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Technology / AI and automation

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: AICORP, INFORMATION BUILDERS UNTANGLE EUROPEAN ALLIANCES

After spending a few years jointly developing two interfaces between their leading products, Information Builders Inc and AICorp have finally called it a day and are quietly disentangling their relationship across the globe. AICorp bought out the joint UK sales operation lock, stock and barrel from Information Builders, and plans similar moves across the Continent. The Intellect natural language processor that has led the 10-year growth of AICorp – formerly Artifical Intelligence Corp – of Waltham, Massachusetts, was interfaced to the Information Builders’ Focus applications development language which has been the cornerstone of the company’s success, on both large IBM mainframes and the DEC VAX range. But with new US management in at AICorp, fresh from Cullinet Software Inc up the road in Westwood, and with EQL, English Query Language, in the same vein as Intellect (if not with quite the pedigree) launched six months ago by Information Builders, the common ground seems to have slipped from under the two companies. Add to that the purchase by Information Builders of an expert systems software house, Level Five Research, in the autumn and the fact that the next AICorp product is to be in that arena, and the former partners seem to be in serious danger of becoming head-on competitors. Here in the UK, the Intellect range was sold by Intellect Software International Ltd, jointly owned by Information Builders, its UK managing director Peter Scawen, and Ian Bramley. It has managed 40 sales over the past three years. The new management at AICorp has put Bramley in as managing director, enforced a long-standing buy-out option with both Information Builders and Scawen, and renamed it AICorp Ltd. It has plans for similar moves in both Germany and, later on, in France. The value of the buy-out was not disclosed and although the parting is clearly amicable, is seems certain that it was growing competitive pressures that prompted it. Although AICorp has annual turnover of only $10m, it has a substantial grip on the IBM mainframe market, small though it is, for artificial intelligence software. It has 500 sites worldwide but with just 40 in Europe, mostly in the UK, it still considers Europe a virgin market. In a little over a month AICorp plans to launch an expert system building tool called KBMS, Knowledge Based Management System. It is already in four customer test sites in the US, some of them using Intellect in conjunction with it. Southern California Edison has 20 years of temperature and weather history as a knowledge base, and uses it for expert infererence of likely electricity demand, while two insurance companies are using it for risk assessment in underwriting.

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CBR Staff Writer

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