Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where are the WebFOCUS Skills?

In a recent general BI blog post, I wrote about the use of social networking sites such as LinkedIn by individuals in the business intelligence software industry.

Within my LinkedIn network, 80% of the BI skills listed were grouped into SAS, IBM SPSS, SAP Business Objects, and IBM Cognos. Not far below those on the list were Microsoft and Oracle products.

However, Information Builders' WebFOCUS was way down the list. Within the United States, I could only find about 1400 people who mentioned that skill anywhere on their LinkedIn profiles.

If you are a WebFOCUS professional and not using social media, you need to consider it to be just as important as a resume (in fact, LinkedIn could become an alternative to the traditional resume).

In the past few years, recruiters have turned to social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs as a predominate method of locating talent. In a recent Jobvite survey, almost all of the 800 survey respondents said they had successfully hired a person through LinkedIn.

If you have not already, setup a LinkedIn profile and document WebFOCUS as a skill. Be sure to send me an invitation to connect. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Converting FOCUS to WebFOCUS: Unsupported Features

If you are getting ready to convert your FOCUS applications over to WebFOCUS, be sure to get my checklist of items you should consider by going to this blog posting.

One thing I failed to mention in that article was that Information Builders eliminated several legacy FOCUS features (text editor, end-user wizards, type to screen, statistical facility, etc.) and did not move them to WebFOCUS. Certain things that you may have done in FOCUS no longer exist in the web version.

Therefore, when analyzing a FOCUS-to-WebFOCUS conversion, look for these old features embedded in the 4GL code:
  • TED (text editor)
  • TABLETALK (end user reporting wizard)
  • MODIFYTALK (end user data maintenance wizard)
  • ANALYZE (statistical analysis)
  • FIDEL (green-screen processor used within MODIFY)
  • FMMAIN (the FOCUS Menu facility)
  • ISHFSHLL (the TSO FOCUS Toolkit)
  • PWREP (the TSO Power Reporter)

Converting batch jobs (MVS JCL) from FOCUS to WebFOCUS can also raise serious issues. For more information, see this blog posting.



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Monday, August 15, 2011

WebFOCUS Closed-Loop Mobile BI

Information Builders, the vendor of enterprise BI product WebFOCUS, announced today "closed-loop BI" support for mobile devices.

This is not a new skill for Information Builders. From the start, their products have had features for full application development tasks. Not only can their BI product display information content to the users, but it can interact and gather raw data. Closed-loop means that the user can view information as well as change it.

While some organizations are concerned about BI applications that update data, others embrace it. For one Partner Intelligence client, we implemented a dashboard solution that provided their purchasing group with suggestions for saving money. However, if a purchasing decision maker disagreed with the automated recommendation, he or she could click on that line and cause it to disappear from that and future reports.

That "closed-loop" reporting feature updated a flag in the database identifying that piece of information to be excluded from the report. It was an easy task with WebFOCUS, but may have been near impossible with a typical report writing software product.

WebFOCUS also provided a way for that client to enter currently-not-available information. The purchasing person had some inside information about a future agreement that was not yet in the ERP system. Using a BI data entry screen, this person could add this piece of breaking news into the application that would influence the savings advice for everybody the next day.

During nightly processing, WebFOCUS picks up the new information, builds a formal transaction, and passes it along to the ERP system so that this new information can become active. Had the client needed more real-time synchronization, we could have made the ERP communication happen on a data-change basis.

Many people still dismiss handheld devices such as phones and tablets as being devices only good for "consumption." They want to pigeon-hole mobile devices to reading information, unable to process transactions and update data. Information Builders may help change this attitude.

For more information on Information Builder's closed-loop mobile BI offerings, see their press release

About Me

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I am a project-based software consultant, specializing in automating transitions from legacy reporting applications into modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics using Information Builders' WebFOCUS. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven Best Practice methodologies, software tools, and templates.

I have been blessed to work with innovators from firms such as: Ford, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, where I graduated summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders and for over a dozen years served in regional pre- and post-sales technical leadership roles. Also, for several years I led the US technical services teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the Midwest custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting. My experience with BI products include WebFOCUS (vendor certified expert), R, SAP Business Objects (WebI, Crystal Reports), Tableau, and others.