Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks: Information Builders declares itself 'the new ibi', touts AI data tools

Rebrand accompanies tech launches as CEO hits 18 months in job


Information Builders, that 45-year-old data management biz, has rolled out automated analytics wares and a corporate rebranding with a view to profiting off a burgeoning market for ML-powered enterprise data tools.

Referring to itself as "the new ibi" – yes, lower case – the company has cooked up Automated Insights, which uses machine learning to give users a sample of the insights they may gain from data before they start to do their analysis.

Keith Kohl, senior veep for product management, demoed the system's ability to automate the detection of data correlations and dominance within the analytics designer tool at the company's Virtual Summit 2020.

"We're leveraging AI and ML to streamline customers' BI workflows, automate key steps and recommend actions and provide insights," Kohl said.

The ML engine has been architected as a separate component so it can be deployed, managed and scaled independently of other platform components, the company said.

ibi also made a great play for openness. CEO Frank Vella, who took office in January 2019, admitted customers may have already made significant investments in visualization tools (hello Tableau!).

"We want to promote extensibility using open standards. This means you get more from the investments you've made by bridging the gaps in your data plan where you need to bridge those gaps," he told viewers.

For example, Open Data Visualizations allows users to connect additional data sources, file formats and applications in real-time with third-party visualization tools, using ibi's Open Data Platform (ODP), the company said.

ibi – which counts Lloyds of London, General Motors and FedEx among its customers – is privately held and only vaguely talked of "continued growth in annual recurring revenue" and "quadrupling ARR [no mention of from what base] from its cloud" services in its statement for 2019.

It last revamped ODP in September 2018, with the WebFOCUS product, which took a portal approach to offer both data quality and master data management, as well as BI and analytics.

This week, ibi is launching new products into a market swamped by BI, analytics, data integration and governance tools, many of which are already taking advantage of machine learning. The enterprise data warehouse vendors, analytics companies, data lake companies, and integration companies all want a piece of the action.

Just last week, for example, analytics stalwart SAS announced automated data preparation as part of its automated machine learning and model deployment suite. On data integration and preparation, Informatica introduced its AI and machine learning technology, dubbed Claire, in 2017, and has continued to add ML features to activities such as master data management.

ibi is saying the right things, even if we can say the name (I-B-I? Eye-bee? ibi to rhyme with Libby?). But it will take more than a fancy bit of rebranding to stand out in the face of such fierce competition. ®

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