Product News in Brief

Cognos updates Series 7, data quality system DataFuse gets usability release, Advizor ships updated data visualization software, and Decision Point releases a new financial reporting compliance tool

Cognos Updates BI Suite

Cognos Inc. unveiled Cognos Series 7 Version 2, a long-awaited upgrade to the re-branded BI suite that it first announced in November 2001.

New in Cognos Series 7 Version 2 is the ability to project future values based on past performance, which Cognos says can help users make valid assumptions about the future. The new version of Cognos’ BI suite also boasts notification features that trigger database events and which can alert users to potential problems based on trends. Other new features include a zero footprint Visualizer Web client that doesn’t require applets or plug-ins.

Also new in Cognos Series 7 Version 2 are drill-through capabilities to most major OLAP sources, including Microsoft’s SQL Server Analysis Services, SAP’s Business Information Warehouse, Hyperion’s Essbase and IBM’s DB2 OLAP Server. Cognos also enhanced its BI suite’s platform reach, introducing support for IBM’s AIX and HP’s HP-UX Unix operating environments.

Notably absent from the newest version of Cognos’ BI suite are either of its data mining products, 4Thought and Scenario. According to Mike Schiff, a senior analyst with consultancy Current Analysis Inc., while Cognos continues to offer both products on a standalone basis, “their omission from Series 7 raises concerns about their future.”

Cognos Series 7 Version 2 is anchored by Cognos’ BI product set, which includes a managed reporting tool (Cognos Impromptu), an analysis tool (Cognos PowerPlay), an ad hoc query facility (Cognos Query), and data visualization capabilities. In addition, Cognos Series 7 Version 2 includes a meta data management facility (Cognos Architect), a security and single sign on component (Cognos Access Manager), and a portal (Cognos Upfront). Cognos BI suite also boasts a notification facility that can push information to users (Cognos NoticeCast) and which supports e-mail, PDAs and other devices.

Cognos says that Series 7 Version 2 will be available sometime this month.

DataMentors Revamps DataFuse for Usability

DataMentors Inc. last week announced version 2.40 of DataFuse, a data quality system that cleanses, organizes and standardizes data. DataMentors previously introduced DataFuse 2.30 in July 2002.

DataMentors positions the new version of DataFuse as a usability release. To that end, it includes support for customer-specific user-defined tables, such that users can add or override entries in the DataFuse Information Library without these entries getting overwritten by new releases. In addition, DataFuse 2.40 can automate the creation of match exception tables. Users can create a match exception for any field and enter values that should be disregarded during matching, at which point DataFuse will automatically generate the correct scripts.

DataFuse 2.40 also boasts an improved file viewer that enables users to look at input files, output files or intermediate files. In previous versions of DataFuse, users couldn’t look at the files themselves, but had to dump data to the screen in order to look at it. DataFuse 2.40 also eliminates file size restrictions for filtering, such that DataFuse can now apply filters to files larger than 2 GB. Additional usability improvement include the adoption of a fixed-width font that DataMentors says should make statistics easier to read, along with the introduction of a new option that lets users skip unnecessary steps.

The new version of DataFuse supports both name-and-address and non-name-and-address data. Like its predecessors, DataFuse 2.40 lacks real-time capabilities and runs in batch or incremental modes.

DataMentors’ customers include The New York Times Co. and Morgan Stanley.

Advizor Launches New Data Visualization Software

Advizor Solutions Inc. last week launched version 3.0 of its Advizor data visualization software. Advizor 3.0 matches an intuitive visual presentation of business data with an integrated query capability.

New in Advizor 3.0 are enhancements to its interactive mapping and geographic mapping capabilities. In addition, Advizor 3.0 features a new authoring edition and enhanced installation capabilities that are said to facilitate easier integration with existing applications. For the first time, Advizor 3.0 components can be authored in and distributed by means of Web pages. The new version of the product also boasts additional data support for OLE DB, OCDB flat files, and Excel spreadsheets.

Earlier this year, Advizor Solutions was created as a spin-off from Web analytics specialist Visual Insights. Visual Insights, for its part, was spun off from Bell Labs in 1999. In late January, Advizor Solutions signed an agreement with Business Objects to provide visualization features for the latter’s Dashboard Manager product. Other Advizor clients include business intelligence vendor Cognos, IBM, and supply chain management specialist i2.

DecisionPoint Announces Financial Reporting and Compliance Tool

DecisionPoint Applications last week announced the DecisionPoint Compliance Dashboard, a packaged application designed to help organizations certify their financial reports for compliance with the process, accuracy and reporting requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

Among other provisions, Sarbanes-Oxley requires that the CEO and CFO of a publicly traded company certify the accuracy of its financial statements.

To that end, DecisionPoint says that Compliance Dashboard can perform detailed reporting of key financial metrics, and enables an organization to define range thresholds for given metrics which can trigger alerts—via email, or by color-coding on the Compliance Dashboard—when thresholds are exceeded.

Compliance Dashboard is powered by DecisionPoint’s Warehouse, which provides source mappings to packaged applications from Oracle Corp. and PeopleSoft Inc. Compliance Dashboard can compile reports based on four different reporting areas: income statement, balance sheet, account balances and journal entries. As a result of its data warehouse underpinnings, Compliance Dashboard enables users to drill down and drill across analysis to get to the source data. DecisionPoint says that this makes it easier for users to get to the root of any reported data anomalies.

DecisionPoint expects to ship Compliance Dashboard by the end of this month.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.