E-business reporting software that takes data stored in large and diverse databases, and then transforms it into meaningful, web-accessible reports, is the ambit of Actuate.
Actuate, which recently launched its Australian business, is already doing business with Australia Post.
According to Osman Tounjel, Actuate's Asia-Pacific regional director, the e-business reporting software can extract data from all of an organisation's databases, including old legacy systems, and publish reports in browser format which are accessible over the web without plug-ins.
Depending on the context, such reports can be for internal or external use. The data can then be used in applications as varied as banking, finance, insurance, government departments, brokerages, telcos, software vendors and more.
Acuate's overseas customer base includes household names such as American Express, Chase Manhattan Bank, MCI WorldCom, and Merrill Lynch.
The $US50,000 (per CPU) software is said to run on virtually any Unix-based hardware.
Actuate showed one example of the software in enabling bank customers to view their statements online. First the bank sends a "headline" - a short message - to a large number of customers, advising them that their monthly statement is ready. It includes a URL through which the customer can access those pages - and only those pages - which apply to them.
In both parts of the operation, the computing overheads and required bandwidth are low. For hard copies, the customers themselves can print out just what they need. The potential cost savings in postage and printing seem clear.
Further, such statements are what Tounjel calls "live reports". To find out more about a reported transaction, the customer only has to click on it. Users can customise the data to be retrieved by clicking on a number of hyperlinks before a search.
Actuate's use of XML can remove another administrative layer as well. Invoices and purchase orders can be generated, XML-encoded, and transmitted directly to the buyer's or vendor's accounting system without anything being printed on paper.