Monday, October 29, 2012

IBI Wants You to Present at Summit 2013

Information Builders has announced that their annual iWay and WebFOCUS users group event--Summit 2013--will be held again in Orlando, Florida, at the Rosen Centre Hotel.

The event will be held from Monday, June 3rd, through Friday, June 7th.

Information Builders would like YOU to present at what could be their most-attended event ever (considering that they are, according to Mark Smith of Ventana Research, the Hottest BI Vendor in the World!). In exchange for presenting, Information Builders will waive your registration fee.

I think Orlando is a great location for the event since Information Builders can take advantage of local theme parks for offsite events. While I also look forward to staying at the Rosen Centre again, my fondest memories of Summit 2006 are from Charley's Steak House just down the street. Be sure to ask your IBI sales rep to take you there for a free steak dinner!

See Information Builders' Summit website for more information. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Succeeding with WebFOCUS Skills

In a recent general BI blog, I discussed the TIOBE study showing today's demand for hot programming languages (see it here). I also pointed out a nice eWeek summary of the same study and it is worthwhile to take a look at it here.

But what, you ask, does this have to do with Information Builders' enterprise BI product WebFOCUS?

Well, the reality of today's marketplace is that just having WebFOCUS as a skill may not keep you employed.

Instead, you need to combine WebFOCUS with other in-demand technologies such as SQL, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and web development tool kits like JQuery. Any employable WebFOCUS BI professional needs to possess this cluster of enterprise web application development abilities.

But that is just the starting point. Today's clients are trying to do more with less and keep up with rapidly changing technologies and market events. Your clients or employer will look to you to participate in meeting a variety of needs--other than in just a single software product such as WebFOCUS--which provides you with career opportunities to become involved with many information technologies.

Common examples would be the standard C-based programming languages of C/C++, Java, C#, and Objective-C, which are all in demand. You also have the sizzling web languages: PHP, Perl, Python, and Ruby.

Make sure you are seated before you read any farther.

Seated? Okay, now check out this job trend comparing WebFOCUS to the C languages. That black line across the bottom at the zero percentage is the market demand for WebFOCUS developers. Compare that trend line with the other in-demand programming skills.

Here is a graph comparing WebFOCUS to JavaScript:

Some languages like Objective-C are experiencing an exponential power curve in demand. Others, like JavaScript shown above, have a strong linear demand that is being reinforced by emerging improvements such as HTML5 to support mobile devices.

If the market demand for JavaScript is five times that for WebFOCUS, then companies are going to expect you to know JavaScript when they ask you to build WebFOCUS web front-ends.

Nobody should try to label me as negative just because I point out there is a flat demand for WebFOCUS. There's definitely a niche market out there and you can make a good living specializing in it.

And please don't take me wrong. I'm not trying to tell anybody to give up on their hard-earned WebFOCUS expertise.

My point is that your ticket to success comes from combining WebFOCUS with other hot technologies. With today's employment circumstances, there is no longer a "should;" it has essentially become a "must." 

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Quite frequently, people come to my blog searching for information on IBM's WebFOCUS.

OK, there is some confusion here. ...let's do a backstory...

For much of its history, Information Builders Inc. was known as IBI. A sales rep from Information Builders joked once to me that if he went into a big company and told the receptionist he was from IBI, that person would typically call the executive and say, "IBM is here to see you."

For awhile, IBI was probably okay with being confused with IBM.

Today, they are known as Information Builders. The old IBI moniker is, well, old.

Many of my blog readers seem to be confused as to who owns WebFOCUS. Information Builders does, but just to add a quirk to this, IBM does resell WebFOCUS on their mid-range box under a different name: "DB2 Web Query."

In addition to the similar acronyms, another source of confusion could be Information Builders' heritage as a Big Blue mainframe software vendor. IBM provided the hardware, operating system, and databases and IBI provided the software on top of that.

That partnership worked for decades, but IBM changed the game when they acquired Cognos and became Information Builders' direct BI software competitor. IBM put it again to Information Builders when they bought SPSS, at the time the statistical software partner for WebFOCUS (forcing IBI to switch to the open-source R product).

Despite all of this, there must still be some type of "coopetition" between the two software vendors.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

WebFOCUS 8 Released on 2012 October 9th

The big day has arrived. We first heard about WebFOCUS 8 in 2010 and have been anxiously awaiting its arrival. Information Builders announced today that release 8.0.01 is now generally available.

Important features of WebFOCUS 8 include:
  • Active Technologies using HTML5 and JavaScript
  • Unified Architecture and New Security Model
  • Migration Tools to upgrade from WebFOCUS 7.6 and 7.7
  • Business Intelligence Portal to replace the BI Dashboard 
  • Tools Consolidation and Unification of User Interfaces for ribbon-style GUIs
  • Lots of enhancements and improvements to existing features such as: 
    • InfoAssist End-User Ad Hoc tool
    • Mobile BI for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices 
    • Reporting Server Core Technology and Adapters
    • RESTful Web Services API and Adapter
    • DataMigrator
    • Developer Studio
    • Magnify output feature for easier integration with WebFOCUS and Search
    • New RStat applications

The announcement does talk about "Developer Studio" instead of calling it "Application Studio" as IBI had announced at Summit 2012. I also noticed that support statements and other types of documentation still use the old name, so I will have to investigate where the proposed new "Application Studio" moniker has gone.

10/11/12 Update: Glance at IBI's formal list of products and you will see it includes an active link to the Developer Studio page, but the Application Studio link is inactive with a comment of "Coming Soon" implying that WebFOCUS 8 did not include the new Application Studio. It is quite possible that brand new component was the culprit delaying everything (we know that the Core Report Server 8 was ready to go and actually released as 7.7.04; we were waiting on some front-end pieces).

Later Update: Actually, WebFOCUS 8 may not really be available to the general public. Unlike other releases, you cannot just download a copy yourself from Information Builders' TechSupport site. Instead, there is a comment to call your local office to discuss getting the upgrade. This implies there is a "controlled" release of WebFOCUS 8 to existing customers. Why, you ask? Well, there must be something in the implementation process with which the vendor wants to help you. 

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.