Hyperion does a Google in business performance

Wouldn't it be nice if you could just type in a word search to grab hold of last year's quarterly report, rather than having to scroll through a series of tiny folders on your computer screen?

Hyperion Solutions, a business intelligence (BI) software maker, thinks so too. That's why it's lifting a page off Google and adding business word search features to a tweaked version of its System 9 BI+ product.

"When people want to find things in Google, they just type in key words on a Search bar. We see no reason why you shouldn't be able to do the same when you want to find key reports in your BPM (business performance management) system," said Nick Dearden, director of software engineering at Hyperion.

While they're at it, Hyperion engineers are also adding an Amazon.com-type page link feature to their lead BI software in a bid to make it "more user-friendly."

The feature will emulate an online shopping Web site by offering links to pages related to the one you are currently looking at. For instance, if you're already viewing your business's sales chart, the bottom of the page may offer links to related topics or categories such as sales by region, or sales by individual.

Hyperion is not the first to come up with the word search idea for a BPM application.

Last week, Google itself rolled out its OneBox for Enterprise. The product makes it possible for users to search for information - such as contact and calendar details, business records, and human resources data - through a Google search box.

Google developed OneBox with other software firms such as SAS Institute, Cognos, NetSuite, Oracle, and Cisco Systems.

Google said OneBox "gives corporations secure access to information in any application [within] the enterprise from the convenience of a Google search box."

Hyperion engineers are testing other features for possible deployment sometime later this year on System 9 BI+ as part of a research and development program dubbed Project 21.

The key driver for these new offerings is the need to increase BPM adoption across enterprise users, said Ranvir Wadera, vice-president for performance measurement and tools at Hyperion.

Wadera said Hyperion discovered that only 25 to 30 percent of employees in firms with BPM tools use them, as the rest don't understand how such tools work.

Project 21 will also investigate the viability of what it calls "default visualization".

With this feature, users can "drag" data from any source and simply "drop" it into a System 9 template. The data will immediately conform to a pre-set image of the template that the user chose.

"With this feature a consistent corporate image is assured. There is also no need for users to work from scratch to create tables or charts that conform to their corporate style," Dearden said.

With another feature called "template query" the users to preview how the template will look before dropping the data in.

Ranvir said feedback from customers trying out features Hyperion is set to release "has been very positive."

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