SymphonyRPM 4.5 Seeks The Nuclear Nexus: BI and BPM

If business intelligence provides the insight that business performance management needs, why not close the loop with one integrated platform? SymphonyRPM 4.5 does just that, say its makers.

This Halloween, one California-based vendor unleashed an upgrade that’s sure to spook a competitor or two. SymphonyRPM, Inc., of Palo Alto, rolled out version 4.5 of its flagship product, which combines several types of functionality into one platform, including predictive analytics, workflow and performance management—a curious mix, and one that also embraces the growing trend of service oriented architectures (SOA).

The new release touts several key improvements, including:

  • Custom hierarchies and custom dimensional views—These features enable role or user-specific views of information using multi-level access, drag-and-drop, dynamic hierarchy generation, while offering personalization to a user or a group. Users can go into the Web application and view products, jobs, or various business scenarios in a customized manner.
  • Application building blocks—Every workspace in the Web application is made up of “pages” and “panes” which take users through a step-by-step process for creating role-based, front-end applications. Users can import templates and utilize SymphonyRPM’s read-write capabilities and create dynamic or scheduled analytic views.
  • Design Wizard—This takes users through three steps, resulting in a directed, process-flow application that illustrates workflows using an unlimited number of pages, text-based pane types, interactive click-and-drag pane layout/positioning and more than 30 standard graphing types.

A Web-based interface consolidates multiple business scenarios into a single workspace, thus facilitating the execution of forward-looking strategies. Workflow management functionality enables collaborative decision-making and faster delivery of analytics-driven applications. A SOAP API makes integration with SOA relatively painless.

“There continues to be a disconnect in the enterprise between historical reporting and forward-looking, decision-centric performance management,” says Jim Clayton, president, SymphonyRPM, Inc. His product certainly seems to focus on that gap, offering an integrated, automation-ready environment for exploring possibilities, then taking action, including write-back to source systems for those with nerves of steel.

“We don’t have any customers writing back to source systems today,” admits Bennett Indart, vice president of products. He notes that one client, Polaroid, does come close. “They have an algorithm that assesses how much inventory to prepare—the system can serve up an optimal number. Instead of writing that back to the source system, they have the recommended system requirements [provided to analysts], but they can override.”

With such a broad array of functionality, one might expect to see salespeople from SymphonyRPM knocking on their door any day now. Not according to the company’s professed OEM sales strategy, however. The company partners primarily with GERS Retail Systems; Information Resources, Inc.; and SunGard BancWare.

Indart says that because their focus is on the channel, that allows them and their partners to do what they do best. “That’s why it’s so important for us to decouple the technology from the domain. That’s where we’re targeted; that’s why we’re going for the OEMs: they know the market; they can build the tech for that domain.”

And what about integration of RFID? “There’s a lot of talk about that,” says Indart. “There’s no reason why we couldn’t incorporate that.”

Wayne Eckerson, TDWI’s director of research and services, agrees that SymphonyRPM’s approach is rare. “There aren’t many solutions available on the market that can conduct modeling in multiple dimensions like SymphonyRPM. The new custom hierarchies, application building blocks and Design Wizard make SymphonyRPM’s platform easier to use.”

About the Author

Eric Kavanagh is the president of Mobius Media, a strategic communications consultancy. You can contact the author at ek@mobiusmedia.com.