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Analyst Insight - anacubis Desktop

  • Carol Baroudi, Robin Bloor, Ben Littauer
  • March 01 2004, 1:00am EST

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a flexible, extensible, manipulatable model ought to be worth a million. Here's why.

Pictures talk to a different part of the brain than do words. Pictures are much faster; they enable us to see ­– which is different than thinking. When we see something, we often immediately know what to do. Thinking about things takes time. So it is with data. When we have data, we think about it. When we have lots of data, we have to think longer and harder, and it may not be possible to make sense of it. To actually understand data, we have to map it out – ­ somehow visualize relationships. We have to move from words to pictures. That's what anacubis Desktop does.

Visual Research and Analysis

There are different ways to visualize data, many of which are familiar to statisticians and data mining professionals. However, anacubis Desktop is not really a statistical tool or a data mining tool, it is a relationship visualization capability. anacubis Desktop takes data from structured databases and from text sources, if you wish to add them, and presents the data graphically as a set of relationships. The purpose of the software is to create intelligence from the data. For example, you could link anacubis Desktop to a database of movies and the actors that played in them, the directors, the producers and so on. You could then select a movie star, such as Kevin Bacon, and make him the hub of the anacubis Desktop visualization. The diagram would show links to the movies in which he played, actors he worked with, etc. If you wanted to broaden the area of data, you could perhaps point to a database of books about the cinema. anacubis Desktop could then illustrate which books have been written about Kevin Bacon or about the movies he played in. Of course, the natural area of application for anacubis Desktop is not in organizing such information, but in organizing business information.

A good example of this, and one where anacubis Desktop can provide very high value, is in mergers and acquisitions. In researching a company as a potential acquisition or merger partner, it is important to look at the company's relationships with suppliers and partners, the relationships and other positions held by its directors and its shareholders, among other things. In such a situation, anacubis Desktop provides an immediate visual insight into the company, which can be reorganized to reveal relationship information about all the important individuals, partners and products. If one's own company is added to the picture, potential synergies and conflicts of interest are quickly revealed. It becomes possible to assess the business prospects for mergers or acquisitions in a more informed way.

anacubis Desktop Partners

In order to analyze and process data, it needs to be provided along with an XML-based schema that anacubis Desktop understands. This does not involve a great amount of effort, and it is thus possible to feed data into anacubis Desktop from a company's own data resources. For the benefit of its customers, anacubis has already enabled anacubis Desktop access to a collection of general information sources that are likely to be frequently used. Thus, it has already established relationships with D&B, LexisNexis and Questel*Orbit, making an extensive amount of useful business information available for modeling and analysis. The company is currently securing partnerships with other subscription databases.

Staying in Step

anacubis Desktop enables its users to draw data from different sources, including their own, aggregate the data and reflect back the combined view. Extraneous parameters can be factored out to focus on exactly what is of interest. Users can experiment and fine-tune the display to reveal areas of interest that might not otherwise be apparent. The model can also be kept in step with information sources so that if information changes occur, they are absorbed into the model when it is refreshed. Thus, the model is not necessarily a one-shot affair, but a live information set that can be kept current and examined when desired. In our example of a merger or acquisition, customer information from both companies might be added to evaluate customer synergies. If the potential acquisition itself makes an acquisition, the model can be recast to demonstrate how the situation has changed. If intellectual property issues need to be considered, then you can get a view of the combined intellectual property of both companies by adding information from Questel*Orbit.

While we have used high-level examples to explain the anacubis Desktop functionality, the product can be used to explicitly illustrate relationships in any set of related data. It can be used in marketing, sales, product research and many other areas.

anacubis Desktop provides a unique information analysis capability that can genuinely claim to be "knowledge engineering." It has great potential for making sense of data through the visualization of relationships, enabling quicker and better-informed decision making at every level.

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