A half day demo of the Risk Analysis wares of Palisades @Risk package which works with Microsoft Excel and Project was enlightening both for the BI software on display and strategy required to survive in the BI desktop field. This is one of the BI on the PC desktop companies that has so far managed to dodge the freebie bullets being AK47-ed into BI market by Redmond. But even if Palisade management moves the software over to a Java base as Business Objects Crystal Reports unit did – there is still no guarantee a Java Open Source project may not do Palisade in. For example, Crystal Reports now faces the Open Source BIRT project which will create a second free Java-based report designer and writer for Eclipse. So Palisade has to tiptoe carefully through the lead tulips.
And congratulations for Palisade dodging the BI bullets and here is some of the reasons why:
Palisade has a suite of decision tools that are primarily add ins to Microsoft Excel and Project.
@Risk for Excel – makes adding risk analysis for any Excel model easy and compelling;
@Risk for Project – carries PERT and risk analysis to a new level for Projects (see above);
Precision Tree – brings decision tree analysis to Excel in a novel way;
Risk Optimizer – brings very sophisticated risk/stochastic optimization within practical grasp;
TopRank – takes what-if sensitivity analysis to a new level in Excel
These tools plus about a dozen other utilities can be seen in inline tutorials at the Palisade website. This may be in part a response to the Open Source threat, but it makes good business sense as do the free 1/2 day tutorials plus extensive range of training, mentoring and consultative modeling services available from the company. Finally, Palisade has gone components – there is a RDK available for $1000 that enables a developers to produce their own , standalone Risk Analysis models. Currently Palisade is considering .NET and possible Java versions.
The bottom line is that Palisade is doing what just about every ISV is going to have to do – getting involved heavily into the downstream training, mentoring , consulting enablement of their software for clients. This not only solidifies original sales but also brings in what may become life-blood downstream revenues – and as shelfware declines, both parties prosper.