Wayfarer Communications of Mountain View, Calif., is putting push technology to work for internal purposes at First Union Corp.'s brokerage subsidiary.
Wayfarer, which goes up against Marimba Inc. and Pointcast Inc. with systems that deliver streams of information to personal computer desktops, this month began shipping version 4.0 of its Wayfarer product, formerly known as Incisa.
This version is designed for organizations that need up-to-the-minute notifications of changes to data on their corporate systems, intranets, and the Internet.
"The real value is that the information finds you. That's revolutionary in this industry," said John Laing, president and chief executive officer of Wayfarer Communications.
"In the past, users needed a third party to program their systems," said Mr. Laing. "Now they are permitted to do it themselves."
"Wheat First Union spent a lot of money investing in its intranet," said Pam Edwards, the company's Web administrator. "But we wanted a way to notify our users if information they were interested in had been updated, for example, if there was a new deal on a preferred stock."
She looked at a system from Pointcast but chose Wayfarer because "it had a corporate basis to it, had no advertisements, could be customized, and was friendly to our network."
The software resides on a server computer, taking information from 600 news sources and from domestic and international financial markets. It actively searches, filters, and collects pertinent updates for delivery to targeted users' desktops.
The system also lets employees establish their own alerts and triggers to their own specifications.
"Its main strength is the ability to get in the data base and represent inventory and call center loads, things that are mission critical," said Joan-Carol Brigham, research manager at International Data Corp.
"Wayfarer is more tactical, and Pointcast is more strategic," Ms. Brigham said. "Wayfarer's information is company-proprietary, and PointCast collects information from external, public sources."
On the basis of the results of a 200-desktop pilot at Wheat First Union, Wayfarer's technology is being rolled out to 2,500 desktops on the East Coast at a cost of $100,000.
"With this and our intranet, we can change the way we do business and communicate internally," said Ms. Edwards. "It's definitely a hit with our end users and is helping us eliminate costs associated with replacing the Squawk Box."
The desktop Squawk Box system has been an industry standard for years, dating back to before personal computers were introduced to the banking industry.
"Our brokers believe Wayfarer's technology makes them more informed, more productive, and better able to offer up-to-the-minute counsel to their clients," added Ms. Edwards.
Channels are set up centrally or by authorized individuals and then selected for viewing. This enables a system administrator to keep track of what employees are looking at and impose "blocks," if necessary.
"It is based on a broad rights-and-privileges scenario, and under this there are parameters," said Wayfarer's Mr. Laing.
"The benefit is that it allows people to make better decisions," said Robert Schoettle, vice president of marketing at Wayfarer. "They have a single view from one spot, all filtered. It is personalized and customized for the company and individuals."
This is in keeping with feedback from customers that they wanted more choices.
Data are password-protected and encrypted using software from RSA Data Security Inc.
Some of the 50 companies that have implemented Wayfarer programs include the National Association of Securities Dealers, GTE Service Corp., and Seagate Technology Inc. The company is targeting the financial services industry because of its high volume of transactions.
"There is no shortage of business intelligence," Mr. Laing said. "The challenge is to get the right information when it is needed so that individuals can make faster, more informed business decisions."
Most of the information required by employees already resides within their company data bases and servers, he said. Wayfarer 4.0 is designed to give companies and individuals the power to choose the information they want and how they want to view it.
The Wayfarer 4.0 runs on Windows NT-based operating systems. Prices start at $10,000 for 100 seats, with discounts for higher volume purchases.