Information Builders Inc. (IBI) has integrated its business intelligence software WebFocus with its adapter technology, iWay, to let companies do a better job of tracking operational data.

Combining WebFocus with iWay, which has more than

280 adapters for accessing Web services, will allow companies to extract data without storing the information in a central repository, IBI says.

“Operational employees don’t just want to collect data and transact, they want business intelligence,” said Michael Corcoran, vice-president and chief communications officer at IBI during a press briefing on WebFocus 7.

As more users within a company begin using BI tools, administering them becomes more expensive, said Kevin Quinn, the vice-president of product marketing.

WebFocus 7 includes autonomic features and “self-aware servers,” he said. The servers can detect peak times and wake up dormant servers.

“So whether you’re at a peak time or a slow time, the performance is the same,” Quinn said.

WebFocus 7 also has capacity planning. If a company is planning to ramp up the number of users, it can simulate how performance will change, he said.

The tool’s service-oriented architecture will allow it to access data from COBOL, green screen and other systems, Quinn said.

“BI can be embedded in any application.”

IBI says it designed WebFocus 7 to be easier for users who have little or no training in BI tools. Users can build parameter-driven reusable reports, it said.

Integrating WebFocus and iWay is a good move, said Keith Gile, a business intelligence principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

“BI has been seen as exclusively for the data mart and data warehouse.” With this, ERP, CRM and other applications are also “fair game for BI,” Gile said.

“Customers are asking for this. One of the comments I continue to hear is, ‘We want more than just reporting.’” Customers want to gain a better understanding of the whole product life cycle.

BI needs to become more tightly integrated with other solutions, Gile said.

“It must be so well camouflaged that people don’t even know it’s BI.”

This would make it less intimidating for users, he said.

“If someone has to go to a tool and make their own queries, a vast majority of users won’t do it,” he said. Users want queries written for them and embedded in other applications they use.

 At Montréal-based Pharmascience, employees use WebFocus BI tools to get sales reports and do marketing analysis, said Jonathan Despres, the company’s manager of information access.

Users are able to slice, dice and analyze the information they gain through the company’s SAP modules, Despres said.

WebFocus has drastically cut down the amount of time it takes users to build reports, he said.

“Before having WebFocus, people would spend at least one week per month, now they just select some parameters and get reports in minutes.”

The other major benefit is that the company now has one set of facts, he said. Before, when users were discussing factors such as net sales, everyone had a different understanding of what they were talking about. Now everyone is on the same page, Despres said.

The company is currently using WebFocus 5.3 but began taking a look at WebFocus 7 more than a month ago.

Despres said Pharmascience plans to upgrade to the latest version in September.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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