This is not a new skill for Information Builders. From the start, their products have had features for full application development tasks. Not only can their BI product display information content to the users, but it can interact and gather raw data. Closed-loop means that the user can view information as well as change it.
While some organizations are concerned about BI applications that update data, others embrace it. For one Partner Intelligence client, we implemented a dashboard solution that provided their purchasing group with suggestions for saving money. However, if a purchasing decision maker disagreed with the automated recommendation, he or she could click on that line and cause it to disappear from that and future reports.
That "closed-loop" reporting feature updated a flag in the database identifying that piece of information to be excluded from the report. It was an easy task with WebFOCUS, but may have been near impossible with a typical report writing software product.
WebFOCUS also provided a way for that client to enter currently-not-available information. The purchasing person had some inside information about a future agreement that was not yet in the ERP system. Using a BI data entry screen, this person could add this piece of breaking news into the application that would influence the savings advice for everybody the next day.
During nightly processing, WebFOCUS picks up the new information, builds a formal transaction, and passes it along to the ERP system so that this new information can become active. Had the client needed more real-time synchronization, we could have made the ERP communication happen on a data-change basis.
Many people still dismiss handheld devices such as phones and tablets as being devices only good for "consumption." They want to pigeon-hole mobile devices to reading information, unable to process transactions and update data. Information Builders may help change this attitude.
For more information on Information Builder's closed-loop mobile BI offerings, see their press release.