Eureka gives business powerful new web tool
LIKE most good ideas, this one is brilliantly simple and effective. Use the World Wide Web to get critical business information from sources within a company and from anywhere in the world over the Internet. And do it automatically as often as necessary. That is the concept behind Eureka, the world's first business intelligence web portal.
According to research house International Data Corporation (IDC), there are 39.7-million business people using the web and this is expected to grow to 166.8-million in 2002.
Technologies like Eureka could expand the current business intelligence marketplace by $3.97-billion.
Eureka works in much the same way as customised Internet portal sites like those provided by search engine companies. MyYahoo or Excite are examples but Eureka is different - it is specifically aimed at business people.
Users can get a personalised view of company information by configuring the system to send them the desired information - either from within the company itself or from sources on the web. They can also explore and analyse corporate databases to make better business decisions faster.
"For example, an executive, or other user, may want to be informed every time a sale of more than R5 000 is made," says Mike Kraus, divisional manager of decision information at Global Technology. "As soon as that sale is entered anywhere on the system, he is alerted."
Kraus adds that information about competitive products published on the web can also be flagged and sent to the user, as well as details on share prices.
Eureka can pick up information from any data source and is capable of handling text, video and audio if necessary. The user picks from a range of possible services and the information is then pushed to that person automatically. It is an enterprise-wide solution which means that it will collect data from any computer within an organisation linked to the network.
"Right now there is too much information for executives to absorb easily," says Keith Patterson, product manager at Global Technology.
"The Eureka system puts triggers on the information business users need and gets it to them quickly. It also uses the web interface, which is familiar to most business people, so no training is required in order to use it.
"At a cost of about R600 per user, it is a cheap and efficient way to give them instant decision-making power."
One interesting application for the system can be found in the insurance business. For example, the portal could be used to notify an insurance agent that possible excessive claims are being made by a regional car repair centre.
Before confronting the shop, the agent can use the system to view a report showing a summary list of all recent claims submitted from the shop, as well as a live report comparing claims from a variety of shops. He can then drill down to view similar claims as well as photos of damaged vehicles repaired by the shop.
If the agent's suspicions are confirmed or he is still in doubt, he could compare findings with other agents to see if they have also suspected fraud, or alert them to watch claims from the shop for fraud.
"Our vision is to deploy business intelligence to every business decision maker in South Africa," says Kraus.
"Every day millions of consumers rely on Internet portals such as Yahoo to efficiently gather and use information from the overwhelming amount of different public data sources.
"Systems like Eureka can make the search so much easier in the business environment."
The Eureka system comprises several different components. MyEureka enables users to gather, receive and organise, visualise and explore business intelligence information and collaborate with colleagues.
EurekaServer is a suite of web-based services that lets a company create a secure, robust no-training required business intelligence web portal to help large numbers of users to make important business decisions.
EurekaWorkbench includes tools for installing, configuring, monitoring and tuning MyEureka and EurekaServer.
Web portals like Eureka represent a significant new trend in content management for companies by making information more easily available. Unlike other web authoring and management technologies, portals can reach all decision makers with a simple interface to all their corporate data sources, and then allow users to upgrade and fine tune the system's delivery mechanism when ready.