WebFOCUS is the main business intelligence tool from Information Builders, or IBI. They also have a wide range of other products as well, but for enterprise BI, this is their tool.

For years, the BI tool was tied into the ETL and data integration pieces, but in the early 2000s, these tools were broken out. It can be a standalone but tends to be sold as part of an overall packages (integration, ETL, EPM, BI).

IBI and their tools are a lesser known product in the business intelligence arena. The product was known more for their analytic and developer focused systems. They are now up to version 8, although this version is still only in beta and won’t be available until Q4 of 2011. The emphasis for this version is an easier to use query function and analysis tools.

The underlying architecture uses the FOCUS 4GL protocol, which is powerful but not widely known. It’s a little archaic as well so its not a simple drag and drop. It does allow a lot of complex report work.

In general, IBI business intelligence is good for complex report logic, detailed financial reporting, and other complex report writing pieces. In conjunction with its iWay software, it’s a good front end for data integration from widespread sources. In fact, it could theoretically work with no data warehouse at all. This obviously wouldn’t be a best practice for business intelligence though. It’s a good choice for a web application heavy environment, or an IT group that is good with report and web development. For a department that likes to build their own systems, it’s not a bad compromise. There are lots of customization options.

Resources for IBI tend to be tougher to find compared to the big vendors like Oracle or IBM. Keep this in mind when considering the consulting or staffing aspect.

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