NQuire Looks to Provide More Answers

FRAMINGHAM (06/22/2000) - For customers wanting to supply end users with access to raw data without the hassle of installing complex analytical tools, nQuire Software Inc. may have an answer.

Users can pose questions in English to Version 2.0 of the nQuire Suite and receive relevant corporate data culled from a variety of back-end data sources.

The software is intended for users who don't have the skills to work with more complicated online analytical processing tools.

NQuire looks at its technology as an "Ask Jeeves" for corporate data, says President and CEO Lawrence Barbetta. A user can enter a question such as, "What were sales in the eastern region for the first quarter?" and get the requested data in table format.

"The tool, in part, is meant for users who are not experts in the underpinning technology of databases and the like," says Bob Moran, vice president of research and managing director at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston. "[Users] have to be able to ask questions of the database in the language [they] use in everyday business. [They] don't want to have to think in Boolean algebra."

NQuire is server-based software that provides access to multiple back-end data sources, including relational databases, data warehouses, enterprise resource planning systems and external files. In Version 2.0, announced this week, nQuire is adding support for XML data sources and host-based data systems. The software runs on Windows NT and 2000 servers and comes with a variety of native drivers to access back-end sources. The Suite contains its own analytical engine for aggregating data and making calculations on the fly.

Moran says it's important for nQuire to support legacy systems because they are still a large part of many companies and are not going away any time soon. The addition of XML also provides access to newer data stores such as online marketplaces.

Query results can come in the form of tables created on the fly from any one of the connected data sources, Barbetta says. NQuire uses caching techniques for some queries to help improve performance. "All the results are based on live data and not some batch report generated at midnight," Barbetta says.

Results are usually returned in table form via a browser, with links users can click on to drill down into their data to investigate further.

Pricing starts at $125,000 to buy the nQuire Suite or $8,000 per month for a subscription-based service.

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