Information Builders to help measure the enterprise

Business intelligence vendor Information Builders Inc. is making a belated entry into the business performance management (BPM) market with the rollout of a new set of tools that it boasts will enable score-carding through the enterprise.

The New York-based company announced the WebFocus Performance Management Framework today at its annual Summit 2004 user conference in New Orleans. Information Builders said the suite will include dashboards, management methodologies and financial reporting capabilities built around standards created by the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative Inc. In addition to serving upper management, it is aimed at helping regular employees align themselves with corporate goals and strategy.

While WebFocus has been employed by users in the past to measure performance, this is the first time Information Builders has formally introduced a tool to enforce an orthodox balanced-scorecard approach, said David Cook, director of performance solutions and new business development at Information Builders. He noted that competitors already sell such products; Hyperion Solutions Inc., for instance, already offers BPM tools. But Information Builders will offer internally developed software rather than applications that are bolted on or have been picked up via acquisition.

The result is a single, and familiar, type of interface for users. Information Builders also said the application will be customizable to suit any company's performance criteria and will support role-based data access and audits. It will also permit immediate access to data as needed.

Kevin Lam, manager of business performance at Telus Corp., called the move a a step in the right direction, because it will enable companies to more easily link high-level key performance indicators and directives to specific business processes. The British Columbia-based telecommunications provider has already been crafting its own BPM systems, using WebFocus as well as software from Information Builder's iWay Software Inc. subsidiary.

Lam explained that when Telus rolled out the system three years ago, it was a challenge to link the company's strategy to its operations, such as in its effort to measure what employees were doing to maintain corporate customer satisfaction goals. That process required Telus to manually build its own BPM system links.

Lam said the company plans to explore the new Performance Management Framework as a potential tool to simplify the creation of company score cards in the future.

The Performance Management Framework is shipping now and will generally start at about US$50,000.

In other news, Information Builders also announced WebFocus Express, which is targeted at value-added resellers and independent software developers that need to do rapid development for online business-intelligence operations. It has also enhanced its software so that developers who are used to using the tools of middleware maker BEA Systems Inc. can write Information Builders-based applications through a BEA interface. Those enhancements are available now.

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