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3/31/2003
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New Business-App Tools From Hyperion

A broad update of business applications could vault Hyperion beyond its financial-management niche.

Hyperion Solutions Corp. this week is updating its business-performance-management and Essbase XTD business-intelligence software. The company hopes to use the new releases, shipping this spring, to break out of its core financial-management niche and into operational reporting and analysis.

The upgrade is timely for Hyperion. New government-mandated reporting regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act are increasing demand for financial-management apps, says AMR Research analyst John Hagerty. And Hyperion's traditional customers--chief financial officers--have assumed greater management responsibility within many companies since the economy turned sour. "I think they're in a very good position right now," Hagerty says.

Release 3 of the management suite updates planning, financial-management, performance-scorecard, and business-modeling apps. They're designed to be more interoperable through the use of shared analysis tools and single-sign-on features. Business models created for departments and divisions can now be linked to create organizational models for whole companies.

The applications' financial-reporting and compliance capabilities have been enhanced with process controls that meet Sarbanes-Oxley reporting requirements. Also new is the ability to link financial data with supporting documentation, and analysis that provides an audit trail. Personalized scorecards and a customizable user interface are among improvements directed at individual users. And Hyperion's Financial Management app now has a software development kit.

Bell Canada International Inc. is a long-time user of Hyperion's Essbase, Planning, and Enterprise--the latter a financial-consolidation tool--for financial planning and analysis. The company plans to upgrade from release 2.1 of the software to the new version in mid-April, a move that will facilitate plans to implement an 18-month rolling financial-planning process, says Dan Fournier, associate director of financial planning project management. The ability for people to add their own financial details for strategic modeling tasks will also be key. "That's a huge, huge benefit," he says.

With the new release of Essbase XTD, people can simultaneously access and analyze operational data in both relational and multidimensional databases. The software also is more scalable than earlier versions, with new load-balancing, connection-pooling, fail-over, and clustering capabilities.

The new release of Essbase XTD is available now and the complete suite of apps will be available by July. Pricing depends on configuration and number of users, but generally starts around $60,000 for Essbase XTD, $65,000 for the individual applications, and $200,000 for the suite.

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