Interview with Mark Flaherty from InetSoft




InetSoft Technology is a business intelligence (BI) company that has been very active this year, focusing on the process of improving their entire BI solution and to gain presence in the market. Among other things, they recently upgraded their mapping capabilities in their Style Intelligence software, launched a free dashboard software application, and added support for  enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems in their dashboard application.
In this brief interview, Mark Flaherty, Vice President of Marketing at InetSoft Technology talks about some of its new product features as well as some interesting views about the BI market. This is what Mark told us:
JG: Could you give us a brief description about InetSoft and its BI products?
MF: InetSoft has actually been around for quite a while. We started back in 1996 as a provider of reporting software, and over the years we evolved our software into a full BI platform able to perform dashboards, visual analysis, and reporting. We focused on offering a solution that could be easier to use and easier to deploy than a lot of the other big BI software vendors out there. Sometimes, their business suites are really expensive in terms of the licensing and in the staff you have to bring onboard to run them. Also, we aim to bring BI software to an average IT organization that doesn´t have BI experts but that have to work with data bases and reports. We give them tools that have drag and drop and point and click ease-of-use features to create dashboards in minutes, and have them used by typical business users with no special training.
JG: I’ve noticed that your BI tool “Style Intelligence” can work with data that comes from several enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors, is this correct?
MF: Historically, our software was focused on accessing almost any open standard data source and any relational data base source, as well as things like customized files or XML formatted files. But over the last couple of years we’ve started to expand into proprietary enterprise applications. First, we added access to SalesForce.com and their customer relationship management (CRM) application—giving access to the sales and marketing data coming from SalesForce.com. More recently—this just came early in the year—we added support for some of the major application vendors like SAP, PeopleSoft, and JDE. Previously, enterprises using these applications have found themselves a little bit stuck in their options for adding better dashboards and better reporting. Up until now, they had to pay expensive upgrade fees to these vendors to buy their BI suites because they haven’t had the option to go to another independent vendor out there. With our tool, users can access those sources and have the same ease of use and create dashboards as they do with any other data source.

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JG: What are the advantages of your recent version?
MF: We added access to this group of enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. The second biggest advance is in the area of geographic mapping. In the past, we had basic abilities to make dashboards or charts that display your data geographically by country, by state, or by region. Now, we upgraded the mapping capability to deliver basically the same as if you were using a specialized business mapping software application that has fine grain abilities to do multidimensional analysis by geography. So you can color custom sales regions by the amount of sales and identify these regions that look like they’re doing better or worse. You can also drill down into the details and get a really higher level of interactivity, and can access the data related to a geographic area.

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JG: I know that you have another product called Visualized Free. What exactly is this product?
MF: We have two editions of this free dashboard and visual analysis product. One is called Visualize Free and the other one is called Style Scope Free Edition. In fact, Style Scope Free edition is brand new—it was launched this year. Visual Free is a Web-based visual analysis application, where you can load your data into our Visualize Free Web site and then perform interesting dimensional analysis. You have access to our state-of-the-art visual analysis engine to do things like multidimensional charting and different techniques of charting, which are not possible in applications like Microsoft’s Excel. This is really good for stepping into a lot of data to try to find out the answer to unclear questions, and also it is a really good application for people who are doing the occasional or one time analysis.
There is another application called Style Scope Free. This is a downloadable business dashboard application. It’s a free version of our commercial application but for companies or departments that don’t want to pay for a commercial product. They can have a very functional business dashboard application, download it, and have it to work, have access to a database in their company’s network, build dashboards just like in the commercial product, but not certain functionality. For example, they can’t make data mashups. You can definitely make very useful business, monitoring, and executive dashboards with Style Scope Free Edition.
JG: You mentioned the concept of “data mashup.” Could you talk a little about it and how Inetsoft implements this concept?
MF: Data mashups mean combining more than one data source to use the underlined data in a new way. It means creating a dashboard that shows your own company’s performance based on data inside the company, like sales data. You also can look at new vendors’ data from an external report that comes into your company’s network, or you can import the screen to a BI application like Inetsoft and now have this other report and its data available to mashup with your own enterprise data. With this, you can basically chart more than one source of information on the same dashboard. In other tools, you have to take the external report and your BI information from your enterprise data, and manually combine the information from the vendor, this means that you will not really have any information that is shareable within your company and you will not have an updatable dashboard. With a mashup function like ours you can easily bring this multiple sources together and create a useful and time saving business dashboard.
JG: Now that it seems to be a signal of economical recovery, how do you see the interest for BI tools in midsize markets?
MF: Definitely the market is growing, and there is a lot of interest from businesses to take advantage from  BI technology and make better decisions to improve businesses. For many years, this kind of technology was out of the reach of midsize and small size companies due to software licensing and the complexity of software that required BI expert consultants. But with a software solution like Style Intelligence, much more approachable from the licensing stand point, and from the ease of deployment and ease of use, we finally give these companies the elements to take advantage of a BI solution.
Committed to their end users, InetSoft Technology is working hard with their Style Intelligence application to bring the capabilities of BI to a broader number of users and organizations. At the end, the real goal of BI is to bring intelligence to all phases of the business, even if not all end users are completely aware of it. It will be interesting to track the evolution of this interesting BI software tool.

To get more information regarding Style Intelligence from InetSoft visit our Vendor Showcase.
 
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