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Not only is Information Builders now IBI, but the vendor also is trying to modernize its analytics suite by adding augmented intelligence capabilities and expanding beyond data visualizations to become an end-to-end platform.
Information Builders was founded in 1975 and is based in New York. Well into its third decade, the vendor's analytics platform was considered to offer one of the more vibrant business intelligence tools. In recent years, however, newer vendors such as Tableau, Qlik and ThoughtSpot have developed innovations that pushed the capabilities of their platforms beyond those of the older analytics purveyors.
Information Builders, however, has responded in recent years to changes in the market. Frank Vella took over as CEO in January 2019, replacing founder Gerry Cohen, and since then has led an overhaul of Information Builders' capabilities with AI and the cloud as focal points along with a target audience of small and midsize businesses.
During its virtual conference last month, the vendor not only further advanced its platform with the introduction of four new features but also debuted a revamped website and revealed that it will now be known as IBI rather than Information Builders.
"It's more than just a new logo," said Keith Kohl, senior vice president of product management. "One of the things we always talked about as Information Builders was that we were a BI and analytics company. But the fact is, we're a data and analytics company."
That, Kohl continued, means that IBI has customers whose needs go well beyond analyzing data but use its platform for data management as well.
"It's a rebirth of the company with new messaging," Kohl said.
As far as the new features IBI added to its analytics platform in late June -- three of which are now generally available -- both the cloud and AI play a prominent role.
Automated Insights is a new tool built on AI and machine learning designed to help users more quickly and easily derive insights from their data; Open Data Visualizations uses IBI's Open Data Platform to helps customers connect to new data sources and embed applications so they can access data in real time in order to make data-driven decisions; Omni-HealthData Cloud Essentials is a SaaS-only offering that will be available in August and will enable midmarket healthcare providers to better use patient data; and finally a new partnership between IBI and ASG, a provider of IT management technology, will enable customers to see key metrics and data lineage information in dashboards and reports to help support their data governance efforts.
Taken as a whole, though none of the new features are going to revolutionize analytics, they further demonstrate that IBI's platform is again modern. More importantly, they will benefit the vendor's customers, according to Mike Leone, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.
"Many of their customers and end users are at a tipping point when it comes to leveraging next-generation technology like AI and ML," he said. "Combined with the need to support more end users, IBI has a recipe for success. They've been successful to date at easily meeting the large-scale demands of growing business and streaming data sets. Now it's about enabling faster ramp up of next-gen technology to fuel better, faster data storytelling and eventual decision-making for more end users."
The response from users, meanwhile -- not only to the new features but also to the evolution of the IBI analytics platform over the course of many months -- has been positive.
Mike LeoneSenior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group
Sound Credit Union, based in Tacoma, Wash., began using Information Builders for its BI needs about two years ago, according to Martin Walker, the credit union's vice president of digital experience and innovation. When the credit union chose the vendor's platform, it was looking for a product that would empower end users to do analytical analysis without having to go through its IT department every time they needed a report.
In addition, the credit union wanted a platform that would provide data management capabilities in addition to BI capabilities.
"With a lot of the other solutions we saw, we really would have needed to have two solutions," Walker said. "Some were very good at presenting the data and visualizations but didn't have the data warehouse component. We would have had to build that out separately or hire a consultant to do that for us, and with IBI we essentially got the whole puzzle."
But while Information Builders provided the data-management and self-service capabilities Sound Credit Union was seeking, it couldn't foresee the evolution into IBI that was to come and the capabilities the platform would enable.
"It was good in 2018, and it is fantastic today," Walker said. "They've led the way for us to understand what is possible. We were in our infancy in terms of understanding how we could leverage our data, and IBI has taken us a lot further than we thought in the last two-and-a-half years."
Regarding the rebranding of company name after 45 years, both Walker and Leone said it is a positive development.
In fact, they said it makes sense given the direction IBI has taken since Vella became CEO.
"It almost feels natural that it comes with the changing of the guard that took play a year and a half ago," Leone said. "Their existing customers will continue to see value and a new wave of customers will look to achieve the same if not better successes."
Meanwhile, Walker, who spent 20 years in marketing, including 10 years with the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics before they left for Oklahoma City, said "it's pretty cool."
Looking toward future IBI analytics platform updates, Kohl said IBI's areas of focus will be to add more AI capabilities, including automating repetitive tasks in the short term and more complex ones in the long term, adding more features to help nontechnical users use machine learning models to assist them with specific use cases, improving ease of use and adding more cloud services to make the platform easier to adopt.
"I believe IBI is headed in the right direction," Leone said. "I think as they look to place a heavy focus on enabling the masses to better achieve data-driven success, it will be well-received by both existing and potential customers alike."