So why is Saas BI so suitable for smaller businesses?
1) Small and medium-sized businesses often cannot justify the large CapEx of traditional BI, do not have the IT resources to run an on premise database and server system and are not sure that they have the breadth or depth of data to warrant such a system. Often their needs change and evolve far faster than software is developed and installed. SaaS payment structures mean that you have no CapEx and only pay for the amount you use the product. If half your users find they they aren't deriving any value from the software, they can easily cancel their subscriptions at the end of the month, halving the cost.
2) Traditional BI demands technical expertise both to manage and use. Business users could not quickly perform analysis themselves; queries had to be made through the IT department and often involved long delays. As there is no software to install, there is no daily maintenance or routine tasks to be done, so nothing to require extra IT hands or expertise. This frees IT professionals to concentrate on strategic IT and growing the business.
3) With traditional BI having enough data to justify the BI spend is certainly a problem. The huge upfront costs and time investment often cannot be justified by the need for a couple of key decision makers to analyze a small number of records. SaaS BI gets rid of this problem as it provides fully functional BI suite available for just one person. SaaS applications can be rapidly scaled up or down as your business needs change.
4) Most SaaS products are lightweight and designed to complement the investment in data storage and manipulation that you already have. For example, most SaaS BI solutions plug directly in to online and traditional sources to extract data, then allows creation of visualizations and dashboards with a few clicks.
5) Access and sharing were the original drivers of the SaaS cloud computing model so applications make it easy to get useful visualizations to the right people quickly by inviting people to your dashboard's URL or embedding it in a website or blog.
BI products have traditionally required huge upfront costs, had long lead times and demanded technical expertise to use. SaaS allows powerful functionality without the need for any of these, making it a highly profitable investment for SMBs. This isn't to say that large enterprises cannot benefit from SaaS BI too. Within departments or teams, larger organizations are deploying SaaS BI more and more as they realize its potential.