For years Computer Associates International has been touting Neugents, software that can search through data sources to find patterns of activity and predict outcomes in the future.
This week the company finally formally shipped Neugents ii, software it claims can be used for virtually anything - from sales and marketing to network management to crime solving.
Computer Associates said it has 500 customers beginning to use the software, which grabs data from multiple sources and rapidly analyses it against business rules set by the user.
"With it, we're going into the realm of e-business prediction," proclaimed Carl Hartman, CA's vice president of eBusiness Management.
The Neugents ii software can be set up to recognise patterns of activity, such as rising congestion in a network, or to which age and income group certain items may sell the best.
One CA customer, the London-based police force New Scotland Yard, claims to be using the $US225,000-and-up Neugents to battle crimes such as robbery, burglary and auto theft.
"We want to know if there are links between specific burglaries," said Phil Stoneman, technologies business manager at New Scotland Yard. At present, it's not feasible for an individual to comb through this massive amount of data to unearth links, he said.
While Stoneman stopped short of comparing Neugents ii to the legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes, he did say the results using the technology have so far been promising.
In the far different realm of financial services, Citistreet -- the joint venture created by Citigroup and State Street for investment services -- is using Neugents ii in its retirement services division.
"We want to market the right kinds of services to our customers," said Ira Schwartz, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Citistreet.
The Neugents software is providing a way to do that quickly by rapidly matching various financial services with customer demographics, such as age and other available data.
"We expect to see this help the effectiveness of our sales force and make sure the customer is offered products they're likely to be interested in," claims Schwartz.
Vendors also appear to have some interest in incorporating Neugents ii as a kind of artificial-intelligence technology into their own products. Pegasus Technologies, for example, has started marketing software it calls New Site to monitor fuel consumption and heat rates in power plants.
Analysts familiar with Neugents ii say it represents a new software genre with which there's no comparison with anything else sold today.
"It's what we at International Data Corp [IDC] are calling 'cyber-smart computing'," explains Steve Garone, program vice president at research firm IDC.
"By integrating your back-end applications with it, it can be a great advantage to organisations. The software agents can look for patterns over time."
Garone added he hopes to see other vendors coming out with similar kinds of software, so he can judge Neugents in a larger framework.