Time to Get Creative with BI Software, Info Builders Says
January 19, 2010 Alex Woodie
Time was, the only “business intelligence” your company required could be gleaned from a 12-inch stack of green-bar reports and a pot of strong coffee. But times have changed, and keeping up with the Joneses today requires slightly more sophisticated forms of data analyses. One developer of modern BI technology, Information Builders, recently shared some customer success stories that showcase unusual uses of its WebFOCUS suite.
Information Builders is encouraging its customers to think outside the box when it comes to building and deploying BI software. While most organizations that have adopted BI currently use it for back-office reporting, that’s not taking full advantage of the latest advances in the field, the vendor says.
For starters, organizations can get a better return on their BI investments by focusing on self-service applications that distribute operational information to a wider circle of company staff–or even distribute it to customers, the New York City-based software vendor says.
“The time is now for enterprises to think beyond the classic analytical application of BI for a few back-office analysts,” said Kevin Quinn, vice president of product marketing at Information Builders, who helped build a World Series prediction machine last fall. While it turns out that Quinn’s machine did not predict the winner of the World Series, Info Builders has plenty of other customer stories that showcase unusual applications of BI technology.
One example is Levy Home Entertainment, a provider of logistics and fulfillment services for retailers that sell books. Instead of developing an enterprise data warehouse to analyze data generated from its i/OS-based business applications, the distributor used WebFOCUS to access the i/OS data directly. This enabled the company to create dashboards and reports without incurring the hassle and expense of building a full-blown data warehouse.
According to Information Builders, Levy’s new system gives managers access to sales reports that summarize which books are selling the best across more than 10,000 retail locations. Levy’s also created a publisher portal that lets 300 partners and customers see Levy’s sales and inventory data, along with the capability to track purchase orders and gauge inventory shortfalls.
“We wanted to get to the information-production stage very quickly,” stated Marty Wehrle, senior vice president and chief information officer for Levy, in an announcement from last year. “Information Builders enabled us to access the data and create meaningful reports almost immediately. They showed us how we could directly access the data in our production systems and create intermediate data stores for reporting.”
Info Builder’s WebFOCUS is one of several BI products that run natively on the i/OS platform. WebFOCUS also forms the basis of IBM‘s DB2 Web Query product as the result of an OEM agreement between the two vendors.