Progress Software has announced Progress EasyAsk for Operational Business
Intelligence (BI) 11.0. With EasyAsk for Operational BI 11.0, enhanced data
analysis capabilities can be delivered from a single user interface that
combines natural language ad hoc querying and analysis with the ability to
search for existing reports by simply typing questions into a single search
box, which immediately delivers results.

These capabilities make business intelligence more pervasive across and
beyond the enterprise because business users can use the product with little
or no learning curve – much like using a Web search engine.This new EasyAsk
release also offers customisable dashboards to enhance visualisation.
"EasyAsk has been a spectacular success in South Africa since we launched it
a year ago," says Corey Springett, strategic business manager at Progress
Software South Africa. "We have gained more new end-user companies with
EasyAsk than any of our other products in a comparable timeframe. We expect
it to continue selling well given the demands of corporate South Africa for
easily accessible, value-added information."
Dan Vesset, programme VP, Business Analytics research at IDC, comments:
"Achieving pervasive business intelligence requires several organisational,
process and technology capabilities. A key characteristic of the latter is
easy access to information, contextual presentation of information through
various interfaces, including dashboards and reports, and guided analytics.
The latest EasyAsk release extends the product's capabilities from natural
language query or search-like information access to guided and ad hoc
analytics, assisting end-users in collaborative data analysis and subsequent
decision-making across any business function."
With EasyAsk for Operational BI 11.0, users can ask the system questions as
they would a person. For example, "Show me the growth in sales of widgets
for each customer from last year to this year," would receive an immediate
response plus links to existing relevant reports in a single view. This
information can then be saved and shared among colleagues as a dynamic or
static report, enhancing collaboration across the enterprise.
Alta Cornelissen, manager, Business Excellence for Europ Assistance, says:
"EasyAsk for Operational BI has saved our company countless man hours by
allowing us to easily create savable and searchable reports rather than
re-creating the query each time information is needed. Because the reports
can be saved as graphs or charts, it is easy to share the information and
track changes in the data."
To help employees monitor the status of critical information, EasyAsk for
Operational BI 11.0 includes customisable desktop dashboards that allow
users to determine the information they wish to monitor on a regular basis.
Constant updates prompt users to analyse the data further by conducting
follow-on ad hoc queries. With the ability to delve deeper into data when
potential issues are raised, employees can resolve them faster and make a
greater impact on business.
While users are typing their questions, EasyAsk for Operational BI 11.0
automatically suggests questions related to the query and the data
available. The result is that users receive intuitive guidance into the
content of the underlying data that otherwise might be unknown to them. The
suggested questions also help uncoverrecently asked questions by other users
that are specific to the words the current user is typing.
Dr Larry Harris, VP and GM of Progress EasyAsk, notes: "According to
research from The Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI), only 20% of an
organisation's employees have access to business intelligence. EasyAsk for
Operational BI 11.0 helps organisations make business intelligence more
accessible and delivers it to the other 80%. Our software is specifically
designed to place easy to use, powerful BI capabilities in the hands of
business users so they can act on the data, make better decisions, and drive
the business forward."