01:29 PM

Actuate Upgrade Adds Functions For Business Users

The new release removes from IT departments the need to develop large numbers of reports while letting them keep control of the underlying data.

Actuate Corp. has developed a new release of its query and reporting software that puts more functionality into the hands of business users, removing from IT departments the burden of developing large numbers of reports while allowing IT to retain control of the underlying data.

Business-intelligence software vendors are rapidly developing versions of their products that can be used by a broader range of employees. Until now, query and reporting software has largely been used by IT staff to develop preformatted reports and queries for managers and workers. That takes up precious development resources. Only a small number of power users--business analysts with some programming knowledge--have been able to use such tools on their own.

Actuate 7, unveiled this week, provides a way for business users to develop their own reports and database queries. A new capability called Actuate Information Object Designer helps IT managers create data sets that business users can tap into according to data-access and security policies. Once the data set is available, employees can use a new feature called Actuate Query to develop their own reports that retrieve needed information. Data is delivered in several formats, including Excel or PDF.

Business users, such as executives and line-of-business managers, typically make up about 25% of a company's employees, according to Giga Information Group. Actuate says the new software can meet their information needs for about $40 per user per year, compared with $200 for competing products.

Abacus Direct, a division of DoubleClick Inc. that has used Actuate for four years, plans to deploy Actuate 7 later this year or early in 2004. "The information object designer is what we're looking for," says James Peabody, lead software engineer. Peabody's department now creates reports for extracting information from the company's order-entry system. "That ties up our technology development staff," he says. He's counting on the new functionality in Actuate 7 to lighten that burden.

Actuate 7 also provides enhancements to the Actuate e.Spreadsheet Designer tool that make it easier to create spreadsheet reports. Actuate 7 will be generally available at the end of April priced, starting at $35,000 per CPU or $495 per named user.

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