What Reviewers Say
A Software Review
“The several beneficial results are that time to write code is significantly reduced, copying errors are significantly reduced, and debugging time is reduced. In fact, the size and length of spreadsheets or procedural language models are typically reduced by one to two orders of magnitude . I estimate that the time I spend writing Analytica models is one quarter to one half of that devoted to similarly complex spreadsheets. “
“Analytica will not solve all the issues associated with modeling or make every model perfectly transparent to all observers. But it does provide tremendous advancements over the current state of affairs. By providing a more transparent depiction of model logic through the use of influence diagrams, model logic can be audited quickly as well as communicate model rationale to broader audiences. Analytica also reduces the programming effort required to produce insights through its use of Intelligent Arrays, array abstraction and integrated Monte Carlo engine. As a result, analysts are freer to focus more on model exploration and its implications than writing code. In conclusion, if you want to evolve a step beyond your current model development and quality assurance time requirements, error rate and auditable transparency issues associated with spreadsheet and procedural language models, Analytica provides a great environment to do so.”
Business Modeling: No
March 2005 – Barry Grushkin
Lumina’s Analytica rends the veil that has kept business managers from collaborating with analysts on complex business models
Business models created in spreadsheets or using arcane code are intrinsically error prone. They require layers of translations between managers and coders and generally are organized by function rather than by intuitive, high-level concepts. Yet most corporate and government decisions are based on models built in spreadsheets.
Lumina Decision Systems’ Analytica cuts through the spreadsheet obfuscation by giving you a better way to create testable, working business models and simulations, from the simple to the complex. The product uses a visual, concept-driven approach for corporate planning and strategy development that serves as an active whiteboard, allowing immediate testing and assumption variation. It also validates decisions, satisfying Sarbanes-Oxley mandates imposed on C-level executives.
“People are always making business decisions based on numbers without knowing where the numbers came from,” says Gary Rushin, vice chair of the board of trustees of the University of Northern Virginia and partner in DecisionPoint. “[Analytica] lets management see what’s going on.
You might think that something that acts as both a design tool and a presentation whiteboard wouldn’t be scalable, but users say that’s not the case. Comparing Analytica to the spreadsheet tool he previously used for Monte Carlo simulation of warranty exposure and service provisioning and planning, Robert M. Holland, senior reliability engineer at Ballard Power Systems, says he experienced several performance improvements: The number of equations decreased from one per (worksheet) cell to one per array. File size decreased by a factor of 100 or more. Calculation speed increased by a factor of five to 10. Development time decreased by a factor of two to five. And the number of files decreased from one per program or product to one file containing all programs and products. Holland says he also prefers Analytica’s ease of use, intuitive visual interface and the ease of modification through array abstraction.
Line56 - A Better Spreadsheet
October 2003 – Jim Ericson
“A Better Spreadsheet: Twenty-five years after Excel, Lumina Decision Systems analytic tool is visual, powerful and flexible“
“Analytica 3.0 is a kind of analytical spreadsheet tool that also contains modeling — think of Excel and an active version of Visio — that is more visual and flexible as well as less error-prone than spreadsheets, according to Lumina.”
“Analytica focuses on decisions, rather than data, which has made it a favorite of analyst Henry Morris at IDC, who feels too much attention has been focused on ‘plumbing’ — as in moving data from point “A” to point “B.” “It’s all supposed to be about decision support,” Morris says. “Isn’t it ironic that many products bracket out the part where people make decisions?”
“There really is a logic going on in a spreadsheet but it’s just hard to see, and this is much cleaner and more transparent to processes,” Morris says. “If you can improve the quality of decisions, price smarter for example, there’s big dollars involved and it keeps paying off as you get better and better. Selling product doesn’t have much of a ceiling when it comes to ROI.”
Lumina Launches New Business Analytics Tool
1 October, 2003
“Analytica 3.0 is designed for business analysts seeking a tool that is more visual, flexible, powerful – and less error-prone – than the common spreadsheet. Analytica is being used by a wide range of organizations that find spreadsheets inadequate to meet their needs for reasons of transparency, scalability, and reliability.”
Analytica is one of the Best
that is being used to build a wide range of decision-centric analytic applications. Business intelligence tools for query/reporting are data-centric — oriented to formatting available data and delivering reports. Decision-centric tools like Analytica, on the other hand, are oriented towards modeling and optimizing operational decisions. This ability to link analytics to action represents a policy hub and is the key to achieving high return on investment.”
Analytica 1.0.1 Surpasses Spreadsheets
“Everything that’s wrong with the common PC spreadsheet is fixed in Analytica.”
“This unusual modeling tool provides both better organization of a decision maker’s thoughts while a model is being built and a clearer depiction of outcomes when different possibilities are considered by a user.”
“Spreadsheets make it easy to define one value’s dependencies on other values, but the typical spreadsheet layout obscures a model’s structure behind an uninformative grid. Analytica replaces this dated approach with a palette of object types. These objects include input variables, probabilities and index nodes that gave PC Week Labs unusual flexibility in creating and modifying lookup tables or similar data structures.”
“When an ordinary spreadsheet is fully assembled, its inputs are easy to change (assuming that they can be found), but the spreadsheet’s basic structure is less readily revised. Heaven help the user who’s told, for example, that the model needs to be evaluated by months rather than quarters – a change that would require wholesale rearrangement of the grid. But Analytica encouraged modular design by letting us build a layered set of models and submodels. Analytica formats output dynamically, based on the structure of its input, using a licensed technology called Intelligent Arrays (providing as many as 15 dimensions of up to 32,000 elements each). Rather than using columns in one part of the spreadsheet grid to represent months, for example, and to represent different geographic regions in another, Analytica let us define index objects for each of these things and combine these objects with values to create arraylike variables.”
“Going back to a spreadsheet feels like going from FORTRAN back to assembly language.”
“Analytica 1.0.1 is not only the right computing tool for financial decisions, it helps you think more realistically.”
“Consider one of the most basic decision models: estimating the net profit from a new venture. In general, you would make your guesses at potential costs and income, choosing a single number for each, and then cross your fingers and plug the numbers into a spreadsheet. In a fancier case, you might do high and low estimates. Analytica, however, encourages you to think in terms of probability distributions – ranges of numbers for costs and income – instead of simply guessing single numbers. …In reality, your best estimate of income is – if you’re talented or lucky — most likely result in a probabilistic range. In real life, costs and net profit are also a range, not a single number. If you have great market and production date, you may have a narrow range of costs and incomes to consider, but the typical case is more uncertain.”
“Analytica lets you build a clear diagram that looks something like a traditional programming flowchart. The elements in the flowchart can be fixed quantities, quantities represented by distributions (you select the distribution from a pull-down menu in the element-definition dialog box), or quantities computed from your other already defined elements (for example, net = income – costs). With a little practice, you can link elements to build a model almost as fast as you can think.”
“But Analytica’s focus and diagrams really let you see and understand the key points of this kind of probability-based financial model without struggling with a clutter of spreadsheet machinery.”
“The program itself is close to perfection.”
“The Last Word: If you have any professional responsibility for decisions involving money, buy Analytica and learn to use it. Once you understand Analytica modeling, you’ll see why common spreadsheet single-number predictions in business are so often useless and misleading.”
“Rating: * * * * 8.9” “PROS: The best single decision-analysis program yet produced.”
Journal of Human and Environmental Risk Assessment
April 1999. Louis Anthony Cox, Jr., Kerrie N. Paige, Douglas Popken.
“Within its chosen domain — uncertainty propagation through influence diagram models — Analytica® is by far the easiest and best tool that we have seen.”
“Overall, the Monte-Carlo engine implementation appears to be very efficient, allowing results to be calculated quickly.”
“Analytica 1.2 is very easy to learn. We were impressed by the simplicity and clarity of its design. New users can learn to create useful simple models within minutes of acquiring the software, while a wealth of valuable optional and advanced functions and features will be learned over time as they are needed.”
“Once the software has been learned, it is delightful to use. The number of mouse-clicks and key strokes required to produce desired results is minimal, yet the process to follow is obvious.” “Analytica has exceptionally well-developed facilities for navigating large and complex models.” “We have encountered no crashes using Analytica 1.2 over a period of several weeks while preparing this review, nor had occasion to try the technical support at Lumina.”
VALUE Excellent — 10 on a scale from 1 to 10. Analytica beats other decision analysis software packages we have used hands down as a general purpose decision modeling tool.
“The fact that Lumina provides a free Analytica Browser that enables an end-user to view and run a model created by a third party enhances its value even further.”
“A powerful forecasting and business-modeling package does what spreadsheets never could.”
“Because Analytica’s models make it easier to see structural relationships, the program gives you a better understanding of structural problems. I particularly appreciated that Analytica allows model builders to insert plain-English explanations at every node of every diagram.”
“Before we tested Analytica, we used spreadsheets for all our quantitative analyses. Although the spreadsheet approach works well for historical data, it is too cumbersome for forecasting.”
Analytica - A Visual Modelling Tool for Engineers
April 1999. Louis Anthony Cox, Jr., Kerrie N. Paige, Douglas Popken.
“Analytica can be used in a variety of ways. In its simplest form, Analytica can be used to sketch out a model (as you would on a whiteboard) by drawing a diagram with different inputs and decisions (nodes) and connecting the nodes by arrows. Each of these nodes can be given a name and a full description which allows the model to be viewed by others without the need for additional documentation.”
“Analytica is an excellent tool for most engineers. Even used at its simplest level as a tool for drawing diagrams, Analytica’s excellent graphics make it easier for engineers to communicate ideas.
At a slightly more complex level, Analytica makes an excellent replacement for a spreadsheet since models can be constructed directly from relationships without being constrained by the row and column paradigm of a spreadsheet. And ultimately for those of us suitably qualified, Analytica can be used to generate extremely complex multivariable models which can take uncertainty and risk into account.”
Karen M. Carrillo.
“PC software users looking for a data analysis solution beyond the spreadsheet have a new alternative.”
‘What you’re looking to do is understand not only the numerical results, but the relationships that generate the results,’ says Chris LeTocq, an analyst at Dataquest Inc.”
“Users are pleased with the product’s ease of use.” David Gill, operations analyst in the Boeing Co.’s operation analysis group in Duluth, Ga., uses Analytica for analyzing Boeing’s research and development. ‘It didn’t take me long to learn,” he says. Gill also likes the ability to integrate with Microsoft Office and cut and paste into Excel spreadsheets.
“In a competitive environment, you have to convince the CIO and CO that buying a product will have high profitability,” says Podlesny. “‘Analytica allows us to operate in a problem-solving space that you wouldn’t be able to handle in a spreadsheet.'”