NGS Makes OLAP Module Easier to Use
Published: May 11, 2010
by Alex Woodie
New Generation Software next month will deliver a new release of its SmartView OLAP software that will give users more power over how they analyze and manipulate data. Specifically, the addition of the new "calculated fields" function will allows users to perform their own calculations on SmartView data presented to them. In addition to eliminating the need for developers to anticipate to a high degree the data users need, it also opens up entirely new ways of deriving new information from existing data.
Online analytical processing (OLAP) has a reputation for being a powerful yet difficult-to-use business intelligence function. While the multidimensional database technology does allow users to glean business insights by sorting and viewing data from different angles, users are typically restricted to viewing only the data that is presented to them by developers. If the data was not included in the initial query used to populate the multidimensional database, or "cube," it will not be loaded into the OLAP module, it won't be viewable, and no business decisions can be made off it.
With the addition of calculated field support in the latest release of its Windows-based SmartView product, NGS is trying to blow some of these assumptions and restrictions out of the water. According to NGS, the new function will put more power in the hands of non-technical end users, and allow them to get more benefit from their employers' SmartView investment.
In a nutshell, the new calculated field function will allow SmartView users to perform their own calculations and manipulate the data presented to them on the screen. For example, users will be able to calculate gross margins, commissions, averages, totals, and percentages of totals based on the information already provided to them. Due to the nature of this type of data, it can only be generated after the initial query has been performed, according to NGS.
Salespeople are expected to get a lot of use out of the new calculated fields function, which has existed in NGS' standard IQ Server offering but not the OLAP module. NGS says a sales manager could use the new function to sort their results by the average quantity ordered and the average sales amount in each territory. If a number caught the sales manager's eye, she could use SmartView's drill-down capability to explore the data underneath the averages, all from the same screen. Calculating sales commissions is another new feature enabled through this technology.
"We continue to design SmartView to be an OLAP module for any business user, not just for analysts who spend all day looking at data," says Bernard Gough, president and CEO of NGS. "The new calculated fields function is important because while some values must be calculated at the record level in the underlying query, other values, like average order quantity or average order amount by product and territory, need to be calculated after the data is delivered to the SmartView user."
NGS also added a new function to export SmartView data to Excel and HTML. Upon clicking the export button, users can save the SmartView data with either a .xls or .html file name. This allows the user to share the SmartView data, including all formatting and drill-down capability, with other users via Excel or the Web. This release also gets more advanced data filtering capabilities.
SmartView is one component of the NGS-IQ suite, and is often deployed with the core i/OS-based IQ Server query engine and query development tool, as well as Qport Access, which is used to initiate IQ Server queries remotely (and pushes data to SmartView). Other components of the suite include IQ Client, a Windows-based query development tool; IQ Connexion, which extends IQ Server to non DB2/400 databases; Qport Builder, a Web-based query development tool; Business Performance Dashboards, which display key performance indicators (KPIs) utilizing Adobe Flash technology; and Decision Assist, which provides pre-built data marts for specific ERP applications and industries.
For more information on SmartView or other NGS products, see the company's Web site at www.ngsi.com.
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