Cloud

Data Driven Summit – Customers Rave Over Embedded Analytics [Video]

Once in a while a term comes along that encapsulates the spirit of technology so well that it is broadly adopted by business leaders and analysts. Some examples that come to mind include the Cloud (to describe the broader Internet), eCommerce (to describe online business), Big Data (to describe volume, variety and velocity of information) and app (to describe a software application, typically for a mobile device). Recently, the term embedded analytics has resonated with people and organizations that track the next big thing. In a recent article on AllThingsD, Gene Frantz, Principal Fellow at Texas Instruments, gave credibility to the term, noting that “embedded analytics involves gathering data from sensors, processing it in real time, using algorithms to make conclusions and then initiating action.” We at Actuate knew early on that business intelligence was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to extracting value from business data. The real value lay in the ability to embed analytics in other applications and their business processes. As the data science industry grew over the last 30 years, the platforms and measurement tools to derive context from information shifted. Business leaders today constantly scream out for data to be ubiquitous in any location and on any device. And because Actuate has tracked this trend for years, our products were ready when the concept of embedded analytics became mainstream. Actuate was ranked as the No. 1 vendor in the “Dresner 2014 Embedded Business Intelligence Study.” The study is the latest in Dresner’s “Wisdom of Crowds” series of market insights. (Feel free to browse through the study results yourself) During Data Driven Summit 2014 – Actuate’s annual series of customer events – we heard about the importance of Embedded Analytics from our customers and industry analysts in seven different global centers. Here’s what customers said about embedded analytics at the Data Driven Summit in Santa Clara, Calif. and New York, NY. We’ll be posting more of the Data Driven Summit 2014 video series here, including the other demonstrations, BIRT data visualization insights and panel discussions with industry insiders.

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Top 10 News Stories from Actuate for 2014

This has been a huge year at Actuate. Between new products, acquisitions, and growth in our community, we’ve been busy providing great software across all of our divisions that help our customers meet their challenges in novel ways. Today, as 2014 winds down,  we’re highlighting ten of our biggest news stories of the year.     January 21: Actuate Patents PDF Accessibility Solution for Automated Tagging and Delivery of High Volume Content to the Visually Impaired. We were proud to kick off the year by receiving U.S. Patent 8619272, called “Automated Assistive Technology for the Visually Impaired,” for our PDF Accessibility Solution. This software integrates with an organization’s existing document management system to capture high volume print streams and automatically create properly tagged, accessible documents. February 5: Actuate Acquires legodo ag to Expand its Accessible Customer Communications Management Solution. The company develops software for generation of personalized customer correspondence via any communication channel, including mobile devices, and its software allows organizations to tap into their existing ERP, CRM, and other applications when creating customer communications. February 6: Actuate Launches New Generation of BIRT Content Services to Streamline End-to-End Accessible Customer Communications Management. Called BIRT Content Services 5.0, this new version of Actuate’s CCM product is now integrated with the BIRT iHub 3 deployment platform to enable end-to-end management of high volume customer communications. April 9: Actuate Introduces Document Accessibility Appliance to Automate Remediation of High Volumes of e-Delivered Customer Communications for Access by Vision-Impaired Customers. This virtual software appliance converts high volumes of electronically delivered documents into universally accessible PDF files (PDF/UA). Complying with WCAG 2.0 standards, the appliance helps organizations format and tag statements, bills, invoices, explanation of benefits and policy documents. May 7: BIRT Gains 500,000 New Developer Customers in Six Months; Community Grows to More than 3.5 Million BIRT Developers Worldwide. A quarterly survey by an independent, global developer research firm found that the community of BIRT developers keeps growing. “[T]he growth in the number of developers following Actuate is clearly reflected in the surge in our social media engagement levels,” said Nobby Akiha, Actuate’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. “Actuate’s BIRT social media profile continues to grow organically, with new followers on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, indicating a vibrant and active BIRT community. We have also observed a 50% increase in the number of visitors to our new developer.actuate.com site since its introduction last fall.” July 10:Actuate Launches BIRT iHub F-Type – Free Server for Over 3.5 Million BIRT Developers Building Data-driven Reports, Visualizations and Applications. A freemium version of our enterprise deployment platform, BIRT iHub F-Type has metered output capacity that can be expanded with an in-app purchase. Within 15 minutes of downloading BIRT iHub F-Type, a developer can import a BIRT report, schedule secure distribution, and export their report as a full-function Excel spreadsheet. Interactive personalization capabilities are automatically enabled, and developers can use BIRT iHub F-Type to embed dynamic reports and visualizations in applications. July 21: Actuate Announces BIRT Analytics 4.4 for Even Easier and Faster Big Data Advanced Analytics for Business Professionals. Our upgraded big data analytics platform for business analysts and users got powerful new algorithms and functionalities. “BIRT Analytics allows the business professional a way to easily explore and pivot billions of rows of data in seconds, while gaining immediate insights though visual representations of statistical models and advanced analytic techniques,” said Peter Hoopes, General Manager of Actuate’s BIRT Analytics Group. August 11: BIRT PowerDocs from Actuate is Now Available for the Salesforce1 Mobile App – Empowering Companies to Run their Businesses from Their Phones. Available in 10+ languages, BIRT PowerDocs is a cloud-based app designed to automatically incorporate ERP and CRM data and simplify generation of customer sales quotations and other correspondence within Salesforce1. It’s available for test drive and deployment on the Salesforce AppExchange. October 21: Actuate, Braille Works and Venatôre Collaborate to Deliver Industry’s First Cloud-Based Document Accessibility Service. Through key partnerships we expanded our offerings for the visually impaired community and for organizations that must comply with regulations such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. “Equal access to information is a basic right that every government agency must afford to individuals with vision loss,” said Paul Schroeder, vice president of Programs and Policy for the American Foundation for the Blind. “The Cloud508 service makes it possible to generate information in accessible formats to meet the access needs of people who are blind or visually impaired.” December 5: Actuate Signs Agreement to be Acquired by OpenText. The next chapter in Actuate’s story should begin within a few weeks. From the press release: “The addition of Actuate enables OpenText to enhance their products with embedded analytics as well as enter a growing market. Together Actuate and OpenText will seek to extend the benefits of embedded analytics to more geographies and industries.” We had to make some tough choices to whittle this list down to just ten entries. While we haven’t noted them all here, we’re also proud of our increasing profile among analysts and experts including Conformit, Dresner Advisory Services and Forrester; our growing profile in developer, open source, and social media communities; and our satisfied customers and partners like Phototype, IDS, and New York City Transit Authority who step up share their success stories. And we’re very proud of our Data Driven Summits, so we’re sharing videos of many great demos and panel discussions on the Actuate blog. With all of this in mind, 2015 promises to be another banner year for Actuate. We’re glad to have you – our customers, partners and prospects – with us during this exciting time. Subscribe to our blog (at left) and you’ll be the first to know when the next big things happen. Calendar image by Dafne Cholet.   

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Fax to the rescue – again!

Most of us can’t imagine a business day without email. It’s the lifeline of most communication both inside and outside an organization. But what happens when you can’t use your email? That’s what Sony employees and executives are faced with right now, in light of the recent hack to their network and email system. It seems that Sony employees have taken to picking up the phone, handwritten notes and, you guess it – fax, as a way to communicate with one another. Old school, you say? Old reliable, we say. Among those alternatives, fax is the only form of communication that is reliable and completely secure. Since a fax is a secure point-to-point communication between two parties, it can’t be intercepted or hacked. A phone call can be overheard, a handwritten note stolen. An electronic fax can go from one party to the other, safely and securely. The next time you need to communicate something that you don’t want to see in a headline, we suggest you FAX it. See the story here: http://uk.businessinsider.com/sony-execs-use-fax-machines-after-hack-wiped-out-email-2014-12

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Accessibility and Government-Produced PDFs

First published on G3ict.org Government agencies are huge creators of high-volume personal communications. Tax documents, benefits and health statements, and other critical information is distributed everyday – and the U.S. federal government aims to deliver more and more of these digitally, cutting costs and making them easier for citizens to obtain. Yet, to reach all citizens, they need to ensure these digital documents are accessible to everyone – including the visually impaired. Through the accessibility conferences and events I’ve attended – including Freedom Scientific’s recent Annual Accessibility Showcase – I’ve had a chance to speak to many government audiences. They’re wrestling with how to best create equal access in the digital documents they distribute – as well as meet compliance with their own Section 508 accessibility standards – which is why I wanted to address the issue here. Government accessibility, after all, is about to become even more important, as the U.S. federal government initiates its ICT Refresh – an update of the Section 508 Standards and Guidelines, issued under the amended Rehabilitation Act. What will the changes to Section 508 cover? Section 508 standards mandate federal government agencies on how they procure, use, develop or maintain information and electronic technology – and aims to make this information accessible to people with disabilities. The update is expected to tighten accessibility regulations further, bringing them up to standards outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. It’s also expected to include a full scope of communications not currently specified including: Public-facing content Content that is broadly disseminated within the agency Letters adjudicating any cause within the jurisdiction of the agency Internal and external program and policy announcements Notices of benefits, forms, questionnaires and surveys Emergency notifications Formal acknowledgements Educational and training materials What is expected to be exempt from covered content would include: Archival copies stored or retained solely for archival purposes to preserve an exact image of a hard copy Draft versions of documents Although Section 508 is a mandate for federal government, it has had a trickle-down effect into the private sector as well. That is solely due to the procurement regulations. With federal government constituting the largest consumer of electronic and information technology, those supplying that technology must make their products, including their documents and documentation, meet Section 508 standards in order to sell it to government. So, the new refresh will apply equally to government agencies, and to companies in all industries and of all sizes that supply to them. How can government meet these needs? In my opinion, meeting the need for accessible digital content means two things: creating the right types of documents, and finding the most cost-saving and least invasive way to build accessibility in. With that in mind, consider two things: 1. Many of these government communication documents – from tax notices to health and benefits statements – need to be offered in a digital format that’s accessible as well as portable and secure, in order to be archived for official purposes. While HTML has become a popular way of providing many types of documentation, and has its uses in government as well, it doesn’t meet these criteria. PDFs do. 2. High-volume, personalized communications such as the ones government agencies produce aren’t created by individuals. They’re created by applications that can handle those large volumes. Individually building in accessibility manually after the fact can be expensive and time-consuming – often with extended delivery times versus the instant access through secure web portals afforded to those who don’t require an accessible digital format. The right technology, though, can help get around these challenges. And it’s why Actuate introduced Cloud508 for federal government. Cloud508 To meet the needs of government, Actuate recently announced Cloud508 – a collaborative partnership between Actuate, Braille Works and Venatôre – which was specifically designed to meet the stringent security requirements of federal government. Cloud508 automates the generation and remediation of accessible PDF documents on demand and meets Section 508 requirements and WCAG 2.0 standards for accessibility. What’s more, Cloud508, powered with Actuate technology, allows for the automation of traditional formats like Braille, large print and audio, all while reducing costs and significantly speeding up delivery time. Highlights include: Automates generation/remediation of accessible PDF documents Cloud-based service First and only on the market, patented technology Secure – meets federal government’s stringent security requirements Real time conversion service Designed for high volume personalized communications such as tax, health, and benefits notices Section 508, WCAG 2.0 Level AA, PDF/UA compliant formats Automates and streamlines production of Braille, large print and audio formats I think it’s the answer a lot of government agencies are looking for as they search for ways to save time, resources, money, and comply with Section 508, all while providing a comparable experience to the blind and visually impaired. For more information on Cloud508, visit www.cloud508.com.

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Sneak Peek: BIRT PowerDocs Salesforce1 Mobile App

We want to give you an insight into the latest developments of our BIRT PowerDocs cloud software. Today we will introduce you to the new BIRT PowerDocs Salesforce1 Mobile app, which we presented for the first time at the Dreamforce 2014. Take a first look at our app, which you can use to create complex, interactive and process-integrated documents with Salesforce1 and BIRT PowerDocs. How you benefit: you will be able to use all of the features of BIRT PowerDocs on your smartphone! Complex Documents – Just One Click Away Our new Salesforce1 Mobile app lets you create complex documents with just a few clicks. With this new app you can generate all of the documents that you previously needed your PC for. Regardless of whether the documents are interactive, process-integrated or highly complex, all of the features offered by BIRT PowerDocs are supported. BIRT PowerDocs works on all devices and can be integrated into any process. Our well-known interview mode automatically adjusts to your device settings and delivers the full power of professional document generation to your smartphone. This also includes the combination of the user interaction and data retrieval from various data sources. Applications of the BIRT PowerDocs Salesforce1 Mobile App You can easily use the BIRT PowerDocs Salesforce1 Mobile App to create highly complex and yet personalized documents even while you are on the go, without having to manually intervene in the creation process. The interview mode enables to easily implement complex decision-making structures. Of course, the mobile app offers you the additional benefit: it is fully integrated into Salesforce1 and can access all required data. Here is an overview of the highlights: Mobile application is possible Same range of functions – regardless of the user’s device Professional and individual document creation – without manual intervention Interview mode enables complex decision-making structures – with ease Presentation of the app at the Dreamforce 2014 We received a lot of feedback during the presentation of our new BIRT PowerDocs Salesforce1 Mobile App at Dreamforce. Many visitors were amazed at how easy it is to create complex documents on a smartphone with just a few clicks. View this short video to see how easy it is to create documents with BIRT PowerDocs.

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DEEP Access: Highlights from “Designing Enabling Economies and Policies”

In October, I took part in two separate and very different events dedicated to accessibility. Each had its highlights and in a later blog post I’ll tell you what those were for the second of the two: Freedom Scientific’s Annual Accessibility Showcase. I want to dedicate this post to the first, though – DEEP 2014: Designing Enabling Economies and Policies. The two-day event took place from October 16 to 17 at OCAD University in downtown Toronto, and was sponsored by Actuate, alongside IBM and the Government of Ontario. It focused on accessibility in both government and education environments, looked at new innovations, and discussed inclusiveness from a variety of perspectives. As part of the program, I moderated a session on the Role of Data and Alternative Representations of Data, which also included Chris MacMillan from Information Mapping Canada illustrating how volumes of data can be more accessible and digestible by redesigning its visual display and layout, and Dr. Peter Coppin of OCAD U who highlighted the advancements, led by his efforts, made on representing data with sound. I did a segment focused on data-driven personalized PDF communications like financial, health and benefits statements and notices, and showcased how Actuate’s technology uses automation to dramatically speed up the generation of high volumes of accessible PDF documents. The Program DEEP had a range of other panels and presentations too, ranging from “What Does Ontario Need to Do to Get Back on Schedule for Full Accessibility by 2025?” led by David Lepofsky, Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, to “Building Capacity in Education: A discussion of new programs in inclusion and new approaches to inclusive content and credentials” and “Creating Inclusive Communities Through Public Engagement.” There were also small group sessions dedicated to policy, education, innovation, entertainment, etc. One of the biggest highlights for me, though, was the keynote address by Gregg Vanderheiden, a professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-director of Raising the Roof – International and the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure Project (GPII). GPII is the specific program I want to discuss here, though. In fact, I was so interested in their advancements, that I immediately emailed Gregg to see how I could get more involved in GPII, and was graciously invited to be the “watchdog” for accessibility of their web and documents! GPII and a New Way of Creating Inclusive Content GPII, basically, aims to make the Internet accessible to everyone, whether they’re disabled, illiterate, digitally illiterate or aging. The group behind it works with existing technologies to help make them easier to use for individuals who might experience these inherent accessibility barriers. Gregg used the case of a digitally illiterate grandmother to demonstrate. Even if her grandkids tried to explain to her how to send or receive an email, she wouldn’t understand because she doesn’t see the world the same way they do. But what if the screen popped up and instead of a traditional email scenario, it looked like a letter waiting to be written? What if all she had to do was click on that “piece of paper” to write, then press on a mailbox icon to send it, just as she might a physical letter? What if a virtual mail truck then came and picked it up, to bring it to the recipient? This type of interface would be more intuitive to her, because it’s based on what she knows. And this is the type of solution GPII is looking to offer, with different alternatives for the visually impaired and other accessibility issues. It would all be available on the cloud, compatible with existing technology. For me, that presentation was an eye-opener and one of the best moments at DEEP. And I was pretty thrilled to hear back from Gregg to find out I might be able to get involved with the project myself. For more information on DEEP, visit deep.idrc.ocadu.ca/agenda/, and to learn more about GPII, visit gpii.net.

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Transport 15 Million People? Fugged about it! New York City Transit Authority

They say if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. So when New York City Transit Authority (NYCT) officials needed a technology platform to help them visualize North America’s largest transportation network, they of course selected iHub. Challenged with moving 15 million people throughout a 5,000-square-mile area, NYCT’s Operations Planning department needed a new comprehensive way to track train movements along 24 subway lines and 224 bus routes. The data would then be broadcast instantly to its employees. The Transit Authority has collected data over the decades about its overall transit system performance. The data is used to provide answers to the public and other municipal divisions as well as benchmarks to improve services and operations overall. Coordinating the data between different transit systems seemed to be a perfect Internet of Things mashup. Subway location and other data are monitored using NYCT’s General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). As many as 5,000 buses are monitored every 30 seconds, 24 hours a day using standard GPS tracking. The information is stored using open source database MongoDB and integrated with a Google Maps interface for commuters. The Operations Planning department also gathers diagnostic and event data from its Intelligent Vehicle Network sensors, which transmit data anytime something of note happens on a bus, such as movement of doors or if a wheelchair ramp is deployed. In total, tens of thousands of records per minute – or millions of rows of data per day – must be recorded,  distilled into usable and helpful information, and shared. “NYCT is committed to an open data environment,” says Anthony Cramer, Director of System Data Analysis with NYCT’s Operations Planning department. “That begins with making as much data possible available to our customers, from countdown clocks at subway stations to real-time arrival apps, all powered by an open, cloud-based system.” Actuate came in with an embedded analytics reporting platform that coordinates with NYCT’s automated data collection system. NYCT plans to use BIRT iHub to share aspects of its internal information with the public among the various available mobile applications. There are 78 apps for iOS and 45 for Android currently sanctioned by the Transit Authority.  

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Actuate Tops Dresner Embedded BI Report, a Critical Tool for Data-Hungry Execs

A little horn-tooting first: Actuate was ranked as the No. 1 vendor in the “Dresner 2014 Embedded Business Intelligence Study.” The study is the latest in Dresner’s “Wisdom of Crowds” series of market insights. These reports comprise the only comprehensive research on BI usage and trends from the viewpoint of the customers, and virtually all BI vendors are ranked. It’s a really big deal for us to be recognized by the input of companies like yours in this kind of report. Our competition included all of the traditional and emerging business intelligence software providers. We left them all in the dust. Actuate was the only ranked vendor who met 100 percent of the Embedded BI architecture requirements, including rarely provided desktop widgets, Google Gadgets and Python API. Actuate was also ranked as providing superior custom, white-label branding for companies such as banks and telecoms who provide their customers with data driven analytics apps. Now we’ll put the promo banner down for a bit to bring you the other big news from the Embedded BI report: You and your manager are extremely likely to have embedded BI on the list of most critical software tools for your organization in the next year… so its’s best to be prepared!, Howard Dresner, Chief Research Officer at Dresner Advisory Services advises. “Across all relevant technologies, embedded BI technology falls into the top third of initiatives considered strategic to business intelligence,” the report states. “This reflects awareness and openness toward embedded technologies and an expectation that they will support more pervasive uses of BI.” The survey combines the ratings of roughly 2,500 organizations including crowdsourcing and the BI software vendor community. Dresner added the Embedded BI Report to his industry reporting to better understand how organizations are using embedded BI within data-driven apps they are creating for internal and external customers. The Value of Embedded BI It’s impressive to think that embedded BI ranks ahead of other enterprise concerns, including mobile device support, data mining and advanced algorithms, and software as a service and/or cloud computing. But why Embedded BI? What’s it good for? Typically, embedding business intelligence allows development teams to provide personalized analytics in their data driven apps. These apps let users get the maximum benefit of their data mining, ad hoc queries, dashboards and performance monitoring. Companies using financial management, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and marketing automation tend to use embedded BI in their own apps. But the specific applications targeted for embedded BI vary by industry, according to the Dresner report. Manufacturing businesses favor transactional and planning platforms, whereas retail and wholesale businesses favor embedded BI support for Web portals and workforce management. Technology companies are likely to use embedded BI to help them improve marketing and call centers. The emphasis on embedded BI could not come at a better time for the vendor community, says Dresner. This year, organizations see a broad span of targets for embedded BI that cover the full range of traditional back-office transaction systems all the way to operational and customer-facing Web applications. “Like the user sample, industry respondents have a strong view of the importance of embedded BI in 2014,” Dresner said in the report. “There is good industry support for integration resources and preferred BI features. Industry support for core embedded technologies has been increasing and in many cases is nearing 100 percent.” Other Points Of Interest There are a couple of standouts in the Dresner report that bear exploration. First off, very small companies (between 1 to 100 employees) and very large companies (more than 5,000 employees) were the most enthusiastic toward a range of embedded BI approaches. HTML, iframes, Web services, and JavaScript are the most popular mechanisms for embedded BI. Custom branding and white-label solutions are also in high demand. Vendors consider sales the most important area of focus for embedded BI, followed by marketing automation and, curiously, workforce management, which may be a function of short-term staffing. Among larger organizations, the number-one application is Web portals. Companies centered in Latin America, EMEA and Asia Pacific were most likely to identify embedded BI as a critical function of their business, although even in North America, it’s still considered a positive investment.   As more companies provide services for customers and end users, embedded BI will continue to take a lead role in shaping those data driven conversations.        

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Cloud508: A Cloud Solution for Federal Government that Automates Document Accessibility

A unique collaboration designed to build accessibility into the U.S. federal government’s most important and most distributed documents, Cloud508 is Actuate Corporation’s newest endeavor. A joint project with partners Braille Works and Venatôre, the cloud-based service works with documents such as tax, health, and benefits notices, statements and other personalized communications, automatically converting them on demand into accessible, Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliant PDF format. Cloud508 is not only unique, but is the first of its kind on the market. It is no secret that federal government produces and distributes enormous amounts of personalized notices to tax payers and beneficiaries, creating a significant challenge in meeting mandated Section 508 compliance allowing the documents to be accessible and usable by the blind and visually impaired recipients agencies serve. This service has been designed to eliminate the costly and laborious manual remediation efforts typically required to produce compliant accessible electronic documents. Until now, to make a PDF document accessible, human operators would use special software and manually remediate each and every page of a personalized notice. Not only is it costly and labor intensive, but with the sheer volume of documents it also slows the delivery time to the recipient. Now with Cloud508, each personalized document can be automatically remediated, on-demand, on the fly, nearly instantly! When these documents are electronically delivered via the web, blind and visually impaired recipients can receive their notices and statements at the same time as sighted recipients. The documents generated by this automation service are output as PDF/UA format meeting WCAG 2.0 Level AA and Section 508 accessibility standards. The Cloud508 Collaboration Partners To create this cloud-based accessibility solution, Actuate collaborated with two commercial and federal government experienced partners: Braille Works International is a Section 508 and accessibility expert and leading provider of reading materials for the visually impaired serving the federal government. Venatôre provides data center and cloud engineering services delivering mission critical solutions to federal government customers. Each has entered the partnership with their own area of expertise; Braille Works providing its subject-matter experience to ensure the documents meet accessibility and usability standards, and Venatôre bringing its secure cloud infrastructure required by government agencies. Actuate is contributing its patented document remediation software, designed to convert high volumes of personalized statements, notices and other communication documents into accessible PDFs. We are excited to bring this unique service to market, and Hunter Trice, President/ CEO of Venatôre, expressed it perfectly: “What excites us about this service is that it takes an innovative approach to addressing federally mandated accessibility requirements. The Cloud508 offering changes the rules by taking the industry from a mostly manual, time intensive remediation process to a largely automated, workflow-driven SaaS model. Cloud technology is enabling innovation in customer segments that have been traditionally underserved. Specifically, Actuate’s Cloud508 service makes it much easier for government agencies to deliver the same level of service, utility and convenience to the visually impaired. It makes providing accessible content a part of the standard operating procedure instead of something delivered as an exception or accommodation.” The Details Cloud508 is highly scalable and reliable, with accessible output that has been tested and approved by The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). Not only that, but its cloud infrastructure supports the U.S. federal government’s Cloud First Policy and its built-in security and encryption features meet strict government regulations. It delivers benefits to both the government agencies it services and the visually impaired individuals it is designed to help, including: Software-based automation for document remediation Secure and efficient delivery in the cloud Compliance support with U.S. accessibility legislation, including Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act WCAG 2.0 – Level AA and PDF/UA compliance for documents Equal access to government services for those with visual, cognitive, and print disabilities Along the collaborative partnership path an unexpected outcome was realized, and born from that was yet another unique and compelling advantage of Cloud508 – the automation of traditional print formats. With some clever programming and utilization of the rich accessible output, a streamlined and more efficient process for creating braille, large print, and audio formats was developed! This brings lower costs, and for those preferring these more traditional formats, an expedited delivery time – even with higher volumes. Lou Fioritto, Founder of Braille Works International, said: “The concept of an automated process for the creation of accessible documents was largely dismissed due to the complexity of the process. Cloud508 is a game-changer. It not only automates the creation of 508 compliant PDF documents, but in the process allows for the automation of a portion of the work to create traditional formats such as braille, large print and audio. With Cloud508, a Federal Agency can reduce the cost and time needed to deliver compliant documents to their visually impaired constituents.” A true wealth of knowledge, experience, services, and unique patented product have been combined to create Cloud508 as a full-service, flexible solution with unmatched accuracy in its performance, speed, and accessible output. Together this is a powerful combination!  

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iTAC Helps Manufacturers Improve Operations with BIRT iHub [Case Study]

We think we live in a digital world, but manufacturing still touches every aspect of our lives today. The cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the tools we use, and even the food we eat today is the product of an integrated global supply chain and complex manufacturing processes. But the digital world of IT and physical world of manufacturing are inextricably connected: Successful manufacturers leverage powerful IT to monitor and manage their machines, resources, logistics and more to improve quality, reduce costs, and deliver the right goods at the right time. For more than 15 years, Germany-based iTAC Software AG has helped companies merge the worlds of IT and manufacturing. iTAC (short for Internet Technologies and Consulting) produces highly specialized manufacturing software. Its Manufacturing Execution System (MES) suite is cloud-based, Java EE-powered application that enables IP-based monitoring and management of every aspect of a manufacturing environment – essentially turning factories and supply chains into a real-world workbench in the Internet of Things (IoT). Automotive, electronics, medical, and other discrete manufacturers worldwide use iTAC.MES.Suite to optimize product quality and increase production. iTAC maintains a diverse team of skilled developers who clearly know how to produce powerful, useful software. So when iTAC decided to integrate Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics capabilities into iTAC.MES.Suite, the company’s developers could have built these embedded analytics capabilities on their own, from scratch. But instead, they chose the iHub platform to provide embedded analytics in their application.  iTAC selected iHub for its flexibility, speed, and ability to integrate seamlessly into iTAC.MES.Suite. “With iHub, we can produce attractive, compelling visualizations in no time from application data,” said Dieter Meuser, iTAC’s CTO. “Just as quickly and easily, the iHub platform can be integrated in any IT architecture and takes on the branding and security model of the main application.” A new Actuate case study, available for free download, explores iTAC’s use of BIRT iHub. The case study explains why iTAC chose BIRT iHub for embedded analytics and details the benefits of Actuate’s software, including secure integration, enhanced reporting, and support for the Internet of Things (IoT) – a key element of Germany’s Industry 4.0 initiative for creating smart factories. Download and read the iTAC case study today.

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Simplifying the Conflict Minerals Reporting Process

Earlier this year many North American based companies were filing their conflict minerals reports for the first time. The Dodd-Frank Conflict Minerals Law was introduced to help understand the source of conflict minerals across global supply chains, primarily in the high tech, automotive and CPG manufacturing sectors. This is an area that I have blogged about before, click here & here, however this blog will provide an update on how this year’s reporting process went. I will also be covering this subject in more detail during one of my presentation sessions at our Enterprise World conference next month. This new law was introduced by the US Senate and applies to any North American based company filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC. Companies have to provide evidence that their supply chains are not using conflict minerals. Even though it was just North American based companies that had to report to the SEC, suppliers located in other countries would have to provide evidence to their respective customers in North America of where potential conflict minerals were sourced from. Conflict minerals, namely Tin, Tungsten, Tantalum and Gold (collectively known as the 3TG minerals) are mined all over the world however this new regulation specifically relates to the sourcing of 3TG minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Africa. Many mines in this region are owned by militia groups and the proceeds from the sale of 3TG minerals are used to fund their military operations. 3TG minerals are used in a range of every day products: The new law aims to check the source of these minerals before they enter the smelter process. In December 2010 the International Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) produced a document describing a five stage process which provides due diligence guidance for sourcing minerals from conflict affected and high risk areas around the world. Stage two of this framework specifically relates to the assessment and reporting process for identifying the source of conflict minerals. To assist with the reporting process, the Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) was established to help companies implement a process for assessing their supply chain and to find out where 3TG minerals were sourced from. CFSI devised a SEC approved reporting Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that companies could use for assessing their supply chains. All of the major industry analysts have produced reports offering their own analysis on the sourcing of conflict minerals, however Deloitte succinctly summarised the issues as follows, “The complexity of today’s supply chains combined with the lack of visibility into sourcing practices will be one of the key challenges of ensuring that Dodd-Frank can be adhered to”. So how did companies do during the first reporting period and what were the challenges that they faced during the assessment process? Initial estimates of the number of companies that would be impacted by this new ruling were 6000, however a study conducted by Ernst and Young in June 2014, just after the 2014 reporting process had been completed, showed that the actual number of companies that completed a standard disclosure form to the SEC was just over 1300 and of these just 1000 completed a conflict minerals report as they had reason to believe that 3TG minerals had been sourced from the DRC. The Ernst and Young report went on to say that: Average number of suppliers surveyed was 2500, but ranged from just 5 to over 40,000 suppliers 49% of respondents came from the technology, industrial and CPG sectors 43% of respondents showed sourcing of some portion of minerals from the DRC 52% of companies did not disclose supplier response rates, of those that did respond only 15% of companies had supplier response rate greater than 90% Only 27% were able to provide a list of smelters and refiners After reviewing some of the conflict minerals disclosures on the SEC website it became clear that many companies had struggled to engage with their entire supply chain and in fact there were some remarkably similar issues faced by reporting companies, namely: Ensuring that supplier contact information was up to date to allow reporting template to be sent to them Some companies received no response from their direct and sub-tier materials suppliers, partly due to the complexity of their respective supply chains Information provided by suppliers was often incomplete or inaccurate Suppliers had to be chased up for report submissions to meet SEC’s May 31st deadline Part of the problem related to acquiring information from suppliers is the reporting tool itself, even though it is relatively easy to complete, the main challenge is the distribution of the spreadsheet to a supplier community and then tracking all responses. If a company for example has more than ten thousand trading partners located all over the world then this problem becomes even more complex. OpenText™ Active Community is a cloud based community management platform that is used to manage day to day interactions with a supply chain community. Using a centrally managed archive of supplier contact information combined with comprehensive email management and reporting tools, Active Community can help remove the complexities of managing the distribution of information to a trading partner community. OpenText has re-created the CFSI reporting template within Active Community’s survey module. This means that companies can simply send an email to all their suppliers with a link to a reporting web form and all responses can be tracked and reported on. Using Active Community for the conflict minerals reporting process offers a number of key benefits: Provides an effective cloud based platform for distributing and tracking responses to conflict minerals based assessments Offers a simple and efficient reporting environment to encourage 100% participation from trading partners Ensures trading partner information is accurately maintained within a centralized environment Allows a company to meet an important corporate social responsibility objective and allow a conflict minerals report to be filed on time Even though the reporting process is only mandated by law in North America at the moment, other regions around the world are closely monitoring the US reporting process. The European Union passed a ruling earlier this year that it would allow companies located in member countries to self-certify their supply chains for conflict minerals. The EU ruling currently applies to importers of raw materials and does not include manufacturers and companies importing finished goods. The US and EU rules are intended to introduce more transparency into global supply chains, companies will therefore be ethically compelled to find out what is in their supply chains. Moving forwards it is expected that conflict minerals sourcing will become a core part of a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, which of course has board level support in most companies. OpenText has developed a number of resources to explain how we can help companies simplify their reporting process, these resources include an executive briefing document, a short webinar providing more details on the conflict minerals ruling and how Active Community can help and finally a twenty minute demonstration of the CFSI template within Active Community and how it can be used to quickly survey a supplier community. If you would like to see a short introductory video which introduces the conflict minerals ruling then please see the video below. To access our conflict minerals resources, please CLICK HERE. If you would like to learn more about our Conflict Minerals solution or any other solution that OpenText offers then why not register to attend our Enterprise World event in November? I will be presenting a number of manufacturing focused presentations at this event and you will be able to hear case study presentations from Panasonic and Michelin on how they are using B2B solutions from OpenText. Click on the link below for more information. The post Simplifying the Conflict Minerals Reporting Process appeared first on All About B2B.

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Do You Deliver Customer Branding?

Let’s set the stage: You have an application with plenty of relevant data and you have customers who want to get the most out of your data. Easier said than done: rapidly changing technology, big and small data, capacity to embed, autonomy of end-users, security, mobile, cloud or onsite deployments, software licensing agreements … all these topics will emerge at some point in time. Because I sell enterprise software licenses within a company nurturing the BIRT open source project, I run into “make or buy” decisions all the time. Don’t expect perfect neutrality from me when I blog here. Expect business-oriented views that help you make the right decisions. The first topic I would like to raise is branding. Nobody disagrees with the importance of branding. Showing a cool demo of your application to a C-level decision maker will definitely make a positive impact on a buying decision. A great out-of-box user experience creates stickiness and lets customers adhere to your brand – or even to the brand of your customers. And it is not just the graphs or images that make up the brand. It’s the user experience. Users expect good-looking graphs, but they may also want to interact and explore while maintaining the brand experience. The capacity to brand an application undoubtedly has a high value, but this value is very difficult to quantify. The impacts on the cost side are much easier to evaluate. Here are a few points you might consider: Do you have access to chart engines and can you easily customize charts via scripts or APIs? Is it possible to create reusable libraries with color themes or templates that you apply easily across your application? Is customization achieved by using commonly available standard-based tools such as HTML5, CSS and JavaScript? Consider that in two years’ time your largest customer rebrands itself and requests that you  change the branding within your application. Sit down and calculate the time and  effort it will take you to modify your application. Please feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions about branding  in the comments area.

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How do you Manage a B2B Environment Following Divestiture?

There has been one story dominating the media in the UK over the past few months, Scotland’s attempt to seek independence from the United Kingdom. Despite losing the referendum to go their own way, Scotland will gain extra powers from the UK government to help offer a better standard of living for their population and improve growth prospects for the country. The interesting thing here is what would have happened if Scotland had broken away from the UK. Everything from running the public services and utilities infrastructures, through to managing revenue generation initiatives such as setting tax levels through to the technology infrastructure to support the running of the country in an independent capacity. Not to mention the currency, border control and defence spending issues as well. Even though the independence vote was lost, there are synergies here with companies that are going through a similar situation, namely going through some form of divestiture from their parent organisation. There have been countless divestitures in recent years as companies look to cut costs and at the same time raise valuable funds to grow their business or diversify into new markets. The chart below from Deloitte highlights some of the reasons why companies divest operations. Whenever a company goes through a divestiture process, one of the most important things to ensure is that the business can continue operating with minimum disruption. This is not easy, especially when IT infrastructures have to be untangled between the two organisations. The divestiture process is incredibly complex and it will affect all areas of a business, including the external supply chain. Unravelling a B2B infrastructure from a parent company can appear at first to be a monumental task, not only having to establish the technical components of the new B2B infrastructure but also ensuring that external trading partners can be effectively managed during the transition process. For this reason many companies will establish transition teams to oversee all aspects of a divestiture process. At the end of the day the newly divested business must continue to make money from day one and so the role of the transition team, especially relating to managing the new B2B infrastructure is critical. Now there are a number of options open to the transition team with respect to the B2B infrastructure. Taking the right course of action or direction for the divested operation’s B2B strategy is a critical decision, if you go in the wrong direction it could restrict future growth opportunities for the business. So which path do you take? Firstly, a divested operation could continue to use their existing B2B platform which for many companies would probably be the easiest option for them to follow. However there are complexities with extracting the B2B platform from the parent company and then continuing to manage trading partner relationships etc. Secondly they could decide to introduce a brand new platform themselves or adopt the B2B platform from the new owner. Either of these options will mean severe disruption to the divested operation’s business processes and trading partner relationships. Finally they could decide to outsource the management of their entire B2B platform to a trusted partner. Following a divestiture, especially if the company is acquired by a private equity firm, the company will need to be focused on their core competencies. This will be manufacturing goods and bringing revenue into the business, not having to worry about how they manage their B2B infrastructure on an ongoing basis. Therefore out of the three possible options, outsourcing is the best possible route for managing a B2B infrastructure and any accompanying trading partner relationships. After all what does a private equity firm know about running a B2B infrastructure? This is where OpenText™ Managed Services can help. Whichever route the divested operation decides to take, they will have a relatively short period of time to transition to the new B2B platform. Typically, a parent company would give the divested operation anywhere between 6 to 18 months to become totally self-sufficient in how they manage their B2B infrastructure. Establishing a B2B infrastructure in a divested operation is intrinsically linked to the overall IT infrastructure that will also need to be established in the divested business. Networks and routers have to be setup, internet connections have to established, PC’s and Laptops have to be configured, email systems have to be setup for each user. In addition, ERP systems have to be rolled out, CRM systems have to be setup within the sales and marketing departments and IT systems have to be deployed in new warehouses and logistics facilities. Now I haven’t even discussed what needs to be done from a B2B perspective yet, but already you can see that the IT infrastructure alone, which will help to support the B2B platform, is incredibly complex. As for the B2B infrastructure, the divested operation will need to develop or possibly migrate document maps to the new platform, this could typically range from 100 to a 1000 maps. Not all of these maps would need to be created from scratch, in one example I have heard about recently, one third of the maps for a divested operation were brought across from the parent company, one third were transferred, but required a few customisations and the remainder needed to be created from scratch. Mapping is a complex and time consuming process, would your company be able to undertake this internally?, would your B2B team have the skills to do this or would those skills remain with the parent company? Another common area of concern is how to integrate to an ERP platform. A manufacturing company, especially one with manufacturing plants all over the world will have to somehow re-integrate its B2B platform to the ERP platform. The longer this process is delayed, the more chance there is for duplicate data being entered into purchasing systems, which then leads to a lot of manual rework and rekeying of data to ensure the view of the information in the ERP platform is similar to the view in the B2B environment. Being able to integrate these two platforms as quickly as possible, to ensure one seamless, real time view of information is essential. Again, would your company be able to undertake this integration activity yourself or would you have to seek help from an outside provider? The other area of importance from a B2B transition point of view is managing the external community of trading partners. During the transition phase, the company still needs to be able to order and take delivery of goods from suppliers, they will still need to get their manufactured goods distributed around the world and more importantly each trading partner will need to be kept up to date with what is happening during the transition to the new B2B environment at the divested operation. OpenText™ Managed Services has helped over 800 companies outsource the management of their B2B infrastructure. With many years’ experience of supporting some of the biggest companies in the world, OpenText is well positioned to help divested operations maintain continuity with their B2B platform and their trading partner community. There are five key areas where Managed Services has been deployed to help divested operations manage their B2B infrastructures. Document Mapping – This is by far the most popular outsourcing request that we have seen, potentially hundreds of document maps will need to be transferred to the divested operation. Companies could decide to move the maps as is, move and modify or write completely new maps. Either way, the divested operation is unlikely to have in-house skills to create their own maps. In fact mapping skills are likely to remain within in the parent company. OpenText has a dedicated mapping centre of excellence to create document maps of any type and skills to map to ERP systems or to any specific industry standards. ERP Integration – As with document mapping, a divested operation may lose access to valuable ERP implementation personnel following a divestiture. OpenText has been working with many companies to help integrate their B2B platform to ERP related business processes. This ensures that externally sourced information can flow seamlessly into the ERP system. OpenText™ Managed Services has been integrated with a range of different ERP platforms, including SAP where we have experience of creating a range of IDOC document types to support key business processes. Trading Partner Management – Trading partners will need to be managed during and after a divestiture has taken place. The newly divested operation will have to maintain these relationships so that supply chains are not interrupted and the supply of goods can continue as normal. OpenText offers, a number of trading partner management offerings, in local language around the world. This includes training the trading partners in how to use all aspects of a new B2B service, testing connectivity and document exchange capabilities and finally offering a number of performance dashboards so that the trading partner community can be effectively monitored. Global B2B Support – Loss of support from a parent organisation means that global B2B support services will have to be provided to maintain global trading capabilities. OpenText offers a truly global 24/7 ‘follow the sun’ support service. End users are able to speak with multi-lingual support representatives who will be fully trained in the specific capabilities of the divested operation’s business processes Technology / Legacy Platform Upgrade – Divestitures provide the ideal opportunity to upgrade or introduce new B2B technologies. In the past, the parent company may not have allowed certain technologies or processes to be introduced simply because they did not have the skills to implement or support them. OpenText supports both legacy and the latest internet communication protocols, thus ensuring that trading partners can be connected irrespective of which communication protocol they may prefer to use. OpenText also offers a number of web based B2B solutions that allow any trading partner, no matter what their technical capability, to trade electronically with the divested operation. For more information on how OpenText™ Managed Services can help your business please click here or alternatively take a look at the SlideShare presentation below. In a future blog I will discuss how companies are using periods of restructuring to undertake digital transformation projects.

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Generating Documents in the Cloud: 3 Reasons for BIRT PowerDocs

More and more businesses are using cloud-based software to manage their documents commonly needed for daily business. Such documents typically include quotes, invoices, service documents and contracts. The processes for generating documents in the cloud are usually handled manually or using native functionality of the cloud software. Basic functionality limits users and businesses Common documents vary from simple business letters to highly complex, multi-page documents. The more complex the document, the more frequently users experience limitations with native basic functionality of the cloud document generation solutions. Technically, the native mail merge functionality is quite limited – data from only one object can be referred to in parallel with common information about the contact. Publishing options are also limited: for example, documents can only be generated in Word format. In addition, these documents cannot be automatically combined with other Word documents and templates. Sending options often include only an option to download to the local computer. But the biggest problem with the native mail merge functionality is that it is not flexible enough to implement all customer requirements or customer processes. Scripting is (not) a solution Many cloud providers are aware of the technical limitations of generating documents in the cloud and therefore recommend the use of individual extensions. By developing such extensions, one can expand the basic functionality of the applications. This, however, calls for custom software development, a significant risk factor for the project success. Through scripting, certain objects (e.g. from the area of quote in offer management) can be synchronized with other objects (e.g. from the area of an opportunity). This feature is useful for many application cases and is especially well suited for proper administration and maintenance of selected products for a business transaction. In addition, in some cases editors can also be developed to enable template creation. Nevertheless, these extensions cannot compete with the flexibility and range of formatting options found in Microsoft Word or Excel. Therefore, it is usually impossible to add the existing documents of the customer to the cloud. Therefore, this leaves out of scope an important requirement of businesses switching their processes to the cloud. Upgrade through apps: BIRT PowerDocs Due to these limitations and deficiencies, we developed an application for document creation in the cloud – BIRT PowerDocs. This application is fully integrated with customer environments and is based on technology and platform of major cloud providers. BIRT PowerDocs offers users a significant upgrade from the basic functionality of cloud solutions. The advantages include: ability to publish documents in various formats, such as Microsoft Word, PDF, etc.; the option to refer to data from several objects at the same time; multi-channel delivery capabilities to distribute documents via e-mail, SMS, fax etc.; easy use of electronic signatures. These features make the complex world of documents easier to control. Flexibility, variety of options and powerful formatting possibilities allow for a smooth transition to document generation in the cloud. More information on BIRT PowerDocs.

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Preview: Building Data-Driven Customer Portals for Insurance

If Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards jams a finger and can’t perform the opening riff to “Start Me Up,” a Lloyd’s of London disability income insurance policy shelters him for a cool $1.5 million. Now your home, auto and health policies may differ greatly from those of the legendary rocker, but the insurance industry is transforming itself to give its customers satisfaction and understand their needs based on the deluge of data that’s now at their fingertips. For example, a commercial fleet insurer may use data from telematic devices implanted in vehicles to underwrite policies and set rates. (Yes, they may have to get that data off of their cloud.) Insurers know they have to synthesize this big data and deliver relevant policy information to their customers and agents on-demand through many channels, including the call center, web, mobile devices, and soon wearable devices. Customers have become accustomed to easy access to information about all facets of their insurance policies. For carriers, this creates a competitively defining moment of truth. If systems falter due to limited functionality and customers can’t always get what they want, they may drop coverage in favor of the competition. Conversely, insurance portals that promise too much too fast could find these enhancements cost prohibitive. Thankfully, time is on your side if you or your organization is building customer-facing applications that depend deeply on data. Actuate is sponsoring a webcast entitled “Maximizing the Value of Core Systems With Customer Portals” with UBM Technology Media, September 17. Allen Bonde, VP Product Marketing & Innovation at Actuate Corporation, will show how industry-leading applications are able to manage and deliver relevant visuals that pull data from a front-end customer portal. Bonde will also touch on how technologies like BIRT best address client reporting, APIs, interactivity, scalability, security and multi-tenancy – not to mention the ability to deploy to lots of customers. Other speakers in the webinar include: Nathan Golia, Senior Editor, Insurance & Technology (moderator) Steven Callahan, Management Consultant, Practice Director, The Nolan Company Chad Hersh, SVP, The Nolan Company Register today and get insight into how to leverage customer portals to provide a common customer experience across systems and reduce the pain of core systems transformation projects. By the way, if you think $1.5 million is a hefty price tag for Keith’s sticky fingers, consider that soccer star David Beckham’s legs are safe for $70 million, Bruce Springsteen’s voice is protected at $6 million and KISS front man Gene Simmons’ wagging tongue is sheltered for $1 million.  

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Using BIRT to Run Your Business From Your Phone

Remember the first time you saw a cell phone? The guy holding it was probably in a business suit and looked pretty successful. And you probably thought, How cool it would be to make phone calls and do business on the road, right? Well the promise of mobile phones and business on the go has evolved again with the release of BIRT PowerDocs for the Salesforce1 Mobile App. This cloud-based app is designed for the salesperson or account executive on the go. With a few clicks, you can automatically tap into your company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) data and parse it within Salesforce1, a popular mobile business app for sales. The result is the generation of customer data such as service requests or sales quotes and auto-generation of the appropriate documents. BIRT PowerDocs conveniently accesses Salesforce1 to manage the delivery of PDFs and Word docs as well as generate and continuously edit customer documents in the cloud. All processes and files associated with quotation creation and management can be saved in a file system or backup server, issued through a wide variety of channels, and even printed directly from Salesforce. Generated documents can be archived in any location. Of course, the app is designed for the modern smartphone, not the brick of a device you see above. Translated into more than 10 languages, the BIRT PowerDocs app can be accessed from any device – including a PC, tablet, or smartphone-  running either Android or iOS. The importance of document management cannot be understated. The proliferation of smartphones and tablet computers force companies to turn to mobile apps to manage documents where they need to be competitive. “For instance, the typical output management system is incapable of dialogue, which essentially strikes it out from the system requirements for managing next generation communications,” said Christian Rodrian of legodo product marketing in a recent blog. “Similarly, CRM and ERP systems alone do not allow any personalized written dialogue. For communication with customers that is both quick and personalized, a company must deploy CCM [Customer Communications Management] solutions. These CCM solutions can deliver the whole gamut of information generated by customers over social networks and through other digital services; which is necessary for creating and managing meaningful conversations with customers.” This latest version of BIRT PowerDocs is immediately available for test drive and deployment on the Salesforce AppExchange. Here’s the first in a series of videos explaining the awesomeness of BIRT PowerDocs.

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BIRT iHub F-Type Generates Analyst and Press Buzz

Since BIRT F-Type launched on July 10, the analysts and press who cover the personalized analytics market have been buzzing about Actuate’s free server for BIRT reports. These are just a few of their comments. “The interactive reporting capabilities are a strong-point of the platform … and a core aspect of self-service BI that many vendors are overlooking.” Cindi Howson, BI Scorecard. “Looking at the UI, report creators and even users will have the ability to decide how a report is modified, copied, stored and even limit who can send it on. With the ease that data is currently leaked out of many organisations, this will make a lot of companies very happy, especially as they continue to deploy analytics solutions and highly sensitive data to an increasing number of people inside their businesses.” Ian Murphy, business-cloud.com. “Users can run the software to produce up to 50MB of output each day, which can be enough to produce hundreds of reports, with copious tables, charts and other visualizations. … The results of an analysis can be exported into an Excel spreadsheet or embedded into a Web page through a JavaScript programming interface. The Web report can even have controls that the user can manipulate to further scrutinize the data presentation.” Joab Jackson, PC World. “BIRT iHub F-Type provides the industry’s most complete and powerful deployment infrastructure for delivering BIRT content. Developers using BIRT iHub F-type will be allowed 50MB of data free of charge on any given day, with two overages allowed per month. The customers can pay for additional bandwidth by credit card if and when it is required. The users can schedule, store and manage BIRT content, add interactivity for BIRT Reports, collaborate and share content with users, eport [sic] BIRT content to Live Excel, PDF, HTML, XML, and more.” Mandira Srivastava, infoTECH Spotlight. “The new software boosts open source BIRT developers’ productivity through free access to the features and power of the commercial BIRT iHub enterprise-grade deployment platform, with metered output capacity.” Information Management. BIRT iHub F-Type is available free today from the BIRT iHub F-Type download page, and is distributed under Actuate’s commercial licensing terms. There are some limits on capacity (50MB of output capacity per day), but upgrades are priced starting at $500 per month for an additional 50MB. And because you read this blog, Actuate is offering an additional 50MB of daily capacity until the end of 2014. For additional information, check out “All You Need To Know’ about BIRT iHub F-Type.” Complete coverage of BIRT F-Type can be found on Actuate’s BIRT Buzz page. “Buzz” image by Sean MacEntee.

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Actuate Launches BIRT iHub F-Type: The Evolution of BIRT is Now

Every once in a while you get lucky enough to see the evolution of a product. Consider yourselves privileged to download a FREE way to make your data visualizations and reporting sizzle. This morning, Actuate, The BIRT Company™ took the wraps off of BIRT iHub F-Type. This is a FREE report server for open source Eclipse BIRT developers and other Java developers who are interested in designing, deploying and distributing BIRT content without having to write even one single line of code. What’s really exciting about BIRT F-Type is how much easier it makes it for developers to share content with individual end-users across multiple devices. Within the first 15 minutes of downloading BIRT iHub F-Type, a developer can import a BIRT report, schedule secure distribution or export their report as a full-function Excel spreadsheet. Another feature very well-received by beta testers is that this is a free version of BIRT iHub that lives on premise – or within the developer’s servers – instead of being a cloud-based product. As an avid BIRT developer, Ella Xiong says Actuate’s F-Type program is “very user-friendly, intuitive, and easy to understand. For example, the program’s Uploader has a relatively simple interface to handle for most end users.” Additionally, Xiong also declares that features such as “the ability to export Excel documents to other formats within the program is very useful to my clients. Most of them like saving their reports in other formats for alternative reference, such as PDF, XML and other file types; F-Type makes it easy to do just that.” Here is just a smattering of the features and benefits: Easily export data to native Excel with native formulas, pivot tables and multi-worksheet workbooks. No need to create a parallel Excel-centric infrastructure or default to comma-separated values (CSV) for users that demand Excel. Save time by letting users customize their own content. You no longer need to create endless variations of reports for each user. Boost productivity with self-service content automation. Using custom code to build scheduling and email distribution is a thing of the past. Secure data at a granular level and socialize and collaborate content only to those who are authorized to see it or share it. There’s no need to build a separate management platform for your BIRT content Pre-built deployment tools allow you to seamlessly insert BIRT content into your web or mobile application. BIRT iHub F-Type is available free today from the BIRT iHub F-Type download page, and is distributed under Actuate’s commercial licensing terms. There are some limits on capacity (50MB of output capacity per day), but upgrades are priced starting at $500 per month for an additional 50MB. And just because you read this blog, Actuate is offering an additional 50MB of daily capacity for use until the end of 2014. For additional information, check out “All You Need To Know’ about BIRT iHub F-Type.”

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Wise Guys: What Crowds Say About Business Intelligence

If two heads are better than one, how much better are eleven hundred heads? We believe they’re abundantly better, and that’s why we’re proud to share some highlights from a recent report that’s based on interviews with more than 1,100 Business Intelligence (BI) users worldwide. The 2014 Wisdom of Crowds Cloud Business Intelligence Market Study, published by Dresner Advisory Services, found that Actuate meets the needs of demanding cloud BI users.  Actuate’s solutions deliver 19 of the 20 most-desired cloud BI features, including data mining and advanced algorithms, text analytics, and social media analysis. Actuate solutions also met 15 out of 16 cloud architecture requirements, including connectors to cloud databases (such as Redshift and CloudSQL) and cloud applications (such as Salesforce and NetSuite). Between features and architecture, Actuate met 94 percent of the needs of cloud BI users – third overall among vendors, and more than 21 other BI software companies. A summary of key findings from recent Wisdom of Crowds surveys is free for download. Among my favorite crowdsourced facts: Nine out of 10 Actuate customers would recommend the company’s products and services (thank you!); Actuate’s technical support is the best in the industry; and Actuate’s customer base is growing – in fact, 43 percent of Actuate customers in Dresner’s survey have used the software for two years or less. But really, the most important statistic is this: In Dresner’s survey group, Actuate customers are more likely to report success with their BI projects than the overall survey population. (See the graph, below.) When our customers succeed, we succeed. Why should you care what Dresner Advisory Services says? Unlike market research that relies on random web surveys, Dresner is picky about who they survey and how they interact.  Wisdom of Crowds research involves “interviewing end users in all industries and in organizations of all sizes to uncover firsthand what they are experiencing and how they plan to expand their BI usage,” Dresner said in a press release. Howard Dresner is a frequent presenter at technology events and webinars. Last week he gave a webinar on Embedded BI that’s available for replay. If you’ve heard Dresner speak, attended one of his webinars, or participated in a Wisdom of Crowds survey, tell us about your experience in comments. [Image from Dresner’s 2013 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study, Special Report: Actuate.]

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What’s the Difference Between Van Morrison and a Value Added Network?

Well put simply one is still doing the same thing they were doing more than forty five years ago and the other has evolved into something very different, but which is which? When I was a child, my parents were constantly playing Van Morrison music in the background whilst I was trying to build intricate engineering models with my Meccano set! In fact the late sixties were quite busy with Van Morrison launching what was to be a very successful solo career, the first EDI messages started to be exchanged and I was born around this time as well. When I joined GXS back in early 2006 I was introduced to the world of hub and spoke communities and Value Added Networks but this was at a time when the company was busy repositioning itself into something very different. After I joined GXS I started to hear terms such as the company being ‘more than just a VAN’ and as soon as I heard the VAN acronym I had flashbacks to when my parents were playing Van Morrison records, may be it was because the name ‘Van’ had been so engrained in my mind from a very early age! Anyway time moves on, GXS has evolved and under new ownership of OpenText™, the world’s largest provider of Enterprise Information Management solutions, Trading Grid™, as our B2B network is called, is going to evolve still further and will strengthen the link between the internal and external enterprise. Moving EDI messages from one mail box to another is still part of our business, however the key growth area is our Managed Services offering and this is perfectly timed with the global interest in moving to cloud based services as a way to develop leaner, more scalable IT infrastructures. OpenText™ Trading Grid™ is essentially a network, something that our company has offered for many years and it helps to connect companies together to allow them to undertake business with each other. Trading Grid™ provides the single entry point into an enterprise and allows you to connect to many different external trading partners. So using this analogy Trading Grid™ is a business or B2B Network, not just any B2B network but one that is processing more than 16billion transactions each year. Once connected to Trading Grid™, companies can potentially connect with over 600,000 other businesses that are also making use of this network today. The former GXS company now sits under a business unit called Information Exchange and this business unit includes services such as Secure Messaging and Rightfax solutions to name but a few. The most staggering number shown below is the amount of commerce being transacted across Trading Grid over a one year period. So in the same way that Van Morrison’s music was initially released on records, you can now download a complete digital set of his music from Apple’s iTunes, in the world of EDI, the Trading Grid™ network has evolved into offering cloud based B2B integration services. This is significant progression in my mind! In my last blog post I discussed how companies can get more out of a B2B Network and during my keynote presentation at EDIFICE I cited several examples of different consumer and business networks. The so called ‘Network Effect’ is transforming how both people and companies communicate with each other. From personal networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, through to consumer networks or eco-systems which offer multiple services from with an environment such as iTunes or Google. Finally there are business networks such as industry specific ones such as Exostar and then B2B networks such as OpenText™ Trading Grid™. People have become use to connecting to a network and then using different services that reside on these particular networks. In the case of Trading Grid™, these additional services could be processing invoices across each of the 28 countries that make up the European Union, connecting to global banks via our SWIFT Bureau service, tracking the lifecycle of business transactions, through to managing the day to day collaboration between potentially thousands of trading partners and then providing direct integration with back office business systems such as SAP and SAGE. Three years ago I saw the above image posted on the internet which highlighted all the interactions between different users on Facebook over a fixed period of time. As you can see, all the Facebook interactions neatly define a map of the world. Given that I look after the industry marketing for the manufacturing vertical at OpenText™, I was curious to see the type of network that could be formed by companies connected to Trading Grid™. For the purposes of the graphic below, I have removed the names of the companies but it quickly became apparent that if an automotive supplier is connected to Trading Grid™ then they would be able to undertake B2B with virtually any of their trading partners located anywhere in the world. I won’t bore you with the details on all the individual B2B solutions used by these companies but once I created the above diagram, using a very small subset of our overall automotive customer base, there were some interesting observations. North American companies were very keen to try move towards using cloud based services (represented by the Managed Service, MS icon), European companies were keen on using their own home grown B2B platforms combined with our messaging platform, Trading Grid Messaging Service (TGMS) and the Japanese companies were moving away from behind the firewall B2B solutions to cloud based services. The Japanese observation was probably as a result of the recent natural disasters that have impacted the country and their desire to spread their production risk around the world. In fact the automotive industry is truly global in nature and when OEMs move into a new country such as Mexico, their key suppliers are expected to move quickly into the country with them. Only a cloud based B2B infrastructure can provide this level of flexibility and scalability. As I highlighted in an earlier blog relating to the Internet of Things (IoT), the B2B network as we know it today is going to evolve still further. For example information from billions of connected devices across the supply chain will provide an end to end view of shipments that we have never experienced before. So just when today’s CIOs have started to embrace Cloud, Mobile, Big Data and Social Networks, along comes the IoT, considered by many as one of the most disruptive technologies of our times. Needless to say OpenText™ will embrace these disruptive technologies as part of our 2020 Digital Agenda and we will help guide CIOs through this period of significant ‘Digital Disruption’. So if you would like to learn why our B2B network is significantly more than just a VAN, then please visit our website for more information on Trading Grid™ and our future 2020 Digital Agenda. So just in case you haven’t worked out by now, after 45 years Van Morrison is still producing music and it is the EDI VAN that has evolved into a cloud based B2B Network. In closing it is interesting that Van Morrison’s latest album is called ‘Born to Sing’, a bit like Trading Grid, ‘Born to do B2B’

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