Atomica brings data integration to desktop

Information is power and more than one million computer users have been fueling their personal power with a handy little source of information tucked in the corner of their desktops. I number among them and have clicked on a little icon to a treasure trove of information for almost two years now when I’m not sure of a company spelling or location or when I need a technical term explained or one of a trillion acronyms defined.

The provider, Atomica Corporation of Burlingame, Calif., regularly gets email “love your service, please don’t go away,” says Scott Barnett, vice-president of sales and marketing.

“It’s one of the vestiges of the dot-com era when you gave something away for free to get lots of eyeballs on you,” he explains. “It’s a new world now and one must commoditize.”

Recently renamed Slingshot and now carrying a fee, the former Atomica Personal is just a little sample of the company’s main product, Atomica Enterprise.

With a slogan that promises “integrated information on demand,” Atomica Enterprise is an information integration and retrieval product in the enterprise search space. It delivers information quickly from a query in a topic window and can be used to consolidate existing search engines or search capabilities, Barnett explains. It allows one to issue a query and get all the information from databases at once.

The year-old Atomica Enterprise is being used in many companies, including Ontario’s Hydro One where a project manager using Atomica Personal thought it would be great if it worked with corporate data, says Barnett. “He checked our Web site and saw that it did.”

A company press release notes that a pilot project at Hydro One showed that compared to alternatives, an Atomica Enterprise solution providing access to unified information from sources like enterprise applications as well as legacy and proprietary systems could be implemented and deployed in less time with less effort for a faster ROI.

One of Canada’s largest utility companies, Hydro One is using Atomica Enterprise to power a Web index portal initiative. According to Atomica, the initiative will provide the utility’s staff with one-click on-demand access to a concise and consolidated view of asset data resident in a number of disparate Hydro One systems in different departments that support a particular business process. Access to this data will help to drive asset planning and program decisions, assist in troubleshooting defects and outages, and support customer relations.

Information that was previously not directly available, but rather had to be requested through other department members, is now available to all appropriate staff members, notes Atomica. Atomica Enterprise uses a metadata repository and retrieves real-time information from the original data sources, ensuring that Hydro One staff sees the most recent information and that custodians of the data sources maintain control over the accuracy of the data. Additionally, Atomica Enterprise has security features that can ensure only authorized users have access to appropriate data.

Atomica’s topic approach and patented unification technology enables related information from disparate sources to be identified and integrated without extensive data mapping or replication.

While Atomica has focused to date on pharmaceutical companies and government, Barnett says it looks like they will have some live roll-outs in the financial services sector as well in early 2003. He sees it fitting this sector well since customers typically have information in lots of places in a financial services firm and it can be a challenge to get it out and back to the user in as few queries as possible.

He says it has attracted the attention of financial services firms who are looking at helping internal customer support improve their response time to customers. He says some prospective financial services customers have also shown interest in letting their clients with password protection have self-service access to information about their own multiple accounts.