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Information Builders shows there's life in the over 40s yet

The appointment of Jim Irving as managing director of Information Builders in the UK illustrates how recruitment of senior execs has changed
Written by Guy Kewney, Contributor

Information Builders is finally preparing to announce its new UK boss -- as the group gets its new I-way subsidiary split off and launched into the information management "integration" business.

The appointment of Jim Irving as managing director of Information Builders in the UK illustrates how completely recruitment of senior executives has switched -- two years ago, only young, Web-centric newcomers were considered.

It could be a trend which ends with the recession; but the appointment of the more established Irving matches a pattern being seen across the industry.

Irving comes from Silicon Graphics - he had a long career before that with Digital Equipment - and is one of the "old breed" of over-40 executives, who have experienced both ups and downs in the market, and have a good idea of how to weather a storm.

Such people were not always in high demand. Two years ago, IT firms were looking for named, under-30, whizz-kids in dot-com start-ups, or trying to headhunt executives from fast-moving firms like Cisco and Netscape: commentators were noting the reluctance of boards to appoint anybody over 30.

Today, it's all changed, and the experienced Irving was able to pick a job with a company that (in his opinion) has a good chance of growing, even in these lean times.

The best-known Information Builders product was Focus, a third-generation development language, which grew "like a virus" back in the early 80s, according to its founders, in the early days of the PC.

The company has become an established supplier of development tools for software writers, and has recently spun off its newest subsidiary, iWay Software.

Its own big hope for future growth, says Irving, lies in a product called WebFocus.

This, he says, is a way of giving users the power to create business intelligence networks over the Internet, in a very short time.

Products include WebFocus application server; WebFocus ETL; a Java-based scheduling and distribution application called WebFocus Report Caster, and Enterprise Information Portal.

The "integration superhighway" product, linking WebFocus to existing or legacy applications, has now been given to iWay Software, keeping it within the group, but creating a Chinese wall which allows iWay to work with partners like IBM, whose WebSphere product would have been a competitor to Information Builders.

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