One of the more enjoyable outcomes of the growing trend toward outsourced software services is the chance to observe traditional software companies reinventing mainstay business processes – making them more accessible and far less expen-sive. This is precisely what business intelligence software maker InterNetivity Inc. has achieved with its recent launch of data-beacon.com.
Databeacon.com is a service-based version of the company’s full-featured Web-based OLAP (online analytical processing) product, databeacon. Businesses that use the Internet to deliver data to customers can also use databeacon.com to provide customers with a way of performing valuable analytical functions on that data. Companies can enable this aggregated data-analysis capability from any data-driven Web page, with no coding, no training, and, best of all, no cost.
A potentially valuable service, databeacon.com could have an impact on a number of business applications, including bill presentation, financial disclosure, supply and distribution chains, and marketplace data dissemination. In many ways, the usefulness of the service is limited only by the nature and quality of the source data.
There are a number of business intelligence tools today that also provide Web-based analytical functions, such as the BI/Suite from Hummingbird Communications. However, to utilize these tools companies must incur the cost of acquisition, deployment, and maintenance. Deploying databeacon.com takes just minutes. You fill out an online registration form and insert a few lines of HTML into the pages where data analysis is required.
Customers will not require any special software in order to run the service, and will not see any changes to their existing Web-based applications other than a link to click on to begin performing their analysis. The link, an HTML form, contains the necessary parameters for connecting to the service, such as the locations of the server and data, plus any specific formatting information. When your customer clicks on the link, a request is sent to a CGI program that accepts the parameters, grabs the data from the data source, and dynamically transforms it into a multidimensional cube. The results are delivered to the client via a signed Java applet viewer.
Databeacon.com supports a wide array of intuitive graphical formats, such as vertical and horizontal histograms, bar charts, pie charts, line graphs, and tables, from which users can view and work with the data. It also gives users the ability to create and print point-in-time reports of the graphical results by exporting them to Adobe Acrobat. Finally, data can be exported to office productivity tools such as Microsoft Excel.
The engine that fuels the databeacon.com service is InterNetivity’s own flagship product, databeacon (formerly know as dbProbe). However, not all of the features of databeacon are enabled in the new service. Chief among the missing features is the capability of providing SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connections. If the data you’re presenting is sensitive or highly confidential, you’d be wise to pass on the service and not risk compromising customers’ data.
The inability to design cubes is also a real bane. The tool does a great job of building cubes that it infers from the data, but users who require more granularity will likely be disappointed. Another problem is the lack of support for XML. This can make things far more complex for organizations that are using XML tags in their data sources.
InterNetivity’s databea con.com is a nifty service that can add a lot of value to the business-to-business data presentation you’re currently doing via the Internet or Intranet. But don’t confuse it with a full-fledged enterprise business-intelligence solution.