Tools erase spreadsheet headaches

IT shops are increasingly embracing new business intelligence tools that aim to forge a balance between strident user demands for spreadsheets and corporate requirements that financial data be consistent and accurate.

Actuate Corp. recently unveiled a spreadsheet development environment for building enterprise-class systems with customized user interfaces and strong management controls.

The new Spreadsheet Application Platform also contains server-managed workflow and automated write-back to central data stores so transactional systems can be updated to reflect user changes through a process based on rules set up by IT operations, according to San Francisco-based Actuate.

Fujitec America Inc., a manufacturer of elevators and escalators, turned to Actuate three years ago when the company realized it could never extricate spreadsheets from the enterprise system, said Rick Groth, CIO at the Lebanon, Ohio-based company.

Since then, the company has used Actuate’s spreadsheet tools to deliver reports from its ERP systems in an Excel-compatible format.

Eric Rogge, an analyst at Ventana Research Inc. in San Mateo, Calif., said the new spreadsheet tools appeal to companies as they look to better integrate BI tools and Office applications like Excel.

Meanwhile, Hyperion Solutions Corp. last month brought out Hyperion System 9, which marries the company’s BI and financial management software with a single user interface.

The new version also provides controlled access to spreadsheets that can be automatically updated as authorized data from underlying transactional systems change, said John Kopcke, chief technology officer at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor.

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