Lawson Software has made its first foray into the performance measurement market with Insight II for value based analysis.
The applications supplier has introduced a socalled Strategic Ledger at the heart of product, which integrates general ledger and activity based management applications to provide a complete package for realtime financial analysis, reporting and strategic planning.
Strategic Ledger integrates with the general ledger application at the transaction level, but stores relationships between ledgers in Lawson?s Active Object Repository, creating a database that functions as an intelligent data warehouse.
But because the offering uses memory to store the required information rather than performing disk based searches, users can access the financial and operational information necessary to perform analyses without slowing down their general ledger transactions
According to Lawson, this opens the way for providing value based measurements to interested parties.
But when asked whether the company was merely following a fashionable trend in the enterprise application market, Brian Sommer, a partner with Andersen Consulting, said: "The pressure from stockholder activists and Wall Street on CFO?s is enormous. They badly need value based systems to respond to the demands placed on them."
As a result, different interest groups are demanding information that goes well beyond traditional profit and return on investment measures. "I?ve seen some of these guys getting their heads handed back to them on a plate because they haven?t got the information stakeholders demand," he said.
Sommer also explained that until very recently, most applications did not provide the necessary functionality to take activity based management into the general financial applications market.
But Lawson has carved out significant niches in healthcare and retailing, and has just entered the financial services market, and Sommer thought Insight could have some relevance there.
"Retailers are being clobbered with severe price pressures. Having an activity based method like this will help those customers," he said.
Despite its success in the US, however, Lawson has not made the impact it would like in international markets, largely because the healthcare sector is not as well developed outside of the US, and European stockholders do not have the same aggressive litigation rights as the US.
Joel Jorgenson, Lawson?s director of global financial products, said he hoped the new release would change customers? perception of the company in international markets.
"We?re continuing to roll this into European offices and we see application across all our markets," he claimed.
Insight II is currently available under Unix and Microsoft?s Windows NT and an AS/400 port is due by the end of the year.
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