQ, and it totally changed the spend analysis market for both procurement organizations and consultants alike. 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 significantly less than what larger vendors were charging them (often 5X–10X less). While it did require a lot of knowledge, aesthetic blindness and elbow grease, over time it could be done. BIQ was raw but powerful.

This quickly made the solution a favorite tool among not just mid-market companies that couldn't afford specialized solutions 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 an essential shortlist candidate for any company wanting do-it-yourself spend analysis. This got the attention of many providers, who were afraid of the threat, in awe of the technology, or both.

One distributor of BIQ was Opera Solutions, which acquired the solution in 2012, as well as Lexington Analytics shortly thereafter. Once the two providers were merged, Opera Solutions instantly had a complete spend analysis software and services solution for the indirect space. But just as it achieved this combination, technical innovation on the core platform became inconsistent and market awareness was all but nonexistent. Yet in more recent years things have changed. BIQ is back. The new version (fall 2017) comes packed with some big enhancements, including one capability that is not only market leading but also unique among the spend analysis providers we have covered to date.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Opera Solutions and whether its capabilities are a fit for their needs. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and a detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Opera Solutions for procurement and spend analysis. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.