Information Builders

Information Builders, or IBI, is one of the few remaining big independent business intelligence vendors. Along with Microstrategy and SAS, they are bumping up against the big boys. They’ve grown mostly organically unlike some of the other players, who have built recently through acquisitions.

They originally started as a data integration firm back in the 1970s. They developed an extensive software suite that was known for strong cross-platform flexibility, especially on mainframes and big servers. They continued developing these data integration abilities until the 1990s, when they tried to “downsize” their applications for use in the then exploding Windows architecture. This worked to some extent, but their industrial strength integration products were probably overkill for smaller applications.

Around 2000, IBI began expanding out its product suite again to meet more of the end user demand. It also started offering its products as standalone options, including its iWay data integration and WebFOCUS offerings.

Their big strength in BI is its data integration. With iWay, they are pushing the ability to connect to any data source. Their tools are also known as being very IT and technical focused, very strong on the back end of systems. With over 30 years of experience, their architecture is very robust and time tested. For an IT department that likes building their own applications and customizations, their products can look very promising. The 4GL language that IBI uses is very powerful, allowing for a lot of deep data logic work and complex report logic. It’s not intuitive to use in most cases, outside of the deep IT arena.

While they have been known as a very technically focused company, they have made a push with recent releases to be more “user-friendly”. This has included improved query and report analytis functions, and a new mobile BI offering.

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