CASE STUDY - Monolith Serves Software as a Service Business Intelligence to the Quick Serve Restaurant Industry
Commentary by Bruce Belvin, CEO, Monolith
Monolith Software Services, headquartered in Charleston, SC, provides software and services to the Quick-Serve Restaurant (QSR) industry. The company brings powerful and cost-effective solutions to restaurant owners and operators by combining state-of-the-industry open source technologies with a product philosophy that lets customers leverage existing investments in hardware and other technology infrastructure.
Monolith’s suite of proven tools enables companies—typically those operating multiple restaurants under multiple brands—to more effectively track and manage restaurant performance at a cost significantly below that of its competitors.
Maintaining the Growth Curve
Monolith’s early success and reputation for extensive restaurant industry expertise enabled rapid growth in an industry filled with tough competition. As its Above-Store Monitoring offering was adopted by larger companies, Monolith needed to upgrade the solution. Above-Store Monitoring is a BI tool offered online in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.
Among Monolith’s requirements for a viable solution, support for multi-tenancy, in which a single instance of software serves multiple client organizations, was critical. “The nature of SaaS dictates that you have one implementation serving many different companies,” said Bruce Belvin, CEO of Monolith. That meant every application or infrastructure software component in the solution stack had to accommodate this need.
“Our solution lets owners consolidate, separate, and analyze their store performance along a lot of dimensions—geography, product type, product grouping, and a range of demographics,” said Belvin. “So the technology had to let people access things according to their current need.”
A Preference for Open Source
To create a competitive, robust, and highly appealing SaaS solution, the Monolith team decided to continue its reliance on open source software components. The QSR industry’s low margins require that operators seek cost-effective solutions. Licensing and other costs for some BI and ETL solutions can be prohibitive, and Monolith eliminated some candidates for this reason alone.
The proposed solution stack was founded on Linux and, for the data warehouse, the MySQL database platform. The warehouse would be fed using specialized restaurant data polling software developed in-house, as well as Talend’s open source enterprise grade ETL, Talend Integration Suite. The analysis and reporting solution selected by Monolith is the Jaspersoft Business Intelligence Suite.
“We chose Jaspersoft and Talend for a couple of key reasons,” said Belvin. “They could do everything we needed them to do. The teams were a good fit. The pricing model was ideal and they gave us the best assurance we heard anywhere that they would help us implement the multi-tenancy features we need.”
“The combination of Talend’s code generator and of the use of industry standards makes Talend incredibly portable and versatile. We were able to convert all our in-house code as well as incorporate some new data sources (fairly complex processing) into Talend integration processes in just a few months,” Belvin clarified. “Coupled with Jaspersoft’s full range of BI functionality—its modern user interface, self-service dashboarding, ad hoc queries, and flexible analytics—the combination was a perfect fit and saved us countless developer hours.”
“Staying open source throughout the stack has let us keep our cost model where we want.” —Bruce Belvin, CEO, Monolith
The fully implemented SaaS solution now serves more than 3,500 end users in more than 60 ownership organizations. Data is polled daily from more than 2,000 individual restaurants.
The solution has proved a good fit with Monolith’s go-to-market strategy. “Staying open source throughout the stack has let us keep our cost model where we want,” said Belvin. “Our potential buyers are small business owners who might be choosing between our solution and fuel for their boat or motor home for the next year. Because we have to compete on this emotional level, being able to go fast and price aggressively gives us a real competitive advantage.”
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