TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

WebFOCUS, Now Even More Self-Serviceable!

IBI might not be the first vendor you'd associate with self-service; it's a 40-year-old company, after all. Surprisingly, self-service isn't anything new for the folks at Information Builders.

At its Summit User Conference, held in early June in Reno, Nevada, Information Builders Inc. (IBI) announced the general availability of its WebFOCUS Business User Edition (BUE).

As its name suggests, WebFOCUS BUE is a self-service business intelligence (BI) platform.

IBI might not be the first vendor you'd associate with self-service; it's a 40-year-old company, after all. However, self-service isn't anything new for the folks at Information Builders.

Almost a decade ago, IBI introduced WebFOCUS InfoAssist, a guided, ad hoc query tool for novice and power users alike. More recently, it merged InfoDiscovery -- its self-service visual discovery offering -- with InfoAssist, which it now calls InfoAssist+. IBI also markets WebFOCUS Magnify, a businessperson-oriented analytics search offering powered by open source natural language search (NLS) technology.

These latter programs were introduced back when the biggest names in NLS analytics search were arguably Endeca (subsequently acquired by Oracle) and Neutrino Concepts. These companies also touted their offerings as adjuncts to self-service discovery.

The point is that IBI isn't a stranger to the cutting edge, or to self-service. (For another example, WebFOCUS delivered RStat, an R-based workbench -- complete with one of the first R GUIs -- back in 2009.)

In a sense, WebFOCUS BUE is an update of IBI's venerable BI reporting platform for the self-service era. It offers guided ad hoc query capabilities via WebFOCUS InfoAssist+. Because InfoAssist is bundled with InfoDiscovery, BUE boasts a built-in, self-service visual discovery component too. IBI also claims to have built self-service data prep capabilities into BUE -- although officials didn't say much about the versatility of these features.

Self-service capabilities set WebFOCUS BUE apart -- but from what? From WebFOCUS itself, which already includes self-service features? Yes and no. BUE is actually one of three different WebFOCUS editions: the others are WebFOCUS Application Edition (for embedded app development) and WebFOCUS Enterprise Edition, IBI's take on the classic, oft-derided enterprise BI platform.

Think of BUE as a version of WebFOCUS optimized for self-service.

Like its predecessors, BUE is a browser-based tool. It also has a portal component that permits information consumers to customize and curate their own content -- depending, naturally, on just how much leeway IT or their parent organizations give them to do so. As with IBI's other WebFOCUS editions, BUE consumers can also create their own reports and share them with colleagues.

Finally, like its WebFOCUS kin, BUE supports a collaborative experience. Self-serving consumers can use WebFOCUS BUE to collaborate, share ideas and insights, divide labor, and accelerate discovery.

"Whether [used in] a small or midsize business or a department within an enterprise, WebFOCUS Business User Edition gives more stakeholders the ability to tap and glean vital insights from large data sets and promote better decision making for all," said IBI cofounder Gerry Cohen in a statement.

Cohen noted that WebFOCUS BUE has been available as part of a beta preview program for months. "Early BUE customers have been quick to realize the value of this solution, and we are pleased to announce its general availability at Summit 2016."

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at evets@alwaysbedisrupting.com.


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