Information Builders' Tools Now Put More Analytics in Users' Hands

The business intelligence software maker is putting more analytics in the hands of end users with guided data discovery, a responsive portal for practically all device classes and Apple Watch support.

Information Builders

ORLANDO, Fla.—Celebrating its 40th year, New York-based business intelligence specialist Information Builders announced today new updates and enhancements to its software platforms that the company expects will pave the way for another 40 years of helping knowledge workers glean business-boosting insights from their company data.

One of the most enabling new capabilities is an Auto Linking feature in WebFocus, the company's BI and analytics platform, which bridges the gap between disparate analytical content for users and avoids a repeat of the "Excel hell" for enterprises seeking to move past spreadsheet-based BI, Jake Freivald, vice president of corporate marketing for Information Builders, said here.

In a typical organization, developers are approaching business analytics independently of one another, with little thought to how users are expected to connect the dots. "Some are developing reports, some are developing a portal, and some are reporting some kind of visualization. No end user should know or care that there are different developers developing those things," Freivald told eWEEK.

Users are then left to pull data and manage it themselves using self-service tools. Instead of leaving workers to their own devices, Auto Linking provides a guiding hand. Working off the WebFocus platform's inherent visibility into what developers are doing, Auto Linking surfaces relevant visualizations, reports and other analytical data related to their queries.

"WebFOCUS Auto Linking is the industry's first technology to automatically provide this capability for all enterprise data elements, and we're excited to bring the benefits to our global customer base," said Information Builders CEO Gerald Cohen, in a statement. "The technology underscores the power of having one unified platform, as it allows organizations to maximize data exploration without IT support or prior analytics knowledge."

Rob Fosnaugh, manager of business intelligence for insurance company Brotherhood Mutual, is a fan of the new animated graph types that provide a new dimension to otherwise static data. "You can have a scatter plot and have an animation of it," he said.

Watching trends emerge in action resonates more strongly with users, he noted, providing them with an observable sense of how different factors affect a business. "With the animation you can truly see what's going on" instead of repeatedly clicking to advance a timeline.

Other new features were on display today, including the WebFocus 8.1 BI portal with a responsive design that automatically adapts to mobile screen sizes and can be customized with drag-and-drop ease. Also demoed were new mapping tools and visualizations made possible by the company's partnership with Esri, a provider of geographic information system (GIS) software and services. WebFocus users can now more easily tie business data to maps that render events in real time and generate easily digestible data.

Finally, Information Builders is embracing the latest mobility trend: wearables.

A new Apple Watch Glance capability has been added to WebFocus Mobile Faves. The feature displays BI-based key performance indicators (KPIs) as alerts to subscribers using the Mobile Faves app on an iPhone or iPad. Users can view a summary, swipe to view other KPIs and create bookmarks, allowing them to explore further on their smartphones or tablets.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...