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Information Builders announced two major new products at its recent annual user summit. The first was InfoDiscovery, a tool for ad hoc data analysis and visual discoveryThe second was iWay Sentinel, which allows administrators to manage applications in a proactive and dynamic manner. Being a privately held company, Information Builders is not a household name, but it is a major provider of highly scalable business intelligence (BI) and information management software to companies around the world.

VRMobileBIVI_HotVendorThis year’s announcements come one year after the release of WebFOCUS 8.0, which I wrote about at the time. Version 8.0 of this flagship BI product includes a significant overhaul of the underlying code base, and its biggest change is how it renders graphics by putting the parameters of the HTML5 graph code directly inside the browser. This approach allows consistent representation of the business intelligence graphics in multiple device environments including mobile ones. Our research into information optimization shows that mobile technology improves business performance significantly in one out of three organizations. The graphics capability helped Information Builders earn the rating of Hot vendor in our latest Value Index on Mobile Business Intelligence. It is an increasingly important trend to combine analytics with transactional systems in a mobile environment. Our research shows that mobile business intelligence is advancing quickly. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of participants said they expect their mobile workforce to have BI capabilities in the next 12 months.

vr_Big_Data_Analytics_12_benefits_of_visualizing_big_dataWebFOCUS InfoDiscovery represents the company’s new offer in the self-service analytics market. For visual discovery it enables users to extract, blend and prepare data from various data sources such as spreadsheets, company databases and third-party sources. Once the analytic data set is created, users can drill down into the information in an underlying columnar database. They can define queries as they go and examine trends, correlations and anomalies in the data set. Users given permission can publish the visualization from their desktop to the server for others to view or build further. Visualization is another area of increasing importance for organizations. Our research on big data analytics said data visualization has a number of benefits; the most-often cited are faster analytics (by 49%), understanding content (48%), root-cause analysis (40%) and displaying multiple result sets at the same time (40%).

InfoDiscovery is Information Builders’ contender in the new breed of visual discovery products. The first generation of visual discovery products drew attention for their visual capabilities, ease of use and agility. More recently, established business intelligence vendors, of which Information Builders is one, have focused on developing visual discovery tools on the platform of their well-known BI products, with the aim of taking advantage of their maturity. Currently this second wave of tools is still behind the first in terms of ease of use and visual analysis but are advancing rapidly, and they can provide better data governance, version control, auditing and user security. For instance, InfoDiscovery uses the same metadata as the enterprise platform WebFOCUS 8 so objects from both InfoDiscovery and other WebFOCUS applications can be configured in the same user portal. When a business user selects a filter, the data updates across all the components in the dashboard. The HTML5 rendering engine, new in WebFOCUS 8.0, makes the dashboard available to various devices including tablets and smartphones.

vr_oi_how_operational_intellegence_is_usedThe other major announcement at the conference, iWay Sentinel, is a real-time application monitoring tool that helps administrators manage resources across distributed systems. It works with iWay Service Manager, which is used to manage application workflows. IWay Sentinel allows multiple instances of Service Manager to be viewed and managed from a single Web interface, and administrators can address bottlenecks in system resources both manually and automatically. The tool belongs in the category we call operational intelligence and as our research finds, activity and event monitoring is the most important use (for 62% of research participants), followed by alerting and notification.

Sentinel is an important product in the Information Builders portfolio for a couple of reasons. Tactically speaking, it enables large organizations that are running multiple implementations of iWay Service Manager to manage infrastructure resources in a flexible and streamlined manner. From a strategic perspective, it ties the company to the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), which connects devices and real-time application workflows across a distributed environment. In such an environment, rules and processes flows must be monitored and coordinated in real time. Information is passed along an enterprise service bus that enables synchronous interaction of various application components. The use of IoT is in multiple areas such as remote management of devices, telematics and fleet management, predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, and utlilities monitoring. The challenge is that application software is often complex and its processes are interdependent. For this reason, most approaches to the IoT have been proprietary in nature. Even so, Information Builders has a large number of clients in various industries, especially retail, that may be interested in its approach.

Information Builders continues to innovate in the changing IT industry and business demand for analytics and data, building on its integration capabilities and its core business intelligence assets. The breadth and depth of its software portfolio enable the company to capitalize on these assets as demand shifts. For instance, temporal analysis is becoming more important; Information Builders has built that capability into its products for years. In addition, the company’s core software is hardened by years of meeting high-concurrency needs. Companies that have thousands of users need this type of scalable, battle-tested system.

Both iWay Sentinel and InfoDiscovery are in limited release currently and will be generally available later this year. Users of other Information Builders software should examine InfoDiscovery and assess its fit in their organizations. For business users it offers a self-service approach on the same platform as the WebFOCUS enterprise product. IT staff can uphold their governance and system management responsibilities through visibility and flexible control of the platform. For its part iWay Sentinel should interest companies that have to manage multiple instances of information applications and use iWay Service Manager. In particular, retailers, transportation companies and healthcare companies exploring IoT uses should consider how it can help.

Information Builders is exploiting the value of data into what is called information optimization for which they are finding continued growth in providing information applications that meet specific business and process needs. Information Builders is also beginning to further exploit the big data sources and mobile technology areas but will need to further invest to ensure it can be part of a spectrum of new business needs. I continued to recommend any company that must serve a large set of employees in the workforce and has a need for blending data and analytics for business intelligence or information needs to consider Information Builders.

Regards,

Tony Cosentino

VP and Research Director

Tibco’s recent acquisition of Jaspersoft helps the company fill out its portfolio of business intelligence (BI) and reporting software in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Tibco already offered a range of products in BI and analytics including Tibco Spotfire, an established product for visual data discovery. Jaspersoft and its open source Java reporting tool JasperReports have been around since 2001, and the company says it has 16 million product downloads worldwide, 140,000 production deployments and 2,000 commercial customers in 100 countries. Jaspersoft received attention recently for its partnership with Amazon Marketplace and the ability to embed its system into applications using a credit card and a few simple configuration steps. This example of embedding the technology is an area that Tibco knows well from its history of integrating its technology into enterprise architecture across the planet.

vr_Info_Optimization_08_most_important_analyst_capabilities_updatedThe acquisition is significant given today’s advancements in the Business Intelligence market and the need for tools to serve a variety of users. In some ways their technologies serve the same users – analysts and business users trying to make decisions with data but how they approach it and support a broad set of roles and responsibilities is different.  Tibco Spotfire, Tibco’s approach to business analytics, serves for analytics and visualization with specializing in visual discovery and data exploration while Jaspersoft addresses the query and analyze, reporting, dashboards and other aspects of BI. According to our benchmark research on information optimization, the capabilities business users most often need are to drill into information within applications (37%), search for data (36%) and collaborate (27%). For analysts, the most necessary capabilities are extracting data (39%), designing and integrating metrics (37%) and developing policies and rules for access (34%). With Jaspersoft, Tibco can address both groups and also can embed intelligence and reporting capabilities into operationally oriented environments across range of business applications.

vr_oi_challenges_using_bi_for_operational_intelligenceThe acquisition makes sense in that more capabilities are needed to address the expanding scope of business intelligence and analytics. In practice, it will be interesting to see how the open source community and culture of Jaspersoft meshes with the culture of Tibco’s Spotfire division. For now, Jaspersoft will continue as a separate division so business likely will continue as usual until management decides specific areas of integration. With respect to development efforts, it will be critical to blend the discovery capabilities of Tibco Spotfire with Jaspersoft’s reporting which will be a formidable challenge.  Another key to success will be how Tibco integrates both with the capabilities from Extended Results, a mobile business intelligence provider Tibco bought in 2013. Mobility is an area where Ventana Research found Jaspersoft significantly lacking, so the Extended Results capabilities should prove useful. Finally, Tibco’s event-enabled infrastructure will likely play a key role as the company continues to invest in operational intelligence for event-focused information gathering and delivery. Our operational intelligence research has found a lack of integration from business intelligence like that of Jaspersoft with event streams like from Tibco to be a major challenge in over half (51%) of organizations. This is a potential opportunity for Tibco as it looks at future integration of the technologies.

The Jaspersoft acquisition is not surprising given recent changes in the BI market. The category, which just a few years ago was vr_Info_Optimization_01_whos_responsible_for_information_availabilityconsidered mature and well-defined, is expanding to include areas such as analytic discovery tools, advanced analytics and big data. The union of Tibco Spotfire, which primarily targets line-of-business professionals from analysts to knowledge worksers, and Jaspersoft, a more IT-centered company, reflects the need for the industry to bridge a divide that exists in many organizations where IT is publishing dashboards and reports to business.  The challenge of using information across business and IT was found in our latest research, revealed in our information optimization benchmark research, shows that information management these days is most often (in 42% of organizations) a joint responsibility of IT and the lines of business , although IT is involved in some capacity in four-fifths of them. It remains to be seen whether the joint company can take on major competitors that have far more cash resources and take a similar approach.

Preliminary indicators show a good fit between these two organizations. Customers from each will be introduced to important new tools and capabilities from the other. One of the first likely moves for Tibco will be to introduce the 2,000 commercial customers and global presence of Jaspersoft to the broader portfolio. We advise those customers to evaluate what Tibco offers, especially those from Tibco Spotfire which continues to be a leader in the visual data discovery market. Before investing, however, customers and prospects should demand clarity on the company’s plans for technical integration of analytics and how these will fit with organizations long-term business intelligence and analytics roadmaps. Tibco customers migrating to the cloud should investigate the work Jaspersoft is doing with companies like Amazon and consider whether the embedded approach to interactive reporting can fit with their analytics, cloud and application strategies.

The opportunity for Tibco to advance business analytics is significant through this acquisition but it has historically not been as progressive in its marketing and sales of analytics compared to others in the market. The demand for visual discovery and big data analytics has grown dramatically with over three quarters of organizations according to our research has shown as overall important. Big data analytics and visualization is an area that Spotfire had innovated before Tibco acquisition but has not seen its fair share of growth with the buying trends. The opportunity for Tibco to provide analytics and BI that can further leverage the entire Tibco portfolio of integration, event processing, cloud and social collaboration software products is upon them, let’s see how they do. It now needs to supercharge its analytics efforts significantly with leveraging its new products from Jaspersoft.

Regards,

Tony Cosentino

VP and Research Director

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