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Oracle expands data analysis

Oracle wants to turn the power of analytical tools over to more than heads-down financial and sales analysts in corporations.

Oracle wants to turn the power of analytical tools over to more than heads-down financial and sales analysts in corporations.

Oracle Financial Analyzer Version 6.2 and Oracle Sales Analyzer 6.2 are to be released this week. Running on Oracle's Express online analytical processing (OLAP) server, the tools include features that allow them to be accessed through a Web browser, so that users anywhere in a company with permission can access the information locked in corporate data warehouses.

The tools are primarily designed to let financial and sales departments better understand the stories behind the data their organizations collect in massive data warehouses. The analyzers allow users to slice and dice data and drill down into details to plan for variations in sales cycles or financial periods.

Oracle is hoping companies will want to let more departments access that information.

"Successful companies recognize the strategic advantages of extending decision support capabilities to more users," said Gary Bloom, executive vice president of Oracle's system products division. "This democratization of business intelligence requires applications robust enough to deliver immediate benefits but flexible enough to support a broad range of user needs."

Oracle's new financial analysis tool includes support for spreadsheet programs so that a user can make queries and update information from common spreadsheet programs. It also includes a new data collection toolkit, which allows users to build and distribute data entry templates in a spreadsheet-based environment.

The new analyzer is also designed to integrate with Oracle's financial applications including the general ledger module. The integration is part of Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison's vision to make the various divisions of his company work together so that each leverages the strengths of the other.

Oracle's new sales analysis tool includes wizards or programs that guide users on how to use the tool. One wizard for the forecasting module helps users create projections based on historical data. Another one helps users customize calculations.

The product also comes with new Java components to allow companies to distribute sales and marketing analysis over a corporate intranet to authorized users. It also comes with predefined Web reports and is integrated with Oracle Express Objects 2.2. Express Objects is a graphical, object-oriented development tool for building custom OLAP applications.

Both analytical tools are available immediately for Windows 95 and NT 4.0. Supported server platforms include HP-UX, AIX, Solaris, and Windows NT 4.0. Pricing varies.