Takeaways from the Information Builders Summit

June 16, 2011
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Earlier this week was the first time I attended an Information Builders Summit.

Earlier this week was the first time I attended an Information Builders Summit. I have to admit that based on my experiences at some other end user summits, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised on the business focus and tone of the summit.

In the general BI market place, I usually get the feeling that vendors are jockeying for the first spot in the market – mobile, in-memory, big data, advanced analytics, and the buzz words keep going. Taking advantage of these to state that they can be everything to everyone and continuously announcing improvements to their products without mentioning the cost related to upgrades and changes that customers constantly face. And even though this represents one of the reasons that makes BI an exciting market from a technology standpoint, I sometimes feel that customers get lost in the shuffle.

On the other hand, I always wondered why out of all of the vendors I speak to regularly, Information Builders was never one to follow the pack.  Throughout my history of meetings with IBi, I always come away feeling that the meeting was productive, but not with that same drive that other vendors have of marketing their wares.  Part of me was actually beginning to wonder what the deal was! After attending the summit, however, I understand. This was the first time I saw Information Builders as a company differently and with a unique value proposition within an already crowded market. Aside from being the most business focused end user event I’ve ever attended within business intelligence (as mentioned above), customers were probably some of the most engaged I’ve seen – excited about technology, the new features and functions, roadmap, ease of use, and wanting to share their stories.

Although within different industries and doing different things with business intelligence, the customer benefits seem to be consistent across Information Builders customers. These include:

  1. Best value for software costs – with the three customers I spoke with formally, each had different goals with BI and evaluated multiple vendors – some just 2 or 3 and one actually evaluated 15 BI vendors. In each case, these customers felt that Information Builders provided the best cost in relation to the products they received.
  2. A strong focus on business intelligence as a driver of information visibility, decision making, and corporate strategy. Information Builders sees itself as the enabler of business intelligence and data visibility as opposed to a point solution and this shows in terms of the value they provide to customers through helping them define the business value they hope to achieve through WebFOCUS adoption.
  3. And finally, the ability to make organizations feel like a special customer. Many SMBs desire a more personal connection to the vendor regarding implementation and services.

And in addition to vendor satisfaction, Information Builders is focusing their efforts on building technology that addresses industry trends, while ensuring ease of use and high levels of interactivity. For instance, WebFOCUS is enabled for mobile devices with automatic device recognition, meaning that developers can create what they need to once, without having to change code to account for different devices. Or their new partnership with Teradata to address the increasing focus on the data warehousing appliance market and the ability to provide customers with an end-to-end BI offering through the use of a data warehouse appliance. Overall, any vendor and solution offering will have their challenges, but overall I came away from the summit feeling that Information Builders is headed in the right direction with a high value proposition for customers.