New BI tool uses interactive PDF format

NASHVILLE – Information Builders Inc. has rolled out new enhancements to its WebFOCUS suite in an effort to drive business intelligence tools down to front-line workers.

Speaking to customers at its annual Information Builders Summit user conference in Nashville, Tenn., CEO and founder Gerald Cohen said his company envisions a time in the near future where all enterprise employees will be using BI tools to make daily decisions. For Cohen, developing BI applications that are pervasive, cheap and easy to use will be the key to making this goal a reality.

The company grouped its WebFOCUS updates into three categories: enhancements that give businesses insight into historical data, real-time data and future trends.

With the launch of Adobe Systems Inc.’s PDF in WebFOCUS, users will now be ability to filter and navigate large documents and dashboards within a PDF. When used in conjunction with Active Reports and WebFOCUS Enable for Adobe FLEX, enterprises can now create custom and interactive analytic dashboards, which works like a rich application inside a static PDF report.

“You can push these reports through e-mail to customers and partners and you provide zero training for them to use it,” Cohen said. It makes building charts, manipulating columns and creating customized reports incredibly easy, he added.

“Also, it’s disconnected from the Internet, so you can give them a print quality report without them being online.”

According to Andy Hanna, manager of report management and distribution at the Royal Bank of Canada, the tool could especially come in handy for mobile bankers looking to take data reports with them in the field when visiting clients.

“If the have the data there locally in a PDF, they will be able to run queries from the site without having to go back to legacy systems,” he said.

To address the challenges of dealing with real-time data, Information Builders developed WebFOCUS Activity Monitor, which aims to capture end-to-end transactional and workflow data across various applications and business departments. For example, the tool can monitor cash register transactions at a shoe store, track the purchases on a minute-by-minute basis, segment the purchases by brand, and even connect the information back to historical data already compiled in WebFOCUS for comparison.

To address predictive analytics, the company announced WebFOCUS RStat, a tool that Cohen said would convert business users “into amateur statisticians.” The new feature will allow data miners and BI developers the ability to build predictive features right into the software their employees use.

Kevin Quinn, vice-president of sales support services at Information Builders, said the drive behind this release is to embed automated predictive analytics into the decisions a front-line employee makes — whether they know they are using BI or not.

“For example, you dial into a call centre, I look up your information and on-screen it says to offer you a 10 per cent discount to make the sale,” Quinn said. Through past purchases and all the other data the system has collected, predictive analytics can determine what is needed to close out a sale and deliver that information directly to the employee at the right time, he added. Rounding out the list of WebFOCUS enhancements — all of which are available now — are updates to the InfoAssist reporting tool and new features in the Magnify navigation search engine.



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