The Gospel According To Gerry Cohen - InformationWeek

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The Gospel According To Gerry Cohen

The CEO made his case at the company's user conference that Information Builders is the preeminent, and potentially standard, business-intelligence vendor.

Talk about a tough act to follow. Gerald Cohen, CEO and president of Information Builders, the business-intelligence software vendor, employed a local gospel choir singing "This Little Light Of Mine" to introduce his keynote address at the company's 25th annual user-group conference in New Orleans. Unfazed, Cohen proceeded to make his case for Information Builders as the preeminent--and potentially standard--vendor of business-intelligence software and tools.

"Business intelligence is becoming a category [of software], just like ERP and CRM," Cohen told the audience of about 1,000 mostly technical users, along with some business managers. "Companies are starting to standardize on one or two tools, instead of 25 or 30." The reasons for this product consolidation are pragmatic, Cohen said: lower training costs, lower upgrade costs, and lower "product-selection" costs. Also, software consolidation promotes hardware consolidation because standardizing on one or two software packages means companies can run multiple applications on a single machine, Cohen said.

Information Builders is concentrating its development work on enterprise-oriented systems, Cohen said. That means the company's software and tools must be able to work with all the systems and software already in an organization; must provide broad functionality; and must be scalable so that they can run on fewer machines. Information Builders' products, which include the Focus and WebFocus business-intelligence and reporting tools and the iWay app-integration software, support every Java environment, every data source and format, and every application system, Cohen said.

Also, the company's tools provide a "richness of functionality so that all kinds of [business-intelligence] application types are practical," such as report distribution, managed environments, and end-user analysis. Cohen also cited an unidentified user who the company claims was able to reduce the number of servers running business-intelligence applications from 3,600 to 2,000 using Information Builders software. Cohen's speech also included a demonstration of an upcoming release of WebFocus, code-named Tango, that the company says dramatically improves the product's scalability and administration functions.

Cohen also cited a change to the company's service and support strategy, introducing a "Follow The Sun" strategy that provides 24-hour, seven-days-a-week telephone and Internet support.

As part of the keynote speech, Cohen presented several Information Builders user companies with awards for technology innovation.

• The Most Innovative Use of Technology award went to the state of Louisiana's Department of Social Services, for an application that cuts down on food-stamp fraud.

• The Most Scalable Application went to Lockheed Martin for an application that distributes reports to 6,000 users.

• The Highest ROI want to Telus, a Canadian telecom company that says it's saving $1 million to $2 million a month on field support with an application built with Information Builders software.

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