Finaquant news August 2012: Product roadmap

finaquant calcs: A real calculation engine with table functionsFinaquant Analytics plans to launch its first software product finaquant® calcs implemented with C#/.NET technology until the end of 2012. finaquant® calcs is essentially a real, fully configurable calculation engine comprising matrix, vector and table functions. Its real difference and added value in the technical sense is the extensive library of table functions like distributions and condition functions based on sound mathematical models.

The added value of finaquant® calcs is not limited to table functions: We can count its affordable price (market entry price under 100$), free download of version updates for 5 years once purchased, downloadable solution templates for concrete business applications, competent product support and user community forums among this product’s other advantages.

Our customers

With finaquant® calcs we target small and middle sized companies as well as start-ups in any industry that …

  • want to keep it neat and simple.
  • don’t want to invest in expensive projects, consultants and software for table functions.
  • want to take the control and power in their own hands for adjustments and configurations (our self-service approach) without much reliance to external consultants.

… for following applications:

  • Financial planning; related risk and scenario analysis (see future products in outlook below).
  • Fee and commission calculations for industries like financial services, energy and telecommunication; for businesses typically with a network of business partners and dealers.
  • Simulation and analysis of complex analytical relationships for business and science that typically need chained table calculations.

A math software like matlab or R, but with table functions!

finaquant® calcs will have a simple and utilitarian user interface like that of R where you can generate vectors, matrices and tables, and execute operations on them with simple intuitive commands.

You will be able to read your input tables from an excel sheet or database, apply some table functions on them without any connection to database, and write the results back to an excel sheet or database.

finaquant® calcs will comes with an excel add-in so that you can call table, matrix and vector functions directly from your VBA scripts (excel macros).

Full configurability, well defined mathematical functions, and database independence for table operations (apart from reading inputs and writing results) makes finaquant® calcs a real calculation engine.

The real innovation related with table functions are the underlying meta-data concepts (i.e. dependent attributes and key figures) and a kind of table information theory which we started to develop about six years ago. The outcome of all this work is mathematics for tables!

Table functions are generally considered to be within the realm of cryptic SQL programming for case-by-case solutions that need vigorous requirement engineering. Finaquant Analytics will make table functions available for users of applications like excel, R and matlab who have some affinity for matrix calculations, formulas and mathematical models.

A single high-level table function of finaquant® calcs can replace multiple weeks -in some cases even multiple months- of tedious database programming with much better oversight and reduced complexity. The generic condition function which is mentioned below is a good example for this.

Self-service approach

We will deliver you the building stones in terms of software with well documented mathematical functions, tutorials and user manuals plus training if desired, and you will configure your own solution yourself without reliance on us or on other external consultants. That is our self-service philosophy and business model.

Self-service doesn’t mean that you are totally left alone! There will be a competent product support, community forums with customer questions and answers, and most importantly, downloadable solution templates for concrete business cases like different financial planning scenarios, different fee calculations etc. as demos for real-life applications. That is, in most cases, you won’t need to configure your solution from scratch. You can just download the closest template and make adjustments on it. We will also offer result based consulting for extraordinary business cases, so don’t worry; you won’t be left alone.

Once you have purchased a single-user license for finaquant® calcs, you will automatically have the right to download all version updates for this product for 5 years! This means, by just being a responsive customer, for example by reporting bugs, or by submitting your suggestions for possible improvements, you can help us to make your product a better product.

Some examples for high-level table functions available in finaquant® calcs

  • Allocations and distributions: For example, for distributing department costs or bonus amounts further to teams and individuals. Often needed in financial planning
  • Reconciliations: For example, for comparing revenues or cashflows from two different sources at the same level (i.e. same attribute value combinations in two tables).
  • Conditional calculations: For example, for applying different cost, price or fee calculation methods (or parameters) on different product groups. Often needed in fee and commission calculations.
  • Attribute filters: For example, for filtering out (i.e. excluding) certain product groups from product or fee calculations. There can be inclusion or exclusion filters.
  • Date filters: For getting the required time series variations like month-end data, yearly month-end averages, monthly data with maximum value of the month, quarter-end data with search-backwards method if the last day of quarter is not available etc.
  • Sub-table calculations with configurable formulas: You can configure your own formulas and table functions, that should be applied on sub-tables of an input table, where sub-tables are extracted based on conditions you have defined. With this table function alone, you can configure every calculation you can with an expensive software suit like the FOX formulas of SAP BI, and more, for a miniscule fraction of its costs.

These are just a few examples for available high-level table functions (block functions) for easy configuration of some complex but otherwise relatively standard calculations. Also available are the lower-level table operations (in addition to basic vector and matrix functions) like table filtering, table partitioning, table append, table addition and multiplication and so on, so that you can formulate your own table functions.

Note that you can use outputs of a table function as inputs of another table function. In that way, you can configure your own chain of table functions, as often required for financial planning.

Outlook: Future products planned after finaquant® calcs

With its matrix and table functions finaquant® calcs is the base module required for all future modules, such as:

Workflow approach for manual data adjustments and approvalsfinaquant® frames: General purpose (i.e. generic) calculation framework as introduced in the related article at finaquant.com. This module is for the configuration and automation of complex chained calculations, which can have a network of nodes (i.e. contracts), each with its own set of input and output parameters. Note that every parameter in this framework is a table.

finaquant® frames is a framework that runs on the top of finaquant® calcs for the management and storage of all input and output parameters. An intelligent calculation workflow ensures that outputs of a node are not unnecessarily recalculated unless there are some new (or updated) and valid input data.

finaquant® frames might be desirable for larger companies like fund distributors and transfer agents, or businesses with dealer networks that need to manage multiple chained calculations.

finaquant® reps: A module for meta-data intelligence based on the table information theory as introduced in a related article at finaquant.com.

How it works? You introduce all the fields (i.e. text attributes like product name, numeric attributes like dates, and key figures like quantity) and tables you have in your database (or excel sheets) along with all field relations like attribute hierarchies, computed key figures and aggregation rules. In short, you introduce your meta-data to finaquant® reps so that it knows in principle all the information you have.

Then you ask finaquant® reps if an information like “Sales per Country, Customer Segment and Year” (formal table notation: Sales(Country, Segment, Year)) can be extracted from the tables you have. Note that the fields you have selected for your inquiry like Sales and Country need not be some actual fields of the tables in your database; they can be derived attributes or computed key figures.

Considering the available tables, fields and their relations, finaquant® reps calculates silently:

  • Whether the report (which is also a table) can be extracted from the information you have. If not, what information is missing, if yes:
  • What table operations like partitioning, filtering, combination, aggregation, key figure computing etc. must be executed to obtain the desired table.

That is not all. finaquant® reps can also order finaquant® calcs so that all the required table operations are executed automatically in order to deliver you the table you want.

What does this mean for you? This means, finaquant® reps saves you (as a small to medium sized company) from expensive reporting software and related consultancy for configuring data objects, data universes and so on. Besides, it is a kind of requirement-driven reporting tool which can tell you what information is missing for a desired report. This is something you can hardly find even in expensive reporting software suits.

Note however, that finaquant® reps can’t do any layout formatting for you for the final report; it just extracts the core information you ask from the database. Neither is it a tool for organizing user access rights for reports.

For such reporting functions like layout formatting and permission management we will provide you with information on what you can do with excel for simple tasks (yes, excel does have some reporting functionality), and re-direct you to our business partners for complementary products and services. We will concentrate ourselves on our core competence, namely, table calculations and analytics!

finaquant® analytics: So far, you have configured your calculations with finaquant® calcs, and you get every report you want easily with finaquant® reps. Maybe you use some complementary reporting software for generating beautiful reports and invoices. Is that all you want to do with your calculations? Don’t you want to be able to apply simulations, scenario analysis and optimizations on these calculations in order to extract strategic information for management decision?

In case your answer is yes, finaquant® analytics is the missing link you need. This module will contain a library of simulation, analysis and optimization functions. We also plan to offer matlab and R integration so that you can use the available optimization functions in these applications on the calculations you have configured with finaquant products.

As with other finaquant products, we will try to keep everything as simple as possible with finaquant® analytics. We don’t want to create artificial complexity, or invent new business needs and buzzwords in order to sell consultancy. As mentioned, we want to offer self-service products. In most cases, it will be enough for our customers to understand and apply constrained optimizations.

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One Response to Finaquant news August 2012: Product roadmap

  1. admin admin says:

    The launch of the commercial calculation engine finaquant® calcs will be delayed a couple of months into the next year 2013.

    Its launch was originally planned for the end of 2012. The reason of this delay is finaquant® protos, the free (zero-priced) non-commercial and smaller version of finaquant® calcs, which will be available for download within a couple of weeks. We want to collect some test results and feedbacks for finaquant® protos first before launching our first commercial product finaquant® calcs.

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