#Industry 4.0#Analytics #Business Intelligence #Information Builders #Michael Corcoran #Fran Vella

Information Builders: A new chapter in business intelligence

hotmaillogin
|May 1|magazine18 min read

Industry 4.0 is here, and it is driven by data. As the world comes to recognize the undeniable power of data to detect trends, improve efficiency and predict the future, the business intelligence (BI) and analytics industry continues to innovate and scale, in order to fully realize the potential benefits of the information age. Founded over 40 years ago, Information Builders is one of the world’s largest BI, data integration and data quality solutions companies worldwide. Headquartered in New York City, the firm is on the verge of a bold new chapter in its story as it prepares to dramatically grow in size and elevate its brand to the next level. We sat down with Information Builders’ Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Michael Corcoran, to discuss his career in the BI space, new ways to deploy data and analytics, and the future of the business as an industry leader. “We're re-birthing a company that started all of this, back in the 1970s, when it was a very different world. Now, we’re creating a company for the next generation,” Corcoran explains. “It’s much more competitive today than ever. 60 years ago, the average life expectancy of a company was about 75 years. In 2015, it was 15. We have to move more quickly. We have to take advantage.”

Corcoran’s career in IT started in the 1980s working for a leading US aircraft manufacturer. “I worked in the supply chain for the US Navy making fighter jets”, he recalls. “Top Gun came out whilst I was working there and they actually held a special screening at our company. It was really cool, and taught me a lot about the supply chain.” The rapidly advancing art of data analytics is, to Corcoran, as exciting as building an F-14 Tomcat, and closely linked with the changing generational attitudes to technology. “They’re looking for something different and they’re behaving differently. They want to walk to restaurants and bars. They don't own cars; they don't want to own cars. I think that generation is adopting technology. They don't fear it. They crave it, “Corcoran explains, “and that’s exciting to me because I’ve always craved it.”

Despite the speed at which data analytics tools are advancing, Corcoran believes that adoption across the business community is far too low. “Only 10% of organizations are using predictive analytics in production applications – only 10%. Overall, there is about a 35% adoption of BI analytics, and for tools it’s only about 17%. Why? Because, companies don’t trust their data. How do you build predictive outcomes on data you know is wrong to begin with? You don't. It’s a waste of time,” he says. The fallibility of gathered data is the largest obstacle standing in the way of mass BI analytics adoption, according to Corcoran, which is why Information Builders’ platform seeks to address the problem for the consumer. “We’ve taken responsibility for data quality and mastering the data as part of the BI Analytic platform,” he says. In addition to ensuring data quality at a ground level, Information Builders’ platform is also designed to be highly scalable. “It’s kind of our secret sauce,” says Corcoran. “People who can scale analytics tend to enjoy much greater growth. Companies that use analytics in data more effectively are faster growing companies. Their stock performs better, their employees perform better. As well as the longevity of customers.”

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With regard to employee performance and the more effective leveraging of data, Corcoran wants to see a change in the way companies grant access to their analytics. “How do you scale adoption throughout the organization to find the value?” Corcoran has found that, for the most part, data passes from analysts to management’s dashboards without being exposed to anyone lower in the organization. “Analysts ask the hard questions and they publish the results typically in the form of dashboard back to management. Management needs their dashboards. This process represents about 90% of all the effort and investment in the world of analytics right now. However, it’s not the most valuable thing we could be doing,” Corcoran explains. “It’s an interesting conversation I often have with CEOs to make them understand that they are not necessarily the most valuable person in this process. They need good information and insight to steer the ship, but management need information to set policy and to create goals. Those policies typically take about 12 to 24 months before they start to impact the bottom line of a large organization. There are things you can do lower in the organization that have a more immediate impact on the bottom line.”

For Information Builders, BI should be pervasive both within and without the company. “What we like to do is expand the conversation beyond what everyone is doing and bring it down lower into your organization. Pervasiveness is about bringing analytics insight to every employee, out to every business partner and even using it to create a different digital relationship with your customer.” Corcoran believes that, in 2019, companies owe their customers “some form of digital transformation – it's not just internal,it’s how you interact externally.” As a 2mn mile lifetime member at American Airlines, Corcoran points to the company’s end of year summary as an example of expanding analytics to the customer. “At the end of the year they sent me an infographic that told me my story. I flew 98,000 miles and my most common destination was Frankfurt, Germany, which I didn’t realize. It's pretty cool when you’re told something that you didn't know about your own life. It was really compelling. Then, take that to the next level and I think it’s really a clever way to get people to another level of, not only user adoption, but customer loyalty.”

In addition to changing the way that companies deploy their data and analytics, with the appointment of its new CEO, Frank Vella, Information Builders is going through a bold new transformation. “I believe we could be a really top brand name and lead the market,” says Corcoran. Since joining the company in November 2017, Vella has led the digital transformation of several areas of the business, including product, innovation, marketing, sales and channels. He also oversaw the launch of WebFOCUS, the company’s flagship analytics platform. “We have the biggest deployments in the world but nobody knows it because the company has been privately held,” says Corcoran. “Well, now we’re a Goldman Sachs-backed company. We've got a brand-new leadership management team hand-picked from the industry. We’re going to grow more aggressively, but I think what’s more exciting is that we’re going to be a leader in the innovation of new technologies. We’ve always had some of the smartest people and we’re still introducing more, and for me that’s really exciting. I want to see the company double or triple in size and I believe that now it can.”