SQL Power Wabit BI tool comes to enterprise users

A Toronto-based business intelligence (BI) software vendor is giving the frontline worker a tool they can actually use with the newly released enterprise edition of Wabit, which follows the March release of the client version.

A Toronto-based business intelligence (BI) software vendor is giving the frontline worker a tool they can actually use with the newly released enterprise edition of Wabit, which follows the March release of the client version.

Chosen for its catchiness, the acronym 'Wabit' doesn't actually stand for anything except the latter 'bit' for 'business intelligence tool,' said Sam Selim, president of SQL Power Group Inc.

Users are free to "fill in the blanks for 'wa' at will, said Selim. But, he admitted the loose connection to Elmer Fudd's Wabbit wasn't completely lost on the company.

Selim said the intention all along among vendors was to have BI software become tools for everyday workers, but the sheer complexity of BI tools tends to hinder adoption, said Selim.

Most of the successful tools on the market are multi-module, with each module performing a different function like dashboards, OLAP, ad hoc query, said Selim. "The user would have to learn multiple tools, and these tools are very feature-rich at the expense of ease of use," he said.

User-friendliness pays the price when features are hidden away so they don't clutter the limited space on the screen, said Selim.

Wabit Enterprise Edition has a single framework with drag-and-drop functionality for different elements like ad hoc and standard reporting, dashboarding.

Dan Fraser, director of software development with Toronto-based digital advertising vendor Onestop Media Group Inc., is using the client version of Wabit and is considering evaluating the enterprise edition for possible deployment across multiple users.

Currently, Fraser runs reports on datasets for customers, client locations, access controls and the like. If deployed, the enterprise edition, he said, would initially give users the ability to consume reports in a self-service manner. Eventually, users might transition to running queries themselves, said Fraser. "They'll have a better idea of what questions to ask and a better idea of what's available," he said.

Onestop Media, which designed the video screens for the Toronto Transit Commission, has typically developed custom query tools in the company intranet to make data more digestible for users. But Fraser said the enterprise edition of Wabit would take away that custom development time.

Selim said it's very possible to have a BI tool that's usable for all skill sets in an enterprise, business analytic users and frontline workers. Users need only use as much of the tool's functionality as is required by their job, he said. It's not unlike Microsoft Excel, he noted, where most people successfully use the software yet are only using a mere 10 per cent of the overall functionality.

It's very possible, said Selim, to have a BI tool that's usable for all skill sets in an enterprise, whether it's business analytic users or frontline workers. Users need only utilize as much of the tool's functionality as is required by their job, he said. Actually, it's not unlike Microsoft Excel, he noted, where most people successfully use the software yet are only using a mere 10 per cent of the overall functionality.

According to Nigel Wallis, research director with Toronto-based IDC Canada Ltd., the BI tool's user interface was an impediment to the adoption of analytics in the past, in addition to other factors like pricing, licensing and data quality.

But in the past several years, major BI vendors like Microsoft Corp., SAP AG, Cognos and Hyperion have invested "tremendous amounts" in improving the end user experience, said Wallis.

As for Wabit, Wallis thinks there is a market for the user friendly software, at least for the moment. "There are lots of legacy environments for this vendor to target, but I would suggest that this particular differentiation won't last," he said.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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Kathleen Lau

ComputerWorld Canada

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