Wap listings service takes off

If you are looking for somewhere to eat, sleep or be entertained, Citikey puts knowledge at your fingertips

If you are looking for somewhere to eat, sleep or be entertained, Citikey puts knowledge at your fingertips

He is only 26 years old, but Ziad Ismail can already boast over 20,000 users registered with his Wap service Citikey, a city listings guide that can be accesses by Wap phones and PDAs, writes Martin Couzins.

Founded in Stockholm in February 1999, and recently launched in London, Citikey provides bite-size chunks of information on bars, restaurants, cinemas and accommodation. It uses BEA Enterprise software running on a Sun operating system. The Oracle database also sits on Sun.

Ismail says, "I developed the initial idea and brought together the team to develop the product." The idea proved successful and earned him the Stockholm School of Economics Business Plan of the Year and Cap Gemini's Innovation of the Year awards.

Ismail went on to develop the service, which was programmed using Enterprise Java Beans and XML, and has recently implemented a unified development system which underlies the whole working ethos at Citikey. Software development starts with the needs of the end-user. These get fed back to the product manager, and then to the architect. The result is software development based on what end-users want.

The site, which receives over 25,000 hits a day, took one year to develop from the initial idea to going live, but Ismail says, "We are constantly developing the service to improve it and incorporate user feedback."

However, it hasn't all been plain sailing. Ismail says the worst moment came when the hardware turned up late. "We were all working flat out to meet launch deadlines, which we did," he says.

Citikey is now run by 60 people. "With our unified development process, the whole business works to develop the service, from marketing through to international content editors," says Ismail.

The site and service were developed specifically for Citikey. "We have a full in-house integration team specialising in bringing partners together to achieve our goals. We have adopted XML and open standards to ensure full integration.

But, in the fast-changing world of mobile communications, Ismail says he has to keep an eye on the future. "We have a process of continually reviewing all emerging standards in telecoms and software industries and incorporating user feedback to develop the site and Citikey service."

Asked what his inspiration was for the site Ismail replies, "It is really the end-user who is our inspiration - and it is from their perspective that we developed the Citikey service." And the future? "To expand the service across Europe, the US and Asia."

Curriculum vitae

  • Name:Ziad Ismail

  • Age: 26

  • Job title: founder and chief technology officer

  • Qualifications: MSc in computer science

  • IT skills: those gained from the MSc, and telecoms skills

  • Hobbies: running, swimming

  • Favourite book: Information Rules by Varion Shapiro

  • Favourite club: Fasching (Stockholm)

  • Ziad on Ziad: driven, passionate, fun

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