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Taking the mystery out of data

Business Objects wants to make it easier for people other than heads-down users to take advantage of its analytical tools.

Business Objects wants to make it easier for people other than heads-down users to take advantage of its analytical tools.

The company is offering the latest version of its flagship product with enhancements aimed at users with limited knowledge of database technicalities.

"We have improved the ease of use of BusinessObjects 5.0 by making things people want do to on a regular basis much easier to do," said Ceferino Lamb, product marketing manager at Business Objects. "Since anyone can read reports, then they are able to from that point march up what we call the 'escalator.' They start reading reports but, since it is easy to modify, they might start modifying it to their liking or dig deeper."

BusinessObjects Version 5.0 introduces the firm's analytical-reporting concept, which integrates enterprise reporting functions such as report distribution and management, with traditional decision support system functions. This includes such tasks as ad-hoc access to corporate data, report creation, and in-depth online analyses.

Among the other enhancements are drag-and-drop capabilities and a new "OLAP dimension bar" that allows users to more easily track where they are in a report and how far down they have drilled.

A conditional formatting feature lets users add information to reports based on certain situations. For example, customer invoices could automatically be generated with past due notices printed on those more than 30 days old.

Business Objects has also added features that shield users from daunting technicalities of the database. It automatically translates business terms like "revenue" into the correct database query format when reports are created.

The product goes into beta testing next week and is scheduled for general release the first quarter of next year. Pricing has not been set yet.

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