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ANDERSEN CONSULTING: DATA VISUALIZATION: THE FINAL FRONTIER?

It's like standing on the bridge of the Enterprise. The darkened room is circular, with a doughnut-shaped conference table of gleaming pearwood in the center and a floor-to-ceiling video wall that wraps three-quarters around. A systems engineer named Istvan Varga taps on a laptop, and the wall appears to recede, revealing a starry night. The blue earth spins tranquilly in the middle distance. Varga taps on the laptop again, and we zoom down on Tokyo, inspecting damage to company facilities from an imaginary earthquake. Web pages, news bulletins, and 3-D graphs of market activity after the quake pop up on the video wall.

Andersen Consulting calls it Pegasus. Designer Kenneth R. Straus, an Andersen manager, says Pegasus could enable better-informed, more collaborative decision-making by all of a company's executives--not just financial officers.

Pegasus is the razzle-dazzle component of the Financial Ideas Exchange, a suite of technology demonstrations under the direction of Andersen partner William E. Storts. Andersen relied on Reuters for news feeds; CATS Software Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif., for historical securities data; Visible Decisions Inc. in Toronto for data-visualization tools; and Silicon Graphics Inc. for the computer that runs the whole thing.

Pegasus is generating a lot of interest, Straus says. But that's all, so far, despite the Star Trek trappings. ''No one,'' Straus concedes, ''is whipping out their wallets.''

By Peter Coy in New York


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