Information Builders Offers Cloud-First Product Development Roadmap Amid A Broad Company Makeover

Under new management, business analytics and data management software developer IBI also unveiled expanded customer support and services initiatives at its Virtual Summit 2020 conference.


Is 45 too old to be a startup?

Information Builders, founded in 1975 and a pioneer in the business analytics software industry, unveiled a broad company makeover at its Virtual Summit 2020 Tuesday that includes a range of new products, expanded customer and partner support services, and new branding and go-to-market plans.

The changes come 18 months after Frank Vella (pictured), hired as the privately held company’s chief operating officer in late 2017, took over as CEO from IBI co-founder and long-time CEO Gerald Cohen. The company’s management ranks have since undergone significant changes including the hiring of IBM and Syncsort veteran Keith Kohl as senior vice president of product management in December 2019 and Carol McNerney, previously with Savills North America and IBM, as chief marketing officer in January.

Sponsored post

[Related: The Big Data 100 2020]

“Let’s talk about the relationship between data and your business,” Vella said in a keynote for the Virtual Summit 2020, addressing more than 3,000 viewers, including more than 525 partners. “It has evolved and it has evolved rapidly. We’ve learned how to aggregate data and access data. What’s different now is we have to learn to use data in a more effective way to our advantage.

“We have been diligently building a platform specifically to address the convergence of these dependencies,” Vella said, referring to the challenges of accessing, leveraging, managing and distributing data. “We built a platform that solves for the entire problem.”

But Vella said the changes at IBI go beyond its product portfolio. “Technology and innovation are just the price of admission. In order to bring that to life and into production successfully within your organizations, we’ve been investing in other areas as well,” he said.

IBI has been building a new customer on-boarding program, a customer success program to help businesses and organizations maximize the value of their IBI investments, and a new professional services catalog with fixed-scope services, said Kabir Choudry, senior vice president of technical services and customer success, during the keynote presentation.

The New York-based company has also developed a unified-field technical organization to help customers and partners through software sales and implementation, and a new managed services organization to deliver IBI software as a service. Also new is a “myibi” community platform where customers and partners can provide feedback to IBI product and service teams, said Daniel Ortolani, senior vice president of worldwide customer support services.

IBI did not announce any major changes to its partner program at Virtual Summit 2020. The IBI Global Partner Program, which covers the company’s VAR, solution provider, system integrator and service partners, was launched in February 2019.

In a post-keynote interview with CRN, Vella noted that IBI’s channel partners provide “the last mile” of the value of IBI’s business analytics and data management software by building solutions and providing expertise for specific vertical industries and geographical regions.

Vella said IBI has always been a channel-centric company and is now doubling down on working the vendor’s partners. “I don’t know how to run a business without a channel,” he said of himself, noting his work with the channel through his career at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Virtustream.

IBI officials virtually met with channel partners on Monday to elicit feedback on the company and the planned changes. Vella said partners sought assurances that the company would maintain compensation-neutral policies to avoid channel conflict. Vella said partners also sought more assistance in helping them build cloud computing practices. “There’s a lot of interest in the cloud,” he said.

Vella said the new product development will create opportunities for partners. “The ability to integrate into the unanticipated is what our platform provides,” the CEO added. “It means you can be agile with your customer.”

IBI’s product line includes the company’s flagship WebFocus analytics platform and a portfolio of data management, integration, preparation, quality and governance tools.

Vella said IBI has adopted a cloud-first, multi-tenant approach to its product development. “We’ve been building everything in the cloud. It makes us agile, it lets us deploy what you need when you need it.”

Product management SVP Kohl and Eric Raab, senior vice president of engineering, offered a road map for IBI’s product development.

IBI will adopt an open platform architecture and promote extensibility through the use of open standards as it develops its software, Kohl said. New “open data visualizations” will make it easier for businesses and organizations to use other data visualization tools such as Tableau and Qlik with the IBI Open Data Platform and core reporting engine.

The company will offer “automated insights” by embedding AI, machine learning and data science capabilities within IBI products to make them simpler to use by a broader audience.

The company also will provide integration between its own analytical and data management products and ASG Technologies’ Data Intelligence information access and management software. And the company unveiled the Omni-HealthData Cloud Essentials data and analytics system for mid-market healthcare providers.