Ideas Flow at Information Builders Customer Advisory Council Meeting
In New York City recently, representatives of 30 of Information Builders’ customers gathered at our headquarters for two and half days of discussions with Information Builders’ executive leadership on industry trends, product roadmaps and strategic goals for deployments of our technologies.
Face-to-face interaction with our customers is something we truly value, which is why our Customer Advisory Council meetings are always eagerly anticipated within the company. What was particularly impressive about this most recent meeting was the transparency and sincerity of the discussions with and among our customers. The level of engagement was truly impressive. We had to extend every session, and that’s not a complaint. Unfortunately, at many conferences, I often see attendees packing their bags on the second day and looking for excuses to leave. Our Customer Advisory Council members were not only the utmost professionals, they were so engaged that the conversations continued over dinner following daylong meetings. Everyone was left with the feeling that the Customer Advisory Council agenda could easily have been extended by an extra day or two.
Overall, the discussions were extremely productive, and produced three key takeaways:
1. Security is a foremost concern for all IT executives. Not only the ability to provide security in complex environments, but also the management of the entire data gathering process. Information Builders prides itself on the ease of its onboarding process and the intuitive features of WebFOCUS, but the reality is companies have very complex environments and constantly face new challenges. How users can interact with data while ensuring they can protect it is always a central focus at Information Builders. We came away with a renewed appreciation for security considerations, and a list of innovative ideas from our customers.
2. Customization continues to gain importance. We were pleasantly surprised to hear how many companies are using the customization features within WebFOCUS to meet real-time demands in their businesses. Specifically, customers are making use of InfoMini, which allows end users to develop mini-applications on a report-by-report basis. The interactivity of InfoMini allows our customers to customize and formulate reports as they need, and continues to be a powerful timesaving solution. With InfoMini, analysts do not need to be programmers to have the ability to change output formats, apply calculations, select new charts and other functionalities. The interactivity can be tailored for each report or for an entire dashboard. Some users pointed that this can be the new way to build applications—with all the BI interactivity on the ribbon of the tool. This is another very interesting concept that emerged directly from discussions during meetings with the Customer Advisory Council.
3. Data discovery is still an emerging in adoption. Many in IT and their colleagues on the business side of the business need a confidence boost about data discovery. Business users say they like data discovery tools, but IT professionals have discovered that the lack of common metadata can result in incorrect information being shared. Our customers have said emphatically they do not want to relive the days of crunching numbers in Excel-like grids to make sense of their data and help inform business decisions. Information Builders has been working diligently to enhance its data discovery capabilities and demonstrate how valuable data discovery is to businesses and their ability to compete in the marketplace. In the upcoming version of InfoAssist, the data discovery module includes a simple workflow, powerful analytic interactions between charts, beautiful visualizations and extremely fast performance. We believe InfoAssist is a product that can leapfrog the competition and allow our customers to trust in the analytics provided by their IT departments.
These were just a few of the highlights during another very enlightening meeting with our great customers. There are many more topics that were discussed, and we will take the lessons and feedback from our U.S. Customer Advisory Council meeting to our annual meeting for customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa happening Nov. 13 and 14 in Amsterdam.