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Monarch triumphs over anarchy

Extracting individual facts

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The traditional way to provide end-users with appropriate business intelligence is, to begin with, through the standard reports that are produced by ERP and other corporate applications. However, the information that is in these reports is static, or 'frozen', on the printed page. Additionally, data required for a particular purpose tends to be hidden in large reports or worse, scattered across multiple reports. Moreover, it is frequently the case that there may be only a few nuggets of information that you require from any one report, and given that individual reports may be very large, it may be difficult to find what you need to know.

So, you need to be able to extract individual facts from one report, or multiple iterations of a report, alone or in combination with data from other sources. Datawatch, through its Monarch product, provides the ability to do this without any programming and without any of the dangers of re-keying information into spreadsheets. Further, and this is a significant advantage, Monarch understands and exploits the business rules that are built into existing reporting applications. Free-standing report development, on the other hand, would have to re-create these rules.

The way that Monarch works is based on the fact that when any ERP, banking, healthcare or other report is produced, it is written to a print or spool file. Put simply, what Monarch does is to read these print files (which can be from any source - mainframe, UNIX, Linux, desktop, and so forth) extract the data (and metadata) from them, and then allow you to combine and manipulate that data into a format that suits you. The big news in the latest release (8.0, which was announced just before Easter) is that Monarch can now read pdf documents as well and extract the information contained in any reports using this format.

In practice, what you do with Monarch is that you start by telling Monarch what information you are interested in within the print files that it is processing and then you can apply filters, sort, do calculations and so on. Note that this is done without any programming (as is the whole of the Monarch environment) by means of dialogue boxes. I won't go into the details here but suffice it to say that the options are extensive.

Apart from the pdf support, the other main features of this release are support for user-edited fields (for notes and so forth - you cannot amend the source data), the provision of a full audit trail, extensions for those customers that use the product for non-reporting purposes (for example, EDI), a report tree view and various functional enhancements.

Perhaps the most interesting fact about Monarch is nothing to do with the product per se. When I last looked at it (version 7.0) the product was mainly being sold at departmental level. However, the company now reports that it is gaining significant traction for enterprise-wide deployment, because it quickly resolves a problem that many users have and requires minimal IT resource, both of which are attractive features to hard-pressed IT managers and CIOs.

Copyright © 2005, IT-Director.com

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