Datawatch Monarch Professional Offers Data Mining for Businesses on a Budget

REVIEW: Businesses can't take advantage of all the data they collect. Datawatch Monarch Professional offers companies on a budget a way to mine that data and put it to use.

Companies of all sizes are starting to appreciate the value of archived and historical data, yet accessing and analyzing that data has proven to be a challenge. Datawatch Monarch Professional brings analytical capabilities to those data sets, while meeting the needs of businesses that cannot afford expensive, time-consuming business intelligence solutions, "big data" platforms and enterprise data mining products. What's more, Datawatch Monarch Professional can also work hand-in-hand with those other analytical platforms to bring more value to the data analytics process.

The benefits offered by Monarch Professional are numerous and can be leveraged across multiple business segments. For example, the product can be used to scour data from previously generated reports to identify trends for marketing purposes. Auditors could choose to use the product to look for statistical anomalies across several archival data stores. The potential for an analytical platform that supports both structured and semi-structured data is almost unlimited; it all comes down to experimentation and manipulation of the data and then applying analytics to uncover value. This is more art than science. However, artist and scientist alike can turn to the impressive toolset offered by Monarch Professional to analyze scores of data sets.

A Closer Look at Monarch Professional V11

Monarch Professional is available in the single-user standalone version, called Monarch Professional version 11, and as the design tool for the server-based product, Monarch Enterprise. Monarch Enterprise is for companies that require multiple users to share analytics across an organization, while meeting IT security and data-governance requirements.

I took a look at Monarch Professional Version 11, and put it through its paces to find out what type of value Datawatch's analytical engine offers. First and foremost, I found the product easy to install and configure. The single-user version installs on your Microsoft Windows desktop (Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2003/2008) with little fuss or muss, making it easy to get started with analyzing data.

The more complicated aspect of the software is figuring out what exactly you want to look at. While that is more of a user-focused concern, and not really an assessment of the software itself, it is indicative of how powerful the product actually is.

Simply put, Monarch Professional V11 is a data-analytics tool that is used to gather information from multiple internal and external sources so the user can identify trends and make informed decisions using data that was previously inaccessible. It is the ability to gather information from multiple sources that can make the product complicated to use. Again, this is not an indication of any design flaws; it is just an observation that with so much data available to the typical user, separating the wheat from the chaff can be a challenging process. If I was pressed to come up with a definition of the product, I would classify it as one part data extraction tool, one part analytical engine, one part data transformation and one part report generator-a nice formula that defines a product that brings creativity to the data-visualization process. For situations where critical decisions must be data-driven, Monarch Professional is a must-have tool.

Out of the box, Monarch Professional can work with multiple types of reports. For example, the product can scour through PDF, XML, HTML, text, spool files, ASCII files and many others. With the product's report-centric focus, you simply gather up electronic versions of reports, whether these documents are invoices, balance sheets, inventory lists, logs or spread sheets. You are then able to quickly select what files you want to work with and how you want to handle them. Applying user-defined "filters" allows the user to narrow the views to only data immediately needed.

That means the user can work with structured and semi-structured data. What's more, if you want to analyze the content of a large database, you can just dump all the data to an ASCII report and have at it-a methodology that eliminates the need to integrate Monarch Professional with databases (although integration is simple and only takes a few mouse clicks), or risk downtime while running complex analytics. By focusing on report output, Monarch Professional allows analytics to take place at any time, all without disrupting operations or impacting network performance. The product also offers a database connector, which allows users to grab information directly from SQL databases, as well as from Microsoft Access or Excel.