By Tim Nicholson
VP, Informer Customer Services
I have the fortunate opportunity to frequently talk with a lot of customers and prospective customers. It’s nice to see the excitement people have when they discover unexpected timesaving functionality provided by Informer 5. Here are five areas of functionality that I’d like to share with you that receive consistent praise.
1) Consolidating Data Sources
Using Informer 5, users can combine data from multiple Datasources into Datasets, providing for broader and more comprehensive analysis. For example, ERP systems, MySQL database, Excel spreadsheets, etc. can all be pulled together into Informer. Using common key fields, links can be established between different Datasources to create a single Dataset. If common keys don’t already exist, it still might be possible to create a key field using a Flowstep to create a key that matches the key on the other side. Then the different Datasources can be joined. Even if a common key doesn’t exist, all the different Datasources can still be pulled into Informer to create a Dashboard with a view of each Datasource.
2) Creating and Sharing Visuals
It’s common to hear customers say they like:
- the ability to show multiple different Datasets within an Informer Dashboard — where all the visuals are on one screen and with each Dataset having its own unique visual
- the number of visuals and ease in which they can be created and configured, as well as the ability to do more analysis inside Dashboards
- simplifying side-by-side comparative analysis using Comparison Boards
- pinning visuals to their home page to create a personalized view
- Informer 5’s sharing feature which enables selective views to be created as opposed to a public view that allows everyone to see posted reports.
3) Scheduling Actions to be Executed
Customers also talk about how exciting Informer Jobs are because they can set up things to be executed with the scheduler. But, did you know it’s more than a scheduler? Informer Jobs also enables you to automate your processes. For example, you can add six Datasets to a Job and have one email go out with six different attachments that you need to see every day. By compiling them together, you avoid creating six different Jobs associated with six different activities. You can also automate system processes like writing data files to your network or transmitting them securely via SFTP.
4) Eliminating one-off reporting
While showing Informer to prospective customers, they often say they need to build a lot of “one off” reports. I explain that they can eliminate the need to create numerous “one off” reports by using a single Dataset for slicing and dicing the data using filter chips and quickly creating visuals. Once they see how to create a Dataset, report, visual, etc., they are shocked by realizing how many days of work they can free up by eliminating the manual reporting process.
The learning process is straight forward:
- determine what you want the Dataset to have in it
- figure out how you’re going to use that Dataset to create and share visuals with others
- build the data structure by first understanding the analysis and reporting needs of management and staff within the organization, and then create the actual definition of the query in Informer.
After that, management and staff can start using the Dataset to analyze and create their own reports.
5) Supporting Project Management
Many of our customers work on multiple projects with multiple tasks to complete and they frequently check throughout the day to see where they are in the completion of these tasks. They need to see daily snapshots of their business to easily spot what’s missing. However, spotting missing information is very difficult when project information is provided in huge reports.
Informer 5 Datasets can be configured to update frequently to show what needs to be worked on. Dashboards make it easy to spot tasks that still need to be completed by showing, for example, accounts, orders received, orders closed, open tasks, etc.
Dashboard reports can show what’s missing. For example, a lot of schools need to send compliance reports to the state and they need to track the status of completion for these reports. Other schools import student demographic data from a government institutional database into an Informer Workspace and create a Dataset to zero-in on specific areas and outliers to see how their outreach programs are doing there. To make better investment decisions in their programs, they look at how many students are from specific high schools and compare the number of applicants vs. how many actually came to their school.
Informer can also be used as a data error-checking tool where abnormalities in data patterns can be spotted. This sparks the opportunity for more investigative questions to be asked. For example:
- spotting files that were closed but there are open actions that haven’t been completed
- incomplete student record information or the incorrect status on their record
To learn more about the functionality mentioned here or any other Informer functionality, please contact Informer Support with questions or to schedule training.