Friday, October 20, 2017

Why I Choose WebFOCUS for BI/Analytics


WebFOCUS, the enterprise BI/Analytics platform from Manhattan-based Information Builders, has been around almost as long as the web browser. It's the product of choice not only for many large, global firms, but also for many small-to-medium sized companies.

It's also my BI tool of choice. Here are a few reasons why I'm confident recommending WebFOCUS.

Powerful yet Easy

WebFOCUS provides features for all BI users, both internal and external to the organization. General business users can have intelligence automatically delivered to them or users can open intuitive "InfoApps" on their desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Power business users can build their own sophisticated BI applications using the InfoAssist tool with browser-based GUI drag-and-drop features and share them with others in the "BI Portal." Hardcore technical developers can build complex enterprise BI applications using the Windows IDE called "App Studio."

Scalable

WebFOCUS can scale up, able to run on a variety of platforms based on your current needs. Should your usage volume change, WebFOCUS applications are portable and can be moved up from distributed environments to large mainframes. WebFOCUS can scale out, where servers are organized into load-balanced clusters. Whether you have a small group of twenty users or a global audience of twenty million, WebFOCUS can handle the volume.

Any Data Source

Not only can WebFOCUS run on any platform, it has adapters to read practically any data source. Actually, the sources are not even limited to what you would consider "data." Sources can also be applications (e.g., JD Edwards and SAP) and web services (which might be wrappers for programs written in legacy technologies).

Sitting on top of the data source is a powerful metadata layer that can contain items such as: user-friendly business names, help comments, calculations (mathematical expressions, string manipulation, IF/THEN/ELSE logic, function calls, SQL expressions, etc.), security rules, relational joins, hierarchy/dimensional grouping, and other important data enhancements.

All WebFOCUS tools use the same metadata layer, giving your organization a single version of the truth in all generated content.

Highly Dynamic, Multi-Step Procedures

The WebFOCUS engine interprets users' requests at runtime. A powerful scripting and symbolic substitution feature allows a single procedure to be dynamically changed into tens of thousands different permutations based on input selections and logical conditions. When I do conversions of other technologies, it is not unusual to convert hundreds of related legacy reports (e.g., those written in SAP BO Crystal Reports or WebI) into one single WebFOCUS procedure.

Unlike many BI products, these procedures are not limited to a single data query and formatting step. Instead, WebFOCUS can run sophisticated multi-step processes that branch differently based on user input or specific conditions (such as the day of the week, or whether certain data exist, or whether an event has happened or not).

A WebFOCUS procedure is not limited to just your typical reporting and graphing. Instead, the product provides a full application development language capable of building complex data systems. These BI applications can be extended with other technologies, such as C/C++, Java, R, and Python.

High-Quality Corporate Support and Product Enhancements

It's actually quite hard keeping up with all of the enhancements going into WebFOCUS. Being a privately-held company, Information Builders isn't forced to do things based on quarterly share prices. Instead, they are proud of being able to listen to their customers and coordinate product direction based on what they hear. Their customer support group is world-class and continually winning industry awards.

I'm a Fan

I've seen dozens of successful WebFOCUS enterprise BI implementations and proud to have been personally involved with many of them. If you would like to talk about WebFOCUS, feel free to reach out to me.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

IB Summit 2017 in Grapevine, Texas



Several people have reached out to see if I am attending the IB Summit 2017 the week of June 5th in Grapevine, Texas. Due to projects, I cannot make it this year but perhaps I'll see you there next time. 

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.