Datawatch Monarch Professional Offers Data Mining for Businesses on a Budget - Page 2

For my tests, I dumped a large SQL database of pseudo-sales information into an ASCII file, using a simple report-generator. I also grabbed some sales content stored in PDF files, as well as some log files from an online store application (a shopping cart). Finally, I included a few other data files related to the sales process that a typical small-sales Website might have.

The idea here was to use Monarch Professional to uncover some sales trends that could be beneficial to a company looking to enhance marketing plans or try something different. My example has a relatively narrow focus, and potential users shouldn't try to pigeonhole Monarch Professional into only one scenario. The product is powerful enough to handle many types of analytics and data extraction.

Ultimately, the goal here was to demonstrate how Monarch Professional can allow a user to view, print, analyze, extract and transform data from existing files. The product works by examining reports and then creating a soft copy of the report that can be visualized on-screen. This basically provides automated intelligence to give reports a data structure, which can then be viewed, manipulated or even exported out to Microsoft Excel or other applications.

In practice, using Monarch Professional is a straightforward and easy-to-learn process. Users create a template, which offers instructions on how to extract the data out of an existing report and then transforms that data into a visual representation. This allows the users to manipulate the data. Once a template is created, it can be stored in a model file, which allows the template to be applied to future reports. There are several options available when building templates, which help users create a workable structure around unformatted data. Ideally, users can associate the header of a report with field names and then target the actual data on the report - transforming the original report into workable data that can be linked to other files or used to look up additional data from an external source, such as a SQL database. External data can be incorporated by using real-time lookups or via importation.

It just depends on how you want to work with your data.

Once a template is applied against a data set, Monarch delivers a visual representation of the data in a tabular format. Users can then apply algorithms using a data-extraction wizard to the newly created data set. The application offers more than 60 functional commands to work with the raw imported data set to create output that makes sense. The function set proves to be very familiar to users that have worked with spreadsheets and Boolean logic commands. In addition, calculations are included in the function set, allowing users to create some very complex scripts that offer algorithmic behavior.

Working with the included wizards and definition tools proves quite easy, and I found myself spending more time thinking about how to work with my data than actually defining filters, traps and calculations. While that may sound like a bad thing, in actuality it is a good sign that Monarch Professional can deal with almost any idea that you can come up with on how to mine and transform data.

For example, I created a data set that filtered out customers by a specific geographical area and then set a date range to see what was purchased. I was able to further engineer my transformation logic to tie those purchases with specific categories of products that were related to a seasonal quarter. From my data set, I was able to determine that people in Vermont buy snow skis a month earlier than those in Massachusetts-information that I could use to build off-season sales incentives to get late-season buyers to purchase skis earlier in the season.

Of course, that is only one narrow example of how Monarch Professional can be used. The product's flexibility creates an almost unlimited number of scenarios. The product's biggest strength comes from the way it helps people to think about data differently and to see the value in archival data, especially historical reports. That is a major accomplishment since many business operators struggle with the cost of storing data and find elements such as compliance-driven archiving a burden. Monarch Professional brings value to that data, and makes it much easier for IT to justify the need to store historical data.

What's more, it offers value directly to IT. The product can be used to formulate conclusions from data logs, participate in the auditing process, check against compliance requirements and so forth.

While Monarch Professional may not have the power of very expensive analytical platforms driven by big data systems, it does bring the ideology of business intelligence and analytics to companies that want a lot of data analytical power for a relatively small investment.

With Monarch Professional, even the smallest data sets can offer additional information and at the very least, it offers an intuitive way to create custom output from canned, closed systems-where data can be gathered from static reports and combined with external resources to create information that is actionable by most any business.

In short, Datawatch Monarch Professional V11 will prove to be the perfect tool for those individuals or workgroups looking to make better decisions using automated analytics without incurring the enormous investment in traditional business intelligence systems.