Ownership/Management and Current Strategy
Frontline Systems, Inc. was founded by Daniel Fylstra. Dan was involved in the PC industry from its earliest days, as founding Associate Editor of BYTE Magazine in 1975. As co-founder of VisiCorp in 1978, he is well known for his role in the development and marketing of VisiCalc, the original spreadsheet program. Dan has a BSEE in Computer Science from M.I.T. and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Frontline Systems specializes in making advanced technology for decision-making -- what some call "rocket science" -- affordable and very easy to use. Frontline's software technology for both optimization and simulation is at the leading edge, irrespective of price or platform. Over many years, Frontline has been among the first to implement new algorithms and mathematical methods, appearing in PhD theses and academic journal articles -- and has been an inventor or major contributor to the methods on several occasions. But unlike competitors who offer this advanced technology to a handful of buyers at six-figure prices, Frontline has "democratized" the technology -- making it available to everyone in business.
Frontline uses Microsoft Excel as its preferred "platform" and "language" for embedding optimization and simulation technology, to make the technology available to anyone who can use a spreadsheet, and who will spend some time formulating a model of a business problem. Although Frontline's software is popular among experts in operations research and management science, most of Frontline's customers are "front line" managers and professionals, often with MBAs and/or engineering degrees, but without specialized OR/MS training. Frontline's software products, priced in many cases under $2,000 for a single user license, are more capable than some other products priced at $10,000 to $25,000 or more.
To simplify use of advanced simulation and optimization technology, Frontline has invested heavily in automated analysis of models in Excel. Because Frontline's software can automatically determine whether a model can be solved via linear or quadratic programming, smooth nonlinear optimization, stochastic optimization, or methods like genetic algorithms and tabu search, users don't need extensive backgrounds or training in these methods to use Frontline's products.
Since applications of this advanced technology, once developed by engineers, managers and professionals, are often candidates for deployment to large numbers of non-technical end users, Frontline has focused on making development and deployment, in Excel or in a programming language, as easy as possible -- through tools like a simple and consistent object-oriented API (application programming interface), across all its products, in Excel VBA, COM, .NET and Java, and a flexible, customer-friendly set of software licensing policies and tools.
Frontline also applies technology to its marketing, sales and support activities. It is a leading-edge user of Web-based tools for end-to-end customer relationship management and technical support, offered on a worldwide basis -- creating a closer connection with its customers. Frontline believes that the combination of easy-to-use software products and highly available support services can help more customers achieve greater success with several kinds of analytic solver technology.