Wine Management Systems (WMS), whose Software as a Service technology helps small wineries manage the production...
process, does for its customers what they can’t afford to do for themselves. That is, until they invested in SaaS business intelligence (BI) tools.
“For the first time, the small to medium-sized family wineries can afford [production management] software that used to cost $40,000,” said Pat Oates, chief executive officer at WMS. “Now they can spend $200 a month, depending on their size.”
Wine Management System’s on-demand software essentially helps wineries track the production process, from vineyard to the bottle, Oates explained. A key component is reporting.
Wineries must be able to report on their production processes to both the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which is part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the Food and Drug Administration. If a wine maker claims its product is organic, for example, it must meet a number of requirements and report the data to the TTB. Wineries also have internal report needs of their own that they use to improve efficiencies and supply chain operations.
One-size BI reporting doesn’t fit all
Until recently, WMS designed, compiled and produced the necessary reports for each of its customers, a time-consuming and costly process. Each winery is unique, Oates said, meaning it was difficult to re-use reports from one customer for another.
In one case, for example, WMS spent months and between $8,000 and $10,000 creating a custom report for a particular customer. When finished, WMS showed the report template to five other customers hoping they would be able to use it. None of them found in the report what they needed, Oates said.
In another instance, WMS created a report that detailed all the different chemicals in a bottle of wine. Each of its customers, however, had different requirements for what it wanted the report to cover. One size simply didn’t fit all.
“It’s very unique to each winery so we really found ourselves chasing our tails on the reporting side,” Oates said.
WMS needed a better way to create reports or, better yet, needed to find a way to put report-building capabilities into its customers’ hands so they could customize them to fit their particular needs.
SaaS business intelligence tools gives better accessibility to WMS clients
Another issue was accessibility, Oates said. Some of WMS’s customers are consulting wineries that themselves work with multiple clients. Rather than having to wait for WMS to provide a report, it would be better for them if they could access and update reports online themselves.
One night over dinner, Oates was speaking of his situation with a friend, an IT manager at Levi's. The friend said Levi's had been using SaaS BI and reporting tools from PivotLink and recommended that Oates check them out.
Oates evaluated PivotLink and was sold. The SaaS BI and reporting software was intuitive enough for non-experts – like winemakers – to use, and because it was on-demand, WMS could easily embed the technology into its own SaaS-based product.
“This allows [our customers] to get on the Web and do different analysis, do different dashboards,” Oates said.
PivotLink was also in WMS’s price range. “We’re a small company ourselves,” Oates said. “We couldn’t afford Hyperion or Cognos or something like that.” Like most SaaS software, PivotLink charges customers like WMS monthly subscription fees as opposed to large, up-front payments typical of on-premise software.
While Oates would not say what he pays PivotLink, he said it is a tiered contract – the price goes up for every 50 wineries using WMS and PivotLink – and considerably less than what BI mega-vendors are charging.
WMS clients are drinking up BI reporting
WMS customers are just getting their first taste of PivotLink’s reporting capabilities, Oates said, and so far, most like what they see.
“When you get down from the big wineries, they don’t even really know what BI is,” Oates said. “When you explain it to them, they get really excited.”
Oates expects giving customers the ability to create and modify their own reports will also free up WMS staff to work on other projects, specifically on improving the company's core product.
“We want to spend our time adding to our system and not doing reporting,” Oates said.
For WMS, PivotLink is also proving a competitive differentiator.
“It really sets us apart from our competitors because none of them even have any BI, let alone Web-based BI,” Oates said. “It’s really worked out well for us.”