Dashboard Insight recently spoke with Exact Software's Paul Challinor about analytics solutions, the delivery of business intelligence and how to help businesses address the current economic downturn.
Dashboard Insight: Tell us about the history of Exact Software.
Paul Challinor: Exact Software was founded 25 years ago in Delft, Netherlands and remains headquartered there today.Exact is listed on the Euronext Stock Exchange in Amsterdam and distributes its earnings and financial results as any other public company. Exact Software has a strong presence in the Americas and around the world, offering a direct support network to multinational as well as local customers.
DI: Where does Exact Software sit on the B.I. stack?
PC: Exact Business Analytics (EBA) is a full-featured suite of OLAP-based analytics solutions that avoids the cost, complexity and inflexibility of the traditional data warehouse by utilizing a unique approach to on-demand, federated data access, aggregation and consolidation. It includes an analytics authoring environment that’s optimized for use by non-technical business users, web-based and Excel-based dashboarding modules, OLAP-based analytics and reporting client applications as well as a server-based refresh and distribution engine.
DI: How does your Exact Graphical Performance Series (GPS) product line deliver business intelligence, analytics and reporting solutions?
PC: EBA is primarily an OLAP-based solution. By leveraging both a logical business information model as well as an integrated physical data model, EBA’s Real Time Data Integration Server (RDIS) is able to provide aggregated and consolidated OLAP-based analytics from an unlimited number of heterogeneous data sources on demand. The RDIS module manages all data connections and comprehensive user security as well as the repository of metadata and centralized analytics templates.
User interface options include rich client apps with full client-side OLAP, report writer functionality and on-demand update capabilities, as well as web-server-based dashboards using Flash-based web parts.
DI: You recently announced the development of a program geared toward helping businesses proactively address the economic downturn. Can you tell us more about the program?
PC: Exact provides real-life solutions to pressing business problems for companies working their way through the challenging economic environment. From business-process assessments - which help optimize the efficient use of Exact applications - to point solutions that help businesses focus on deliverables that increase the satisfaction of their customers, Exact is committed to helping customers prepare for the eventual upturn of the economy.
DI: Do you offer localized versions of your solutions? If so, can you tell us about what you offer?
PC: Yes we do – this is a hallmark of Exact’s global presence. We offer products in more than 40 languages and with legislative capabilities for many countries. A large number of our customers are international and rely on Exact to deliver localized versions of standard products. We further back that up with localized Exact presence in dozens of countries, providing service and support to customers in the local language, in the local time zone, and with local cultural practices.
DI: Can you tell us about some of your key clients?
PC: EBA has been particularly successful in the manufacturing and CPG industries. Two key clients come to mind quickly: Liberty Hardware Manufacturing and Parker Hannifin.
Liberty realized that to maximize the value of their ERP application and provide a solid foundation for business decisions, they needed to improve the frequency, accuracy and accessibility of their business reporting. Specifically, business users needed the ability to perform their own analysis, without routing information requests through the IT department. Their existing reporting tool did not allow users to select data fields using business terminology, which leads to frequent questions of reporting accuracy. Also, Liberty needed a solution that could integrate vitally important point-of-sale (POS) data from their major clients, which was stored in a Microsoft Access database.
With our help, sales, inventory, purchasing, and POS data is now accessed and applied on a daily basis, greatly increasing the overall value of Liberty’s ERP solution. Integrating the POS data with other business information has also proven to be highly valuable. Sales teams conduct in-depth analysis of products and programs to measure the success of specific items or sales strategies. The integrated information also enables much tighter control of inventory levels and production planning.
As for Parker, they had a 12-year investment in their JD Edwards World ERP system and recognized an opportunity to leverage that asset to support specific business objectives, including sales analysis and strategic pricing initiatives. The company also sought to provide a standardized reporting structure for all departments and locations that would eliminate duplicate and repetitive report generation. Their goal was to ease the reporting burden on the IT department, while providing a single information resource with accurate data for all locations across their very large organization.
Exact’s ability to dynamically combine data from multiple sources was uniquely suited to Parker's complex data environment, which includes 46 distinct JDE databases in multiple locations. GPS enables business users to access the specific information they need to see without being concerned where the data is stored.
DI: What is the process if someone wants to evaluate your solutions?
PC: Information on the website www.exactamericas.com or contact sales at 1-800-468-0834 ext.2650.
DI: What can we expect to see from Exact Software in the coming months?
PC: Exact continues to deliver value-added solutions that help our customers grow their businesses. There are product roadmaps well into the future for our products, and significant expertise resident in our service personnel. We are continuing to provide the capability for customers to achieve a truly consolidated view of their business, with role-based performance management. Combined with the ability to view and measure KPIs, the Exact Synergy Performance Suite gives businesses the unique ability to achieve transparency and visibility to key processes and operations, while controlling those processes within one unified application.
Paul Challinor is the Senior Product Manager for Business Analytics at Exact Software. A veteran of the analytics and consulting industries for more than 20 years, Paul has held directorial positions at Vanguard Solutions Group, Inc. and The Bama Companies, Inc. He is a certified practitioner of inventory management by the American Production and Inventory Control Society and an expert in ERP, business analytics/intelligence and data warehousing.