Information Builders Resolves Excel Hell - InformationWeek
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11/20/2008
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Mark Smith
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Information Builders Resolves Excel Hell

Microsoft's prescribed antidote to "Excel Hell" won't be available until at least 2010... So why wait years to evaluate a product when there are solutions today?... Last month Information Builders released its latest product, called WebFocus InfoAssist, which brings a range of BI capabilities for business and IT for easily accessing, analyzing and publishing data across the enterprise.

For more than thirty years, Information Builders, led by its founder and CEO, Gerry Cohen, has been focused on solving the tough challenges in accessibility and integration of data for business. Over the last decade I have personally witnessed the company's evolution to provide robust tools for IT and business. Last month Information Builders released its latest product, called WebFocus InfoAssist, which brings a range of BI capabilities for business and IT for easily accessing, analyzing and publishing data across the enterprise.

If you read my blog on the latest from Microsoft at its BI conference in October, where it accurately describe the dilemma of "Excel Hell" created from the misuse of Microsoft's spreadsheet tool for storing and analyzing data across business. Unfortunately, Microsoft's prescribed antidote, called Project Gemini, won't be available until at least 2010 or beyond. The challenge with Microsoft's announcement is not just the promise of the release in the future, but the estimated requirements for the version of Microsoft Office, Microsoft SQL Server and operating systems. Why wait years to evaluate a product when there are solutions today?Information Builders and other vendors have products that install and operate across your enterprise systems today. I reviewed WebFocus InfoAssist at the recent Information Builders conference to personally experience what has been developed. Through a simple, Microsoft-Office-like user interface, the tool provides the basics of BI including sourcing, querying, analysis and presentation of data, as well as publishing and sharing of data. Information Builders' broad set of adapters to almost any source, including SAP and analytic servers like Microsoft Analysis Services and Oracle Essbase, helps make sure organizations easily leverage existing investments. But what is great is the ease with which you can publish information to a Web page, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint, and WebFocus ActiveReport formats through a simple select-and-push approach.

In what Information Builders calls balancing the producer/consumer needs of business and IT organizations, the WebFocus InfoAssist product provides a way to operate from a common BI platform where information needs to be accessed and analyzed, then placed in whatever format is easiest for business to digest it. Creating reports, dashboards and even custom applications is dramatically simplified using this new product. I am impressed by the gigantic leap forward with this product, which bridges the IT and business divide and operates in a single environment and platform.

With the market for BI technology continuing to be elevated as a top investment in business of all sizes across the globe, Information Builders is one vendor that should not be overlooked. Its many decades of experience and dedication to improve the experience of the products for IT and business is further advanced with WebFocus InfoAssist. If you spend some time examining the product, like I did, you will also see how it maintains the company's relevance in the mainstream BI market, where they are too often overlooked by buyers and the media. Information Builders cannot be criticized for its passion for its products and customers, but let's see if it can capitalize on its potential in advancing the BI agenda in the industry.

Let me know your thoughts.Microsoft's prescribed antidote to "Excel Hell" won't be available until at least 2010... So why wait years to evaluate a product when there are solutions today?... Last month Information Builders released its latest product, called WebFocus InfoAssist, which brings a range of BI capabilities for business and IT for easily accessing, analyzing and publishing data across the enterprise.

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