Market Trends and Innovations in Customer-Facing Analytics

Porter Thorndike
May 07, 2019

I recently returned from the Gartner Data and Analytics conference. Walking around the showroom floor, it's easy to understand why technology professionals have a hard time distinguishing vendors. Every vendor is colorfully touting data and artificial intelligence (AI) with a beautiful dashboard. As hundreds of people passed through our booth, they all want to know how we are different. Information Builders prides itself on delivering “trusted data at scale." As subject matter experts on delivering customer-facing applications, these are the trends that we are seeing, and are uniquely suited to deliver for your organization.

Customer-Facing Analytics

A quick glance at our website will highlight customer-facing applications from a wide variety of market-leading companies across all sectors.

U.S. Bank’s merchant credit card application tops out at 25 million users, all powered by our WebFOCUS business intelligence (BI) and analytics platform. Customer-facing applications are only possible with a platform that is built to scale, with deep capabilities in cloud, architecture, and security.

This back-end excellence is matched with front-end acumen. What good is a rock star data platform if you can’t deliver information to people in the ways that they want to receive it? Our customers rely on our capabilities in embedded BI because they all have different technology stacks and front-end programming frameworks. Embedded BI is the future of analytics: it embeds contextual insights right into the application that people are already using, maximizing the adoption rate of your analytics investment. It closes the insights-to-action gap because the application in which the insights are revealed is the same place that the user can take action on them. Our API allows you to re-brand and embed reports, charts, and dashboards with complete control over the security and administration of the embedded content.

Analytics Workstation


Market Trend: Modern BI Converges With Traditional BI in a Single Application

The trend that we are hearing from all of our customers with applications of this nature is that they want to add a modern BI component to their customer-facing applications. They have a subset of users who ask for an export of their secure data to write reports and visualizations off of it. This is not a secure or desirable user experience. Because WebFOCUS is both a traditional and modern BI platform, we are uniquely suited to be on the leading edge of this convergence. Our embedded API extends to our family of web-based, self-service tools that can be white-labeled and connected to your customers' secure data, offering them things like data prep, reporting, visualization, and collaboration – all with a seamless user experience. This is the future of customer-facing applications.

In-document Analytics

Market Trend: Distributing Personalized Visual, Memorable, and Interactive Content

Sometimes, the way you communicate with your customers is not via an application: it’s through a document such as a report or statement that is e-mailed or mailed. Many of our customers write multi-page PDF documents that are then burst and distributed. We have been producing and distributing reports like this for a long time. The innovation that we are seeing here is based on the demands of customers and of the market.

People are demanding that boring PDF statements become more mobile-friendly, visual, and interactive. Moreover, people want to be told a story about their data (dare I say romanced by it?). We have two options to help you differentiate your offering from your competitors and capture on this market trend.

In-document analytics is patented Information Builders technology that embeds data and interactive controls into an HTML5 document so that it remains interactive while disconnected, after it has been distributed. It is optimized for use on mobile devices and is licensed without a per-user license cost and usable with no client software, just a web browser. Because of this, it is a great fit for paperless initiatives and interactive e-Statements. You can create a traditional, branded statement look and feel and combine interactive options such as what-if analysis, filtering, sorting, and charting within the document. It can be burst and distributed to millions of recipients.

The other emerging trend is using data to tell a story. Why do people love infographics? The answer is science! Infographics combine visual communication of information with narrative and storytelling that people love. They understand infographics better and remember them more easily than they do tabular data. Yes, they look beautiful and they are whimsical but science is the reason.

Our infographics tool provides thousands of pre-built templates and millions of searchable, categorized widgets, images, shapes, and icons to help virtually anyone design a custom infographic. Sure, you could use Adobe Illustrator to build a beautiful, one-off infographic that covers everything there is to know about the cheetah, where it lives, and how fast it is, but guess who gets no infographic: the giraffe and the elephant! They get no infographic because those solutions are not dynamically data driven. Our solution allows you to bind the infographic to our trusted data and then burst and distribute personalized infographics to the masses.

WebFOCUS Infographics


As I told many people in my theater presentation and who passed through our booth, no other vendor was talking about these trends because they aren’t aware of them and their platform can’t support them. I’m proud to work for a company that is on the bleeding edge of such cool market innovations. We were early to the market on customer-facing applications and distribution and as a result, we get to collaborate with some incredible organizations on what they see as the future of those experiences.

Want to learn more about customer-facing analytics?