Collaboration added to reports

Last June, when Statistical Surveys had a client insist that the market share research company in Grand Rapids, Mich., implement a Web-based reporting tool, it turned to Ottawa-based Databeacon Inc.

“We looked at the different companies that were out there, and we felt that Databeacon was very user friendly, it worked well with the way our product was set up, and it was fast,” said Tom Walworth, president and CEO of Statistical Surveys.

Now Databeacon has released Databeacon 6.0, more commonly known as the Collaborative Edition. Statistical Surveys deployed v5.3 and intends to upgrade to the Collaborative Edition in about a month, Walworth said.

Andy Coutts, president and CEO of Databeacon, said the hallmark of this new version is, not surprisingly, the ability to collaborate. The product makes it easier for users to write and collaborate on reports, as well as disseminate these reports and data analysis to a large number of people via the Web, he said.

Recipients could then use those reports to create one of their own with a few clicks of a mouse.

Statistical Surveys is commissioned to do market research reports on the marine, recreational vehicle, and manufactured housing industries. Walworth said his clients want to be able to view data by categories such as market share, manufacturer, and states the products are selling in. All users need to do is click on the category they are interested in and the data related to that category pops up.

To run the Web-based program, users require a version of Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer v5.0 or higher, or Netscape Navigator v4.7 or higher. It runs on Unix, Linux and Windows 95, 98, NT, Millenium, 2000 and XP operating systems. It also supports any Web servers with common gateway interface (CGI) support such as Apache 2.0 and up, and Microsoft Internet Information Server 4.0 and up. Customers download the application from Databeacon’s Web site.

Coutts said the Collaborative Edition is installed on the server, but executes on the desktop. He said this results in less space taken up on the server, less use of bandwidth and infinite scalability.

“The design of Databeacon is set up so it doesn’t impact your server that much. So that allows us to keep our hardware and continue to serve the customer with pretty quick response,” Walworth said.

The Collaboration edition also offers a new feature called relative time categories – pre-defined relative time periods integrated into the program that allow users to view data for specific time periods, such as the previous month or previous year and perform comparisons.

Collaborative Edition is comprised of three components – first is a Java-based applet called the Databeacon Insight viewer that automatically loads into a browser to allow a user to view, create and collaborate on Web reports.

Second is the graphical user interface (GUI) application – Databeacon publisher- that lets a user publish data by defining and designing the structure of multi-dimensional online analytical processing (OLAP) files. When e-mailed, these are sent as Web reports and HTML files so any user with a browser and an Internet connection can examine them.

Thirdly, the Databeacon designer is a server-based, command-line application for extracting data from a database and building OLAP files.

Users can also work offline, and there are different levels of user experience that can be determined – novice, standard and advanced – so the user can control the level of functionality he or she has on the program.

In addition, customers can purchase an add-on program that integrates Collaborative Edition into a Web portal. Called the Databeacon PageEnhancer application program interface (API), it allows reports to be integrated into a company’s Web portal on either its corporate or public Web site.

For smaller-sized businesses, Databeacon Collaborative Edition starts at $7,500 for a five-user license. For larger businesses that want an unlimited amount of users, pricing starts at $37,500 per processor on the Web Server, and $15,000 for Databeacon PageEnhancer API. Online demos are available.