Query-via-E-Mail Enabled

Information Builders Inc. next month will announce products to extend enterprise data to a variety of portable devices, including the ability to query data via wireless systems.

Applications will be based on the company's WebFocus suite of business intelligence tools. A user could, for instance, receive an e-mail alert if a product's inventory level dips below a specified number.

The key piece of New York-based Information Builders' strategy is TellMe By Email, which allows mobile workers to query -- via e-mail, wirelessly -- to corporate databases and customer information files from a variety of devices.

TellMe By Email also contains a feature, Report Caster, that enables users to determine when they want to receive e-mail reports, and to generate queries of corporate data sources based on the reports, according to Mike Corcoran, Information Builder's vice president of marketing.

For example, the system may send an alert to say that a particular division in a company is over budget. A trigger is set in the software package that houses that data, and essentially watches it until certain criteria are met, then sends the alert.

Because the software formats the reports and the queries automatically, users can receive reports on a variety of devices, including Palm, Blackberry, or other wireless devices.

"We're seeing more and more software that uses various wireless devices to bring information out of data warehouses," said Henry Morris, an analyst at market research firm IDC, in Framingham, Mass. "But in earlier announcements of this type of wireless technology, companies had to format multiple reports."

"It makes a lot of sense to produce a report and have software that formats it for different devices' display drivers," IDC's Morris said. "We'll probably see this type of technology from more vendors."

Morris added that the product would benefit end-users because the reporting is easier and would benefit IT because they have to create fewer reports.

TellMe By Email is set to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2000.

Making corporate data available to mobile users across a variety of devices typically requires formatting a report for each form factor of device used to access the data.

To make reports more accessible, BI (business intelligence) vendors, such as MicroStrategy in Vienna, Va. and Brio Technology, in Santa Clara, Calif., added functionality to their products that enables users to receive reports via e-mail, based on set thresholds.