Turning data into information for taking actions and making decisions has bedeviled businesses throughout the computer age. Many organizations have data in dozens of applications and legacy systems along with many reports in various business intelligence systems. The challenge is to get data from each of the reports and assemble it into contextualized views of information for particular business needs. In our benchmark research on what we call information applications, only 11 percent of organizations said they are satisfied with their existing efforts to do this; more than half of organizations see the current process as too slow and not adaptable to the changes that necessarily occur in assembling actionable information.
Against this background I have been reviewing the efforts of Datawatch, which provides capabilities to gain access to data transparently from reports and other information generated in common formats such as Adobe Acrobat, HTML and XML from existing ERP, CRM and other applications and legacy systems. Its products also can process Microsoft Office documents including Microsoft Excel and spreadsheets, which is the technology most commonly used for business analytics and for business intelligence, according to our benchmark research on those topics. Helping organizations reduce the copy and paste activity and provide consistency of information is essential for improving the quality of information used across the enterprise. Instead of focusing on data integration and movement of data to a centralized database, Datawatch provides the ability to access data that has already been generated such as from transactional systems and applications. Our recent research in information applications found that leveraging reports from BI systems is important to 57 percent of organizations and getting to the data from source ERP, CRM and other applications is important to 71 percent. This ability to harvest existing reports and information that has already been created not only enables companies to utilize existing investments but also reduces the time it takes to get to information that people know already exists.
Datawatch is known for this capability in its Monarch platform and with a customer base of forty thousand users around the world since its original release from more than a decade ago, which generates a consistent view of information from any format of data or report. Datawatch has continued to refine its ability to dynamically integrate data from reports and output from across the enterprise into a common report, dashboard or application. Its current platform and set of tools called Monarch Enterprise Server can customize the output and generate information applications from it. The company recently announced a new release of the server that provides more flexibility for the business user and assembler of information to navigate among sources and interact. New capabilities for administration and storage of the actual reports allow easier access to the source data. The new release also addresses the top two vendor and product considerations for purchasers identified in our benchmark research in information applications: usability and reliability. Datawatch also has been making it easier to apply analytics to the data its tools bring together, which should be attractive to users in the lines of business and vertical industries. If Datawatch adds mobile access from smartphones and tablet computers and perhaps makes its products available through cloud computing, it could find even more new customers.
Datawatch also provides a document management system called Datawatch Business Document Server (BDS) that can help organizations maintain a repository of source data for downstream information needs. Datawatch BDS also provides the ability to provide notification, workflow, email archiving and records management that can help manage the information life cycle from storage and retention to overall governance through policy management. Datawatch also recently released a new version of this technology that adds operating system support for Red Hat Linux and deeper security for data across enterprise deployments; it also expands support for language translation along with report and document redaction.
A public company, Datawatch recently announced that it has appointed a new CEO, Michael Morrison, who is a veteran of many successful companies in the information and analytics domains including IBM, Applix and Cognos. This executive change is important as the company has not grown significantly in recent years and was not often mentioned in the industry and buyer dialogue about information management and business intelligence or the emerging market in business analytics. Morrison already has begun to simplify the company’s marketing and sales processes and is focusing on additional types of buyers. Though Datawatch does not compete directly in terms of functionality with BI technologies, it does compete in the larger buying agenda to improve information accessibility in the enterprise. If the company can gain recognition as a harvester of existing investments in applications and systems by capturing and utilizing data in them, it could increase in size and recognition.
Datawatch’s customers range from the Fortune 500 to the midsize. It is looking to expand by touting a faster, more cost-effective method of increased benefit from existing systems, including business intelligence systems and reporting tools. Now it has to make it easier for enterprises on both the IT and business sides to see how Monarch Enterprise Server can be the platform they need for rapid assembly of information for any line of business’s requirements. Our business analytics benchmark revealed that in the analytics processes people spend 69 percent of their time waiting for, preparing and reviewing data rather than actually analyzing it. We also found that the capability analysts in more than half of organizations need most for business analytics is sourcing data. This suggests that Datawatch could play a valuable role in addressing the accessibility and time pressures for supporting business analytics. It might find a niche in business analytics initiatives by filling the business technology gap in rapidly assembling information applications.
Mark Smith – CEO & EVP Research