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September 21, 1995

RADIUS RIDES THE FIFTH WAVE OF COMPUTING

By CBR Staff Writer

Hull-based Radius Plc has launched Point.Man, a manufacturing and financial software package for client-server architecture environments, with which it plans to take on SAP AG in the German company’s traditional territory. The company, which specialises in the development of systems for the commercial, retail, printing, professional and public sectors, has signed exclusive distribution rights in the UK and Eire for Point.Man, which was written by Spectrum Associates Inc, Boston, Massechusetts. Point.Man consists of 19 modules that integrate customer services, sales order management, manufacturing, financials and management reporting. It uses a standard Windows-based graphical user interfaces throughout, object-oriented techniques, enables integration of third party tools such as spreadsheets and word processing, and supports Object Linking & Embedding. It also includes speech recognition capabilities, imaging, facsimile and electronic distribution interchange capabilities. The system is, Radius said, truly client-server in that it uses graphical interfaces, objects and 95% of the applications reside on the client personal computer, with the main data on the server, so traffic between the server and the client is minimised. Radius likes to describe it as part of the fifth wave in computing – an integrated, open, full client-server package. It described the first wave as large bespoke systems; the second as mainframes using flat files or hierarchical databases and written in something like Cobol; third wave, a move to smaller machines like AS/400 and HP 3000 with no real relational database and still proprietary; and fourth was high level languages running under Unix and a move from character-based screens to graphical interfaces. The company says the Point.Man suite is already operational in 40 reference sites worldwide, predominantly in the US, although a couple of UK sites have been through a complete year’s cycle, including year-end procedures. Radius prices the system per engine, or what most people would call a module, and per user. Point.Man costs ú25,000 per engine, the main three ones being financials, manufacturing and customer service, plus ú1,500 per user.

Video display

Although the Windows interface makes it quite simple for users to operate, the company will also be offering a new support tool called Point.Vision, also written by Spectrum. People using the application connect to the Radius support centre via a telephone line and speech-data modems. There is a small video display camera that sits on top of the user’s computer screen, enabling the support person to see the user and vice versa. Point.Vision also provides voice transmission via speech modems and/or the personal computer’s sound board. The support person is able to share any application with the user and can then both show the user how to perform a function and fix any problems remotely. Pictures and documents can be downloaded to the support person, so that both people can work on a document together. It costs ú1,950 per user, which includes the modems, camera and speech boards, although Spectrum said in the ideal world, companies would probably buy only one copy and channel user queries through one person. Director of Radius enterprise systems Alison McCreath said the company had waited to launch Point.Man until it had fully evaluated the product and had working test sites as a reference. She said the product is robust and comprehensive and it is available immediately.

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