BI brethren bolster wares

Informatica Corp., Information Builders Inc., and Business Objects SA are furthering the scope of their products capabilities with new products in the coming weeks.

Informatica will take the wraps off a new platform and data warehouse designed to allow companies to leverage existing BI investments to build component-based, “plug and play” analytics.

The company’s new modular approach to analytics focuses on data integration, data warehousing, and business intelligence. Informatica’s new PowerAnalyzer is a standalone BI solution designed to provide full BI functionality without the need for extensive training and infrastructure support that have challenge many enterprises, said Sanjay Poonen, vice president and general manager of Informatica applications in Redwood City, Calif.

“A lot of BI investments today have ended up as shelfware,” Poonen said. “They are too expensive. They’re too hard to use, [and] they’re too hard to deploy on a broad scale. We [can] sell the bottom two layers of that stack into both Business Objects and Cognos shops. That openness allows the CIOs to leverage their existing investment & and use more and more of our infrastructure to allow them to do things faster and cheaper with less risk.”

The new Informatica Warehouse combines Informatica’s data integration platform with pre-built components needed to quickly deploy a business analytics solution. In addition, Informatica has rolled out four broad data warehouses that contain 14 subject area data marts. The data marts – Customer Relationship Analytics, Financial Analytics, Human Resources Analytics, and Supply Chain Analytics – are modular and designed to be easy to customize.

The warehouse also features new business adaptors containing prepackaged logic designed to reduce the time to extract data from packaged software applications such as SAP AG, Oracle Corp., PeopleSoft Inc., Siebel Systems Inc., i2 Technologies Inc., and Ariba Inc.

Companies today often have the infrastructure to only a portion of the analytics they want to support, said Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting, in Daly City, Calif. Some are missing vital technology pieces at the front end, the tool interface side, the data warehouse, or those needed for connectivity, he added.

“What Informatica has done is say, ‘You tell us which piece you need to improve & we’ll provide the functionality.’ This puts them out ahead of the market,” Greenbaum said. “It’s a strategy that lets the customer leverage the existing investments and get a lot more out it.”

While some of the large enterprise application vendors have rolled out similar functionality, it is tied to their own products; Informatica is providing the functionality to support a heterogeneous environment, Greenbaum added.

For its part, Information Builders, based in New York, on Tuesday will bolster its financial reporting capabilities, according to Kevin Quinn, vice president of product marketing at Information Builders.

The enhanced WebFocus Financial Reporting Platform is designed to be more flexible and cut down on maintenance costs by as much as 75 per cent, Quinn continued.

“We can build reports 50 per cent faster,” he said.

Also new to the software is a forecasting feature, which contributes to the reduction in the time it takes to build reports, thereby creating more time for analysis, Quinn added.

Next week Business Objects will unveil its new Workforce Analytics, a new applications designed to help human resources departments optimize workforce recruitment, performance management, and retention.

The application gives HR managers visibility into key metrics around a company’s workforce, said Gene Villeneuve, director of analytic applications at Business Objects, based in San Jose, Calif.

“It helps organizations improve employee recruitment and retention,” Villeneuve said. “It helps them better evaluate employee performance [and] make sure people with similar skills sets are making similar compensation.”

In addition, the application can segment certain groups of employees, such as those who have worked for a company for a long time, to identify profiles of a successful employee, he added.

Tom Sullivan contributed to this report.

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