Business Intelligence - there was a time when we'd joke about that being an oxymoron. But today, it's an important technical discipline that is critical for ensuring that the right information is in the hands of the right people so that they are able to make the best possible decisions.
One of the best pieces of advice we ever received was that knowing a business's data was the best way to know how that business really works. And the tools for knowing a business's data are quickly getting more flexible and powerful.
Over the last few weeks, there have been a steady stream of announcements by a number of companies in the BI space. We've looked at them and pulled out a few of the most interesting to share.
IFS puts BI into ERP
ERP software vendor IFS, boasting an impressive customer list that includes Visy, AB Equipment, Babcock, Dairy Australia and Lufthansa Technik Qantas has updated their ERP software, putting business information in front of users while they work.
“BI by Choice, BI Built in” customers are able to integrate their own BI tools into the IFS ERP applications. Integration with Microsoft's BI solution is available out of the box
“We continue to invest in our BI offering. IFS’s BI strategy represents a company-wide commitment – from R&D’s long-term product planning to the BI Groups’ customer-focused consulting, IFS focuses on delivering real business value at every stage,” said Thomas Säld, VP Research & Development, IFS.
Cloud based BI
It's fair to say that the cloud has permeated almost every layer of the enterprise so it's no surprise that BI tools have found a place in the cloud. Information Builders is an independent leader in BI solutions, has collaborated with consulting firm Mercurial to launch a cloud-based BI services.
“Moving to a cloud platform provides us with the ability to implement solutions and service our clients much more rapidly, with the added benefit of the security and integrity that cloud services provide,” said Adam Hawkins, Co-founder and Managing Director of Sydney-based Mercurial.
Mercurial’s services were initially built on an ASP model, with users logging in to their own physical partitions in Mercurial’s data centre to retrieve live information via a web browser. Mercurial has worked with Information Builders to re-architect its services to a cloud-based model, eliminating the need for physical servers, and broadening the reach of the service to users on multiple platforms and mobile devices.
BI takes a tablet
There's no surprise in the BI industry looking at tablet-based applications. In many ways, the tablet form factor is a perfect presentation tool for business data.
Information Builders recently announced at the 2011 Summit User Conference a free Mobile Faves application for iPad and iPhone. This is the latest addition to their WebFOCUS toGo series of mobile offerings on Apple’s App Store.
Mobile Faves for iPad and iPhone provides workers and executives a native way to view, save, catalog, search, e-mail, and subscribe to pushed BI documents. Enhancements to WebFOCUS Active Technologies provide a device-specific user experience on mobile devices, including mobile menus, controls, gestures, and interactive charting.
Usability enhancements for Yellowfin
Yellowfin's latest release is focussed on usability. Typically, new software releases are all about adding new functions but a recent research note from Gartner stated that
‘Ease of use’ is now the No. 1 reason why organizations select a BI platform - surpassing ‘functionality, which has traditionally been the No. 1 reason. Strong functionality is clearly no longer enough.
“BI Platforms User Survey, 2011: Customers Rate their BI Platform Functionality", 31 March 2011, Rita L. Sallam, Gartner Research Note G00211770
Amongst the enhancements Yellowfin has introduced are a range of new chart types, improved filtering and enhancements to report building tools as well as a revision to the user interface.