Databeacon shines light on collaboration

Ottawa-based Databeacon Inc. last month released a new edition of its Web-based report analysis tool, which the firm says 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.

The hallmark of this version, dubbed Databeacon Collaborative Edition, is that users can create a report and send it to anyone via e-mail. Because the raw data of that report is available to the recipient, he or she can then use that report to create another through a few clicks of the mouse.

Users require a version of Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer v5.0 or higher, or Netscape Navigator v4.7 or higher in order to use the program because it is Web-based. It runs on Unix, Linux and Windows 95,98, NT, Millenium, 200 and XP operating systems. It also supports any Web servers with common gateway interface (CGI) support. Customers download the application from Databeacon’s Web site.

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

According to Databeacon, business analytics are usually carried out by a few highly trained professionals working in department silos, which inhibits easy sharing of reporting and analysis information. In addition, the company says sharing insights from data in a timely way has long been problematic, due to software licensing and systems infrastructure costs.

Databeacon Collaborative Edition was created so that users don’t have to be highly trained in order to create and analyze reports, the firm said.

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 interactively 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.

Finally, 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 toolbar settings can be selected so the user can control the level of functionality he or she has on the program.

Coutts said this is because about 30 per cent of users only want to see the reports, and don’t want to manipulate them or drill down into the raw data. He said there is a risk that these users could become overwhelmed with program, so the easier user settings are designed to make less computer-savvy people more comfortable with the program.

In addition, customers can purchase an add-on complementary 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. And, users can select two options in which to view the report – a presentation mode, or an analysis mode. Simply put, the presentation mode displays the data in a less-complex fashion while the analysis mode provides more variables for the user to see.

For 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.

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