Although the IT industry is awash in brand names and partnerships, sometimes its good business to stay neutral.
That’s what the business intelligence group at Montreal consulting firm and integrator Source Evolution thought, before a client encouraged it to get closer to a vendor.
Today the VAR is a member of the SAS Institute’s Alliance program for advisory firms. An official announcement of the partnership was announced Wednesday.
Like all members of its current channel program here, SAS partners don’t sell the company’s software as part of their business.
But Pierre Paul Samson, Source Evolution‘s executive vice-president, said in an interview that there are advantages to being an alliance member.
Source Evolution is an 80-person firm with offices in Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa with three specialties: a Microsoft practice (it’s a Gold partner), an architecture and infrastructure practice and a business intelligence practice.
About 60 per cent of its work is in BI, and about 95 per cent of its customers are enterprises.
“We were agnostic” on BI products, Samson said, limiting itself to advising customers on strategy rather than being tied to vendors.
But last fall a Quebec insurance company client with a SAS installation suggested the VAR and the vendor work closer.
The Canadian division of SAS, a privately-held, Cary, N.C.,-based business intelligence and analytics software company, thought the idea was a good one.
Pat Finerty, SAS Canada’s vice-president of alliances and business development, said the company was impressed with Source Evolution’s approach of advising customers to have a value-driven framework for implementing BI.
“When clients have an approach like that we are much more likely to be successful in establishing a long-term presence in the account,” he said.
Being an alliance partner works the other way as well: SAS can recommend partners when clients are looking for advisors.
It already had five alliance members in Canada, and asked Source Evolution to become the sixth and to cover Eastern Canada.
“Our interest was in having players in the field who see business intelligence as a strategic investment,” he said.
As a result of getting closer, the two companies have started to bid jointly on projects, where Source Evolution does the consulting and SAS the implementation.
Finerty said the new partner “is our priority” in its eastern region and a “top player.”For Source Evolution, was founded five years ago and has annual revenue of $8 million, dropping its vendor-neutral stance was controversial.
“It’s something we debated for quite a while,” Samson said before agreeing to be an alliance member. However, the firm realized most of its clients already had SAS software. It also felt that by being a partner it would better understand the vendor’s products and strategy.
The firm will recommend SAS only where it makes sense, Samson said.
“We’re really looking a working the SAS pipeline,” he added, and believes it can increase its business by as much as 30 per cent through the alliance over the next 12 months.
Meanwhile SAS Canada is finalizing its Canadian channel program for partners who will be allowed to resell its software, Finerty said. The program was announced last fall.