7 Apr 2011
Inforbix: Product Data Applications using Semantic Data Technologies
First announced in Nov 2010, Inforbix, a new player in the product data management field, recently entered into next phase of its business. The company ran Beta testing program, refreshed website and published new videos. We contacted Oleg Shilovitsky, Inforbix CEO and founder, who kindly agreed to answer our questions.
- What is Inforbix? Who founded it? What was the goal?
Oleg: Inforbix was founded in early 2010 by Oleg Shilovitsky and Anatoly Savin. Our vision then and now is to build a company that develops product data applications which address product data problems manufacturing companies experience.
- You have a strong PDM background: previous ten years you worked at SmarTeam. What advantages gave it to your new business?
Oleg: Over the years, I have met and worked with hundreds of manufacturing companies. In most cases, product data is fragmented and duplicated across disparate organizations and sources and located in different file types and databases. What I have learned is that people want the ability to easily access and retrieve product data from anywhere in the company, no matter where or how it is stored. Itís all about re-using existing up-to-date product data, avoiding mistakes, and time wasted locating product data. Weíre developing product data applications that help people make the most of their product data and help get their job done.
- Inforbix develops a cloud-based product data search, right? Do you plan to extend your technology with other PDM functions - data management, collaboration, CAD integration, revision management?
Oleg: Inforbix develops product data applications that are made available via the Cloud, i.e. via a standard web-browser. We use Product Data Semantic technology to retrieve product data from disparate sources and file types (e.g. Excel, CAD files, PDM/PLM systems, Data Vaults, Databases, etc) and present the results in a meaningful and unambiguous way. We provide the means of easily aggregating and fusing (aka slicing and dicing) up-to-date product data together, saving the results and sharing them with others. We do so without requiring any data migration, our own product data database, or proprietary file types. Because we can access product data from PDM systems, we have no plans to replicate or extend PDM functionality. Data management, collaboration, CAD integration, revision management are all features and functions currently available from any number of PDM & PLM vendors. Inforbix co-exists with all of them.
- What companies do you target as potential customers? What are the benefits for them to use your solution?
Oleg: In practice, any manufacturing company of any size can use and benefit from using Inforbix. If they have product data, chances are they have product data challenges. These include being able to access and retrieve up-to-date product data from disparate sources and file types in a meaningful manner. Inforbix addresses these challenges with Product Data Applications. By using Inforbix, it is possible to easily locate and use existing and up-to-date product data and manipulating it into useful product knowledge that cuts down on mistakes, re-creating stuff because itís too much work finding the required product data, and time wasted finding and accessing product data (which we consistently hear can take up to 25% of someones time on a daily or weekly basis).
- Your technology is based on automatic gathering of meta-data from product data files. What CAD file formats do you support?
Oleg: Inforbix gathers meta-data from product files of many types. These include Excel, PDF, DWGs, CAD systems such as SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Inventor, SolidEdge, CATIA, Pro-E, NX. Some of them are supported in Beta version and other will be supported later.
- Do you plan to retrieve product data from PDM systems or only from file system?
Oleg: Our plans include retrieving product data from all product data sources, file types, file systems, Vaults, databases and applications, such as PDM and PLM systems. We do not intend to replace any of these, rather, give people the ability to easily retrieve and manipulate product data in ways not possible before Inforbix.
- You announced an application that searches a given tag in meta-data. What else product data applications do you develop? When they will be launched?
Oleg: We currently developed two product data apps. One that helps to retrieve, browse and navigate data in a meaningful way, and another that employs the power of spreadsheets to present product data in virtual tables which can be sliced and diced just as with regular Excel. Both these product data apps are currently a part of our Beta Program. We plan on making more Product Data Applications available on a regular basis as we learn from our customers what they require.
- Do you plan to be a SaaS provider - or you will provide only software?
What sales channels do you use?
Oleg: Our software delivery model will be Cloud based, i.e., accessing Inforbix will be via standard web browsers. Our sales, packaging and pricing model will be SaaS based, i.e., customers will purchase product subscriptions on a monthly or yearly basis. Adding users will be easy and painless. Our Beta Program has two objectives: to validate our product and our go-to-market strategy. Participants in our Beta Program will play an important role in helping us shape how we go-to-market with the product along with how we will make it available. We will also evaluate the role that different sales channels might play with helping Inforbix achieve itís goals and objectives.
- What reporting functionality is available at present in Inforbix? Would it be possible to integrate Inforbix with some standard reporting tools like Crystal Report?
Oleg: Inforbix provides built-in reporting by allowing all retrievals and results to be saved and shared with others on the team. The information contained therein, is always up-to-date and can be easily further refined and manipulated, each ďslice and diceĒ capable of being saved and shared with others.
- Recently Intermech company announced quite interesting product IMShape, which allows to search by geometry shape. What do you think about adding such functionality into Inforbix, to additionally search by attributes and annotations?
Oleg: Inforbix retrieves product data by using the power of our Product Data Semantics technologies. We believe we have found an effective and efficient way of locating and accessing product data..
- You are also a very productive blogger. How do you divide your time between blogging and managing the company?
Oleg: Iím passionate about both in different ways... so finding the time comes easy to me. Moreover, we have an excellent and very experienced team. We all live and breath Inforbix. The commitment and passion of the entire team feeds off itself making it possible for us to accomplish so much in so little time. Weíre all having a great time building a company we believe will make a huge difference in the industry.
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