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Alternative to using Spreadsheets for Small Businesses

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Many organisations continue to rely on Excel spreadsheets and other manual reporting processes for their mission-critical information needs, to their detriment.

Business Intelligence (BI) encompasses information such as weekly sales reports, browser-based queries to track investments or dashboards that show how the business is performing. BI leverages this information to help users work smarter and gain a competitive advantage.


Many enterprise-oriented BI software vendors have a limited view of what makes different types of companies work. Smaller businesses are simply treated like scaled-down versions of enterprise organisations. These vendors take their successful enterprise BI products and simply lower the price, simplify the installation, limit access and expect the product to be a success.

The offerings typically require users to learn several different tools and interfaces to produce different levels of BI content. In some cases, a background in object-oriented programming is required. It is also common for these tools to be marketed with the understanding that the customer must dedicate a developer to learn the tool, or invest in a consultant to help deliver the required BI content.

Business users must ask basic questions about their organisational data. Where does it reside, in Microsoft Excel, in an SQL database or somewhere else. It can even reside in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool such as JD Edwards, and often it is not possible to access the data sources for usable business information.

The other question is whether the BI solution is delivering the correct information, at the right time and in the right format. Businesses frequently need to access data from more than one application or source, but can no longer depend on the embedded BI capabilities in a single application. They need more control over the information accessed from their back-end systems.

In line with meeting smaller business needs, Information Builders has released WebFOCUS Express, an easy-to-install and use business intelligence solution supported by InfoBuild. Reports can be generated within a day and distributed on a scheduled or real-time manner to users via e-mail or mobile devices, keeping ROI high and cost of ownership low.

The correct usage of BI software will increase employee productivity, attract and retain customers and improve competitive positioning. WebFOCUS Express allows organisations to use information more effectively to make informed and competitive decisions about their business, customers, employees, partners and competitors.

With WebFOCUS Express, there is no client software to install or maintain. It is a 100 percent web-based solution which is installed on an Intel server running Windows, offering an economical infrastructure. It also offers an intuitive development environment, complete with graphical wizards and other end-user tools, which eliminates long, complex, and expensive development cycles. Companies can now quickly and easily design, build and deploy sophisticated, comprehensive reporting environments and operational systems.

Unlike many other BI tools, WebFOCUS Express requires little or no training. Its web-based environment provides a single, convenient point of access for all reporting and analysis.  The wizard-style interfaces simplify all phases of the data-definition and reporting process, enabling business users and other information consumers to become productive almost immediately. User-friendly development tools eliminate the need for SQL coding or object oriented expertise – so reporting applications can be quickly and easily built and implemented.

In addition, WebFOCUS Express customers receive free support and online training for the first year. They can also leverage the skilled and knowledgeable consulting teams of Information Builders and its partners to aid in the development and implementation of interactive reporting applications.

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