Searching for Agility: What Search-Based Apps Can Do

Dan Grady's picture
 By | July 23, 2014
July 23, 2014

With WebFOCUS Magnify, any structured or unstructured data, regardless of its source or location, is easy to index and search.

The Forrester Wave for Agile Business Intelligence Platforms has just been released and the insightful analysis is rightfully getting a lot of attention. The research primarily focuses on how successful organizations consistently demonstrate their ability to manage change from both a business and IT perspective.  This is an important skill for sure, which is why at Information Builders we’re very proud to be recognized by Forrester as a Leader, for our ability to enable our customers to adopt, react, and succeed.

The findings of the report give me an opportunity to focus on a capability of the Information Builders platform that sometimes gets overlooked, even though it provides our customers with a great amount of agility from both the business and IT perspective.  It’s our ability to create Search-Based Applications with WebFOCUS Magnify.

The report discusses how important this is, noting the challenges organizations face in achieving “customer stickiness” due to the demand for “instant gratification.” I don’t think there are too many who would dispute the fact that “Search” is by far the most widely adopted paradigm when it comes to working with information, and in large part that adoption is due to the ability to provide “instant” answers. While the report is quick to point out that ease of use when it comes to BI and analytical tools is very subjective, and I would agree, my opinion is that you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t know what do to with a search box (even my 87 year old grandmother knows how to use Google).

What we’ve done with WebFOCUS Magnify is combine the widely accepted Search model with a world class BI engine that allows our customers to create very powerful and “agile” solutions. Most informational journeys are twofold, first you have to find something, and then once you do - you have additional questions to ask. By marrying the two technologies together you lower the barrier of entry to analytics. This is because we provide the Search interface that does the “finding” and then use the analytics engine to ask all of the heavy duty questions.

Another point from the report that screamed “Search Based Application” to me was “Agile enterprises must gather customer and market knowledge and rapidly incorporate it into decisions”.  This is a demand we are seeing across our customer base. It is such a common use case that we’ve given it a name: “feedback analytics.”  

One of the biggest challenges many organizations are facing today is the increasing numbers of channels from which they are receiving valuable customer feedback, whether it be social media, online surveys, calls to the call center, emails to a help desk, online chat sessions, or something else. Along with the increasing number of channels, you’re also dealing with both structured and unstructured data. To create and manage a data model to handle this constantly evolving diversity of data would be quite a challenge, and I would imagine it is one of the reasons Forrester calls out “restrictive data models” as a barrier to agility. If you use a search index as the backbone of your application, you will eliminate that restriction. With WebFOCUS Magnify we’re able to leverage all of the data access and data management capabilities of the platform, to streamline the process of loading both structured and unstructured data into a search based application. What many would think would be a daunting task, even for a seasoned IT professional, is now something a business professional can accomplish.

While much of the attention in the business analytics space has been focused on advanced visualization tools for the business user, I found it encouraging that Forrester mentions Natural Language Processing and a “search” like GUI as key interface components for attaining both business and IT agility. I agree with Forrester that we are in the “age of the customer,” and the customer expects unlimited access to information. However, I also believe that access to all of that information, whether in their personal life or business, should come from a single Search box.

Here's a white paper on the Convergence of Enterprise Search and Business Intelligence, if you want more infomration.