BI reporting tools improve

SAN FRANCISCO (11/17/2003) - BI vendors MicroStrategy Inc., Actuate Corp. and QlikTech Inc. are reinforcing their reporting tools with simplified deployment, centralized management, and better data presentation.

MicroStrategy will unveil this week its new Report Services, designed to simplify the deployment of BI apps to employees, customers, and suppliers. The tool's Web interface will allow users to receive personalized versions of reports such as scorecards, managed metrics, and invoices, as well as statements for customers. The design interface is geared to allow users to create reports without programming or outside help. Also, reports can be delivered to the Web, networked printers, e-mail file servers, and portals.

Universal Pictures, a division of Vivendi Universal S.A., has been using a beta version of MicroStrategy's new technology for 250 employees in its home-entertainment division. Users have more thoroughly analyzed a wide variety of information, such as sales and return data and inventory and advertising costs, said Laura Paoletti, senior director of IT at Universal's home-entertainment division.

"We're able to present the information in a format that is usable over the Web or the desktop. User-defined Web reporting allows completely personalized versions of reports," Paoletti said.

Earlier this month, Actuate unveiled an enhanced version of its MAO (Multi-Application Option), designed to allow enterprises to centralize BI by managing multiple applications on a single platform architecture.

Regional transportation company Pitt Ohio Express is leveraging Actuate's MAO to centralize BI for both internal users and customers and to ensure the accuracy of its reports delivered to 2,000 users daily, said Kent Szalla, IT corporate business systems for the Pittsburgh, Pa.-based company.

"Transactional systems cannot make assumptions on trends because a lot of data is purged just so a transaction can go through," Szalla said. "We have some power business users who might run a report, and IT might run a report; and they get two different answers. If that gets in the hands of a customer, it is a bad thing."

But with centralized BI, the company can standardize answers to queries while enforcing security policies and deflecting the impact of multiple report requests from users so that systems don't go down.

QlikTech, for its part, this month rolled out the newest release of its QlikView 6.02 BI software suite designed to give thin Web clients ad hoc reporting capabilities and enhanced dashboard and collaborative features.

"A lot of these (vendors) are finally realizing that the broader market is in more standardized reporting capabilities," said Wayne Eckerson, director of research at The Data Warehousing Institute. "All people really want is reporting with just a little bit of OLAP underneath -- a drillable report."

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