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Read Part I of this interview.

Oren Rosen is the Toronto-based President and COO of Sydney, Australia-based Cougar Software. The company makes software to facilitate investment performance measurement, investment reporting and returns forecasting. Here’s the second installment of a two-part interview.

GlobeSt.com: You say Excel spreadsheets are acceptable for isolated uses. But you also caution that Excel was not designed for complex, multifaceted data-centric applications, such as those needed by many fund and asset managers in today’s real estate industry. How does your software overcome those weaknesses?

Rosen: For the volume of data fund and asset managers are dealing with, they need a database–Excel is not a database, Cougar is. Second, one of the biggest weaknesses of Excel is the lack of audit-ability and lack of security. Someone can change a cell in Excel that alters the output and you would not know who, when, what or even if anything was changed. Cougar, on the other hand, has a fully integrated role-based security system and audit tracking. So aside from defining who can change what, you can track any change, what it was changed from, when it was changed, and who changed it. Third, integration with other systems is key, because with real estate, you are continually getting data from different sources. Since Excel is not a database or have a chart of accounts structure, integrating with other systems to produce consolidated reports is unbelievably time-consuming, Cougar solves this with its data consolidation core as we discussed earlier.

I personally love Excel so I have to say something positive about it. One of its major attractions is the ability to make mass changes to data in a grid structure. We recognize this as something people don’t want to lose, so Cougar offers editable schedules which mimic Excel in your ability to make mass changes to data, however the changes are bound by security and changes are tracked.

GlobeSt.com: What distinguishes Cougar software from its competition?

Rosen: I would say three things: Our forward-looking financial analysis engine; our ability to integrate with other systems; and the fact that Cougar’s product suite is homogeneous. It is built entirely by Cougar. We have the only forward-looking financial analysis engine that combines the known’s and any number of assumptions to enable clients to model every possible future scenario at the click of a button.

Cougar identified early on that 90% of the information in Cougar will come from other systems and accordingly we placed a priority focus on our integration capabilities. Today Cougar has established integrations with most real estate point solutions and accounting systems and has developed the technology and capability for quickly and easily integrating with new systems.

Most if not all of our competitors have acquired one or more companies or products and band-aided them together to offer what Cougar offers in a single, built from the ground up homogeneous solution. While at the 100,000-foot level the build through acquisition model sounds feasible, like everything the devil is in the details and getting different solutions to work together requires integration of data, security structures, database designs, and user interfaces.

Most companies only focus on the user interface to make it look like one product but the reality is it is not–it’s like buying a Mercedes but with a Ford engine and bicycle tires. With Cougar, you’re getting the car, the engine and the tires built by the same company and designed for optimal performance together.

GlobeSt.com: Why is that important?

Rosen: It’s important because we are living in fear about what the future may bring and we need clarity and perspective. Cougar with its focus on forward-looking analysis delivers clarity and perspective by painting a picture of possible futures better than any other solution we know of.

In today’s tumultuous time, people and organizations are frozen in indecision and inaction as their previous sources of knowledge and predictability–historical information–is all but useless in deciding what to do to go forward. So what do you do? There is only one option, look forward…but look forward and explore all likely, possible future scenarios so you can prepare accordingly. This is where Cougars forward looking analysis engine comes in.

This requires a three-step process of bringing all your data together in a timely, consistent and accurate format, combining it with assumptions to generate future scenarios, and analyzing and making decisions off the results. Then you can share both the result and supporting data with key stakeholders. This is where Cougar’s experience with integration comes in.

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