"Up until now, a purchasing representative, for example, had to sit down in front of a browser and visit all the Web-based supplier sites one at a time," Pallmann says. "They may need to cross-reference the part number. And the entire operation could take 40 minutes just to find a single, second source.
"A national sales manager who spends hours consolidating regional sales reports and forecasts by product, division, and channel into a single corporate forecast can take days off his time," Pallmann adds.
Using the NQL Content Anywhere platform and its NQL scripting language, a corporate developer can create a script for an automated agent that, for example, goes out in parallel to many sites at machine speed, cross references all the part numbers, and returns a tabulated list delivered to almost any workflow pllatform.
NQL Server becomes a central repository which can be accessed by any device, from a simple drop-down menu in a desktop application to a query using Web Clipping technology on a Palm VII.
Most of the scripting to create an automated agent is done with a technology similar to the concept of a macro in Microsoft applications, where the keystrokes of a repetitive and often-used task are captured, recorded, and given a one-keystroke command. A non-programming professional can simply click on an icon to create a script and record a session.
Because it can be quite simple to use, financial services companies could license the NQL technology and offer it to their customers. A consumer could record the steps or clicks it takes to retrieve a bank statement, even specifying a time of day to deliver the results.
GreyStone is at a different end of the content aggregation spectrum. Its products are the result of work it did as a government defense contractor. The application environment developed by GreyStone allows companies to manage uncertainty, CEO Richard Smith says.
Using a statistics-based system, GreyStone's technology can infer needed missing facts and formulate those facts into a database for decision support.
In the world of defense, the technology was used for pilotless planes that needed intelligence about a fighting environment. With data collected through satellites, radar, human intelligence, and audio and visual samples, it was able to derive from these complex data sets what the robotic plane was encountering, be it troop movements, enemy radar, or the movement of tanks across the desert, Smith says.
Smith calls the process "digital immersion," and has moved his company and his immersioneering technology into the business-to-business space as well.