Q&A With Information Builders CEO Gerry Cohen - InformationWeek

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Software // Information Management
01:31 PM
Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp

Q&A With Information Builders CEO Gerry Cohen

The chief executive shares his views on "operational" BI, growing competition from enterprise software companies, and recent enhancements to Information Builders' WebFocus software.

Business Intelligence Pipeline: Since Information Builders is privately held, can you give us insight into your recent financial performance?

Cohen: We had a very good third quarter, which ended Sept. 30. Looking at the nine-month period, our level of new business was the best we've had in four years. People are buying BI. We're doing more large deployments. We have lots of deals over half a million dollars. It's a growing marketplace.

Business Intelligence Pipeline: Differentiate between your BI product revenue and your integration product revenue.

With BI revenue versus integration revenue, there's about a 15-20 percent overlap. Lots of customers like to buy from just one vendor. We have implementations where the customer uses both applications. We've got one customer in the credit card industry, for example, that wants to be able to transfer all their data into a warehouse within five minutes of the data changing. So they use our integration technology to feed those warehouses. Then we're also the reporting agent on that particular warehouse.

Business Intelligence Pipeline: Which side of the business is growing more?

Cohen: Our integration business is doing great. That's a business, though, that has both direct and indirect sales channels. We're the largest provider of adapters in the world -- the "last mile" of integration, if you will. You might have, for example, an SAP system that needs to read J.D. Edwards data. We provide the adapter to read J.D. Edwards from SAP's NetWeaver. SAP buys our adapters and resells them. Oracle buys and resells them. BEA resells them. Sun resells them. All these guys are part of our indirect channel.

Business Intelligence Pipeline: BI vendors such as MicroStrategy and Business Objects say customers are "standardizing" on their products. Is this standardization trend real, and if so, what progress has Information Builders made there?

Cohen: Yes, it's real. We're all doing that. We all say we have enterprise BI, and we're pushing to become the enterprise standard. I'll say this: There's a trend among customers to reduce the number of vendors they use. But that's a trend that companies have had for 20 years. Imagine a company saying, "Oh no. We want to increase the number of vendors we use." During the era when consultants were saying best-of-breed was the way to go, companies ended up with 300 vendors, and that was a lot. The trend to cut down the number of vendors has always been there.

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