"What I enjoy most about my role is the challenge of trying to drive an operational business in the current marketplace and still shape it for a greater future opportunity," states Robert A. Thompson, QueryObject Systems Corporation chairman and chief executive officer.
That future opportunity defines QueryObject Systems Corporation, its subsidiaries and product focus. "I think the best way to explain our company," says Thompson, "is to recognize that we are earning our living as an important piece of the business intelligence universe, but we are shaping our technology for a world that we believe is looming and significantly larger than business intelligence."
"This industry is currently in transition away from business intelligence as we know it into a true information economy. Most business analysts agree that we're relentlessly moving forward into a new economic cycle, where the role and economic value of information will be far greater than it has been in the past, and the Internet will be its backbone. Business intelligence companies that grew up in the client/server arena view the Internet as a great vehicle for report distribution. We look at it quite differently. Our model says that rather than just distributing the reports, why not take components of that analytical data and actually distribute the raw data so that it can be analyzed on a distributed basis. While other companies are focusing on distributing reports over the Internet, we're focusing on preparing and distributing the data," explains Thompson.
"In a nutshell, our core engineering is driven to develop the optimized data structure for free-flowing distribution of business information in an Internet environment," continues Thompson. "When we acquired the technology of CrossZ Software a little more than two years ago, we began focusing on turning the CrossZ consulting tools into a set of Internet-optimized products. I joined the company as vice president of marketing in the last quarter of 1997 when the company was still operating as CrossZ Software. My responsibility was the product strategy and marketing position which led to the corporate relaunch as QueryObject Systems Corporation a few months later. Product direction was very much a collaboration between Matthew Doering, our chief technology officer, and myself. Interestingly, he came out of the business intelligence industry from the data back-end view (Metaphor) and I came with an analytical front-end view (Cognos). The two of us had some interesting early stage discussions until we realized that we were in sync just approaching the same problem from two different directions. Matt's commitment to the preparation of data management and my commitment to the ultimate end user has really synergized the strategy we have today," explains Thompson.
"The QueryObject System is relentlessly an analytical environment. You can't run transactions on it it wasn't designed for that. It was designed to manage information for the most efficient analysis," says Thompson. Query-Objects are essentially compact, highly distributable data marts. The difference, however, between a QueryObject and a traditional data mart is that the QueryObject is optimized for data access, distribution over the Internet and architected for Internet data analysis. Key advantages of this data structure include scalability, speed, portability, system openness and privacy protection. Because of the openness of the system, analysis of QueryObject data can be accomplished using any industry-standard business intelligence tool. Addition- ally, the QueryObject-based data mart can contain many times more information than traditional products, without sacrificing performance, says Thompson.
"The analytical applications today do not contain the high-demand, broadly distributed user communities that we believe will be required in the near future," explains Thompson. "But as we move into the information economy, the ability to manage and efficiently distribute analytical data and the ability to take data from a number of sources and merge it into unique data sets at the point of analysis is, we believe, a key infrastructure component. In no other way could you efficiently deal with scale and expansion. That's where our ambition lies. We are a business intelligence company dedicated to helping organizations scale up their business intelligence systems to meet the demands of the new economy. The core strengths of our technology allow us to provide scalibility benefits to traditional systems, but our development is directed at pushing that analytical process away from a centralized core out to boundaries of organizations where ultimately the decision-making process takes place. Business intelligence was designed to provide a defined class of users with access to defined sets of data typically within an organization, typically using an analytical tool provided by the organization and typically serving a predefined analytical need. Going forward, it will be a much more ad hoc world where businesses will require the ability to spontaneously make an important piece of behavioral data available to business partners, business associates and allied companies where there is no preexisting infrastructure planning. Additionally, the organization making the data available may not necessarily know how it is going to be used. A business partner may use Cognos, an associate may have BusinessObjects, and an allied company may use the data in an Excel spreadsheet or a custom application. The ability to enable universal access to the same data without any usage predetermination will become business critical," emphasizes Thompson.
"To our customers, we are a business intelligence company providing the ability to scale up their business intelligence systems and extend their reach over the Internet. The Query-Object System is very effective for those purposes. But, to our investors, we are more; we are an emerging infrastructure component for the information economy.
QueryObject Systems Corporation is actually a family of companies a start-up incubating other start-ups.
"We have two subsidiaries today. The first is internetQueryObject Corporation, which was funded last April. iQO's mission is to build a series of analytical applications on top of the QueryObject technology in the customer relationship management (CRM) space. Its first application is focusing on taking CRM data and adding an Internet distribution layer. Rather than providing only a few people in a central marketing department with the ability to analyze a campaign, this distribution layer enables the company to push the information out to partners or suppliers to effectively extend the decision-making boundaries of their organization. We're not replacing other CRM tools we're putting an analytical distribution layer on top of those environments to suit the new economy organization model," states Thompson.
"The second subsidiary, doing business as QOxchange, is a brand new company focusing on building the application infrastructure around the QueryObject technology for the merchandising of syndicated data. Today, most business data is still delivered through the old subscription service model. As a result, that data is available only to a limited number of companies who can afford to do business that way. By facilitating an efficient online merchandising strategy, we believe that same data can be available to a broader market. In parallel with that, it is important to recognize that the concept of what constitutes 'marketable' business data is also evolving," says Thompson. "In a B2B exchange model there is an ability for organizations to view reselling or the brokering of components of their business data as a very exciting additional income stream. Because the QueryObject System does not distribute granular level details such as people's names and addresses, but rather behavioral profiles, this is information that can be exchanged without violating consumer privacy and without giving away the secrets of the customer list."
"I believe that QueryObject Systems will grow very effectively by running a number of semi-autonomous, entrepreneurial units. That's the business model for the future. I have an obligation to my shareholders to focus on the success of the technology company in which they've invested. To use our technology company capital to start a parallel product area could have negatively impacted our ability to grow the core business. Instead, we plan to retain a majority interest in a series of separately funded subsidiaries. This allows us to finance, manage and grow them at their own pace and allows them to flourish independent of each other, but still benefit collectively in a higher valuation. Our goal is that these subsidiaries will be successful in their own right and will contribute to QueryObject Systems in terms of equity growth, product royalties and overall QueryObject brand awareness," states Thompson.
Robert Thompson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of QueryObject Systems Corporation
While some may tire of the fast pace of chasing after the elusive information economy, Thompson clearly thrives in this environment. "At QueryObjects, I have one of the most exciting management teams that I've ever worked with," says Thompson. "We have a great chief financial officer perfect for running our stage of public company. We have a CTO that is absolutely the right foil for a marketing guy like me. We have a marketing director who I believe understands the big picture as well as the tactical implementation level. In our subsidiaries, we have top managers who are complete entrepreneurial energy forces in their own right. The fact is that we have a very exciting team throughout the organization. I can't imagine not doing what I am doing now. I have spent my life apprenticing for this job," states Thompson.
QueryObject System V4.0
The QueryObject Data Mart is architected specifically for Internet data analysis:
Its advance data structure permits very large amounts of multidimensional data to be efficiently stored as a densely compressed loss- less mass, while a unique polynomial index provides instant, random access to both the cross-dimensional totals and via match keys to the supporting transaction level data.
The QueryObject Server, running on UNIX, LINUX or NT, provides open end-user access to the resulting QueryObject Data Marts via ODBC, JDBC and OLE/DB for OLAP.
The QueryObject Distributed Replication Server "Internet-enables" analytical data, so that it can be streamed over the Internet, creating a mid- tier analytical cache for distributed analytical applications or Web-enabling desktop business intelligence tools.
"While I'm very proud of our accomplishments, one of my proudest moments at QueryObjects happened this September when we were listed on the American Stock Exchange. When I took over as CEO twenty months ago, the company was being de-listed from NASDAQ due to prior poor performance. Our American Stock Exchange listing is sound testimony to the progress we are making," says Thompson.
With a firm foundation in business intelligence and ready to soar with the information economy, Thompson concludes, "The history of information applications has paralleled the history of organizational structure. Exec-utive information systems were pre-valent when one or two top executives made all corporate decisions. Then, organizations flattened, removing the middle layer of management, and client/ server technology enabled information distribution to a business-unit model. Now, we're in the era of the totally extended organization, requiring highly autonomous decision making. In order for knowledge workers to be successful, they require easy access to timely business information. Our ambition is to lead the way beyond the old business intelligence model and provide an analytical data distribution model that suits the new economy. We believe the QueryObject System is the core technology to make this happen."
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