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iBelong Adds Analytic Power

The torrent of data unleashed by the Internet has created a whole new set of problems for those that depend on it -- how can we make sense of the vast troves of available information? And how can we use them efficiently?

Such questions have given rise to one of software development's new hot spots -- online analytics, or rules-based programs that can filter Web data and present the right responses to the right audience at the right time.

This week iBelong Inc., a Waltham, Mass., startup, has jumped into the analytics field with both feet. Heretofore iBelong, which was founded by Open Market co-founder Shikhar Ghosh, has been known as a designer of complex portals, first for non-profit groups and, after a strategy shift last year, then for corporations.

Now iBelong has acquired a Boston maker of e-analytics software, Redwood Investment Systems. And the acquisition promises to so significantly alter the company's product, Ghosh said, that a new corporate name has been chosen: Verilytics Inc.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. No layoffs are planned, as Redwood's 32 employees in Boston will be added to 78 in Verilytics' Waltham office, in addition to 14 programmers in Bangalore and Delhi, India.

"Getting access to information is no longer the problem, but getting time to make sense of it is," Ghosh said. "People now spend a lot of time collecting data from different sources into spreadsheets, which is cumbersome at best. By combining our ability to deliver information into portals and Redwood's analytic infrastructure software, we can help businesses digest data, discover its most meaningful kernels of information and deliver that knowledge to decision makers, in real-time."

Ghosh initially contacted Redwood last summer to help with a single customer project. But the more he looked at the technology, he said, "the more I came to appreciate its power, and saw that this would work best not as an add-on but as a core part of what we do."

Verilytics will continue working as an application service provider, licensing portal set-up and design, then charging monthly fees to manage content feeds and administration.

Redwood's analytics software is designed to make the product much more powerful. A financial services portfolio manager, for instance, could be alerted only when a portfolio stock rises or falls by 10 percent, or if chat-room activity about the stock rises to a certain level, or if a certain person posts in the chat room, or if some combination of those occurs. A sales rep could be told when a product shipment is delayed, or when a product change will affect multiple customers.

Dozens of companies are creating e-analytic software. Ghosh says Verilytics aims to combine elements of three software processes -- consolidating data, as is done by business integration software makers like Tibco Software ; making sense of reams of data, like Autonomy Corp. ; and presenting data streams from different sources in a unified format, a la companies like Epicentric of San Francisco.

"We've not seen any company out there that has achieved what we know we can do," Ghosh said.

Nathaniel Palmer, analyst for the Boston firm The Delphi Group, said, "What has been largely absent from this software segment are applications designed specifically to provide front-line workers with contextualized answers, rather than simply filtered information. Verilytics' solution has the potential to redefine the benchmark for real-time decision making."

The CEO wouldn't reveal exactly how Redwood's software works. But he said its rules allow for data streams to be personalized at the domain level, meaning that it can be programmed to treat the word "merge" differently for fina



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