Tuesday, September 02, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different - Business Intelligence Widgets

Your boss (or client) wants to see what kind of results you've been getting from that latest search marketing program. Want a cooler, easier way to show them the data? This may be your answer.

There are widgets (seemingly everywhere) and there are business intelligence tools, but web-based BI tools vendor LogiXML recently introduced the first BI widget, Widgenie.

LogiXML is one of new generation BI tools vendors, along with QlikTech and Jaspersoft, that are taking a fresh technology approach causing huge headaches for traditional vendors in this space like Business Objects, Information Builders and Oracle.

Widgenie is a free widget-building tool (a fee-based, secure, corporate version is planned) that enables non-technical users to easily upload some data, build a Widgenie widget, and share it anywhere on the web. According to Bill Kotraba, Director of Sales and Marketing at LogiOnDemand, Widgenie currently works with Excel or .CSV files; support for Google Spreadsheets is next, with future versions compatible with QuickBooks Online, Salesforce.com and other data sources as users dictate. Examples of Widgenie in use include South Bay Sports and the Proof of Concept blog.

Legacy vendors have traditionally focused on creating printed reports; Widgenie makes BI much more portable, across the web, email, mobile devices, etc. It is, in that sense, the future of BI.

It's also the future in the sense that the current beta version, while slick, has some bugs that need working out, for example, date-handling. Here's a small Excel file I created to test the tool. I wanted the months to show exactly as I had typed them, so I set the first column to be a text data type.

When I uploaded the file to Widgenie, it changed the date format, even though it recognized column one as text.

Finally, in the actual widget produced (which was very easy by the way; other than messing around trying to get the month field to appear properly, this whole process took just a few minutes), the dates took on a third, unexpected and less than ideal appearance.



There you have it. Other than the date field problem, I have now have a cool widget that shows this client (this is actual client SEO data BTW) how organic search visits to their site have increased since the end of last year.

Once the kinks are worked out, Widgenie will give non-technical users a much more interesting way to display and share business intelligence data.

UPDATE

Scott from Widgenie responded quickly to my technical difficulties and sent me a fix. Still not perfect, but much better:



*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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