IBI has created a two-way wireless communication street that requires virtually no training, according to Keith Gile.

Gile, a senior industry analyst with Giga Information Group, said Tell Me By Email, IBI’s new reporting system, is run on e-mail applications and everybody already knows how to use e-mail.

“If you take a step back and look at the business intelligence arena, several companies have purported to have wireless options. The problem is what they were delivering was a one-way communication,” Gile said. “The truth is this wasn’t relevant stuff. It’s not like you can take a multi-dimensional cube and squeeze it into a PDA. What IBI decided to do was say, ‘How can we create interaction here? How can we allow access to business intelligence-type data interactively?”

He added this is where e-mail came in and IBI put a mechanism within the WebFOCUS environment that says a user needs information.

“So, it sends you some information. If that’s the end of the line, then that’s not business intelligence, it’s merely data delivery. But if we were to put a mechanism in there that would allow you to say, ‘Just send me the consolidated report for eastern Canada, and I want to send it to 10 people who are doing that type of support work,'” then it’s something else, Gile stated, adding this is what IBI has done.

Tell Me By Email is a mobile business intelligence solution that uses e-mail to bring two-way communication with a corporate database to the employee and can run on any mobile device, including RIM’s BlackBerry, Palm, two-way pagers, Pocket PCs and cell phones.

Daniel Ortolani, director and general manager of WebFOCUS products at IBI, explained that IBI created a “robot” that sits in a company’s data centre and sends alerts to people via e-mail when there is information they would want or have requested.

“The user can also request information from the robot,” Ortolani said. “This is two-way e-mail. It will work with any e-mail software.”

He used the example of baseball statistics, demonstrating on a Blackberry. He showed that he can request the latest statistics on a baseball team, and within minutes, the information came back to him. A few minutes later he received an update, as the stats had changed.

Ortolani noted people could also ask the robot to send information, specific or general, to other people in the company.

Tell Me By Email sits on top of a WebFOCUS database and pushes relevant information to a wireless device via e-mail.

Gile called the solution very intelligent, and said it was the first product to embrace wireless and business intelligence.

James Thomas, director of applications technical services at Virginia Commonwealth University, is excited by the possibilities this solution could hold for the medical field.

Thomas demonstrated the product and is hoping the university will incorporate it onto its WebFOCUS platform.

“The school has a large medical school and one of our major interests in the Tell Me product is in patient care,” Thomas said. “The hope is it will prove suitable for querying the patient database or queries related to patient medical histories, drug allergies.”

He pointed to many stories of accidental overdose or the wrong medication being given to a patient, and noted a solution like this could cut down on those incidents in the medical field.

“It would primarily be targeted toward a situation where a practitioner is reviewing a patient’s situation at that moment and perhaps has a question related to childhood disease,” he said.

Thomas continued that a doctor could be waiting to hear about patient information while continuing his or her rounds.

Another use for Tell Me By Email, according to Thomas, is the business event triggers.

“During the registration process, say all of the biology 101 classes fill up in every section. This would monitor that situation and an automatic e-mail would be sent to the dean of that department.”

Thomas noted that one change he would hope to see in the future would be priority of requests for reports.

“Right now the system is architected in a first-come first-serve basis. But we want patient queries to go to the head, and others can be pushed back,” he said.

He also said if he were looking for this to be a solution for handheld computing needs, he might not be 100 per cent satisfied if he had to build in a WebFOCUS back end.

“The fact that we already had all of those IBI products made this a natural fit,” he said.