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What’s Hot This Summer

You may not know these five products and services. You should.

Despite its diminutive size, this is no 99-pound weakling. The Ultra includes an 80-gigabyte hard drive, a full gigabyte of memory, and an 800-megahertz Intel dual-core processor. And since the Ultra is a true computer, it runs Windows Vista (Home Premium Edition), meaning users can run full-blown versions of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel on this UMPC.

This mighty mite from Samsung is not perfect, though. Those looking for a UMPC with a true keyboard (not one that’s split) may want to consider the HTC Shift. Staff members who travel a lot probably would prefer a portable with a built-in DVD player. Then again, integrated optical devices add pounds and bulk. And UMPCs are all about small. In fact, the only thing that’s not tiny on the Ultra is the price: it retails for around $1,500.

Form-Fitting: Financial Statement Reporting
Who: Clarity Systems
What: Statutory reporting software
Why: Because churning out loads of regulatory reports is all it’s cracked up to be

Sometimes, small things matter a whole lot. Take the statutory reporting program that resides inside Clarity Systems’s Clarity 6 reporting module. An outside observer might read a description of the program and dismiss it as no big deal. But to finance-department staffers who manually crank out reams of reports for regulators, this software is a godsend.

Launched in January, FSR helps automate the production of statutory reports like 10-Ks, 10-Qs, and board books. The application can pull data directly from an ERP system or data warehouse, as well as other sources containing financial data. Once a report is generated, it can be output as a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, PDF file, or Edgar-ready format. Another option: files can be saved in XBRL.

Of real value to CFOs: each section of a statutory document can be assigned to a separate user. Thus, several finance-department staffers can work on the same document simultaneously, greatly speeding up the process. The software also features compliance checklists, so a finance manager can define the activities that need to be followed for the production of each section in a document.

In addition, FSR boasts an audit-trail feature, enabling managers to see which employees did what, and when.

Besides eliminating large amounts of scut work, FSR also reduces the chances of manual errors being introduced into a regulatory document. The price is right, too: the licensing agreement runs $30,000, which covers a base set of five users. FSR can also be purchased as part of the Clarity 6 platform, a corporate performance management suite.

How Green Was My Server: Dell PowerEdge Servers
Who: Dell Computer
What: Energy-efficient servers
Why: Carbon caps are coming. So, too, are higher electricity rates.

True, the IT industry has been pursuing energy efficiency for some time, and Dell isn’t the only PC maker to jump aboard the green bandwagon. In fact, in June, Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo joined forces with scores of other businesses and government agencies to form the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (see “Power Scourge” in the August Topline section). That program aims to drastically reduce the energy consumption of computers.

But Dell’s PowerEdge line offers corporate customers a fast fix for cutting the power consumption of their servers starting now. Even better, the estimated 25 percent reduction in electricity use comes with little trade-off in performance. Dell achieves this neat trick by using low-flow fan technologies, power-optimized BIOS settings, and a power supply that has lower volt processors. Admittedly, a PowerEdge server costs about $100 more than a comparable Dell model without that technology. But with the lowered energy use, customers make that $100 back in about six months.

Businesses looking to reduce the energy consumption of their desktops might also want to consider Dell’s OptiPlex brand. Those PCs come with a power-management setting that puts a computer into hibernation and sleep mode when it’s not in use. Dell reckons the setting could translate into as much as 60 percent in energy savings over the lifetime of the system.

Esther Shein writes frequently about business technology and office automation.


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