StealthCFO is a provider of competitive intelligence services. The company was founded in 1999 to provide, via the Internet, a new concept in financial competitive intelligence (FCI) to corporate executives.

There is a wealth of company financial performance data available in the Internet space. However, the usability of the existing data for the purposes of the corporate executive is quite limited. The problems with existing systems, as far as executives might be concerned, are the following:

  1. Incomplete data.
  2. Inaccurate or inappropriate data (i.e., data that does not match corporate executives' knowledge or experience).
  3. Data that is so far out of date as to render it useless.
  4. Limited/nonexistent ability to use the data in a comparative fashion.
  5. Data overload (too much data, poor visual presentation, not pre-analyzed).
  6. Limited flexibility in how to process/display the information ­ the requirement that one design, construct and maintain one's own database in order to have any control over how the information is displayed.
  7. Analytical tools which do not display comprehensive information about a company or the competitive situation in which it exists (which is how an executive views the world and, therefore, is the format in which his need for information will manifest itself).
  8. A completely impersonal experience (i.e., not tailored to the individual needs and preferences of each executive).
  9. The length of time required between the need for the information and the actual generation.

We set out to provide a comprehensive set of analytical tools that would operate on complete and usable data, that would be flexible and user-customizable (personalized), and that would be available on demand, virtually instantly.
In order to provide such a comprehensive improvement in the FCI situation, we decided to organize around two fundamental activities: the design and construction of a fundamentally better database; and the design and construction of a new analytical tool set that would be customizable, available via the Internet and would integrate easily with the database solution. After a critical assessment of the tools available, software packages were selected which would be used to implement the solution. The online analytical processing (OLAP) database solution chosen was Hyperion's Essbase package. The obvious choice for the application environment itself was arcplan's dynaSight (obvious because, short of extensive code-level design in Java or other application languages, dynaSight is the only product which meets or exceeds all of our design criteria and is relatively easy to implement and use). User personalization preferences and system linkages are managed via Oracle.

One of the identified risks was that there were not a lot of arcplan programming experts (that we were aware of) in the community at large. This problem was further compounded by the difficulty in locating and recruiting software developers early in 1999. Our solution to this challenge was to develop the programming skills internally, choose capable personnel and develop them through training and trial-by-fire immersion in the programming activity.

As time passed though, the initial plan to develop arcplan programming skills in-house "from scratch" needed to be altered slightly. The object-oriented environment is easy to use for simple tasks; but in order to keep our aggressive development schedule and produce the intricate and powerful applications that we conceived, we needed to supplement our internal efforts with arcplan developers for the initial phase of the program. After that, however, our own staff was able to expand upon the design and take over all aspects of the design duties.

In the end, we were able to realize a complete product design that accomplished all of our objectives and provides the market a next-generation level of competitive intelligence capabilities. The impact that we feel the new tool (dubbed "stealthAdVANTAGE") will have on how executives will be able to manage and lead their organizations is measurable and very impressive. Executives will be able to quickly identify the information they need, view that information in an intuitive and meaningful way, and be confident that the information is both timely and accurate. This will allow them to direct all of their relevant operations and activities more proactively and quantitatively. We project that the results to their bottom line performance can and will be on the order of multiple percentage points. In today's competitive environment, we believe that this can provide a decisive competitive advantage to the astute executive.

As a leading vendor for integrated front- end solutions in the OLAP market, arcplan provides software and services for Web-based business intelligence solutions supporting a variety of back-end systems, ranging from ERP to any variety of RDBMS and OLAP data providers. arcplan's inSight (the development environment) and dynaSight (the platform for analytical applications) represent a very powerful and cost- effective analytical solution set that allows for the flexible querying, integration and graphical presentation of any kind of data.

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