Searching for Growth
Ask Jeeves takes its natural language search technology to the enterprise with JeevesOne Enterprise.
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Ask Jeeves Inc.'s introduction of a new product, which enables customers to connect their enterprise data systems to Ask Jeeves to enhance customer efficiency via natural language Web self-service, puts the company squarely in a rapidly expanding market space. Called JeevesOne Enterprise, the new software melds JeevesOne Standard, an automated natural language self-service application, with technology Ask Jeeves acquired from Octopus Software Inc. in January 2002. "The product shows they are serious about being an enterprise player," says Allen Bonde, president and founder of The Allen Bonde Group, a Wellesley Hills, Mass.--based market research firm and consultancy. "The company is migrating from a natural language search company to a more self-service CRM platform. The challenge will be articulating that story." Although JeevesOne Enterprise is being positioned in the self-service area of the CRM market, Bonde and other industry watchers claim the product is actually a key part of the enterprise portal space, a market that is expanding exponentially. The enterprise information portal (EIP) software market is expected to grow to $3.1 billion in 2006, up dramatically from $550.4 million in 2000, according to IDC, a market research firm in Framingham, Mass. IDC researchers say customer demand will grow as more and more enterprises recognize the tremendous business value of this technology. "Leading EIP vendors have focused on developing functionality that benefits the business user while providing administration tools and development environments that do not require drastic changes in skill sets within the IT departments," said Brian McDonough, research manager for IDC's Knowledge and Content Management Software service. According to IDC, EIP technology is being deployed to enhance internal collaboration and transactional business processes, and to increase the effectiveness of knowledge workers in roles such as sales and marketing, research and development, and executive management. Using the Octopus technology, JeevesOne Enterprise allows people to construct custom views of the Internet by pulling data from various Web sites onto a single page and allows users to create custom Web pages linking to text, images, and streaming media like video clips. The content is automatically updated and displayed whenever the page is loaded. The product differs from JeevesOne Standard because it allows enterprises to connect and interrelate information from disparate sources. JeevesOne can currently only access unstructured data, such as HTML files and other document types. The addition of the Octopus technology will enable Jeeves to tap into structured transactional data as well. The enterprise version exposes data from previously unreachable enterprise systems in a usable way. For example, it pulls data from enterprise applications, data marts, legacy systems, corporate intranets, partner extranets, and Internet resources. It also filters specific data elements from disparate sources, presenting the user with the precise, detailed information. The product also leverages established and emerging standards including XML, SOAP, J2EE, and LDAP. In addition, it will run on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris platform. JeevesOne Enterprise includes JeevesOne Tools, an adapter development kit, Internet adapters, RDBMS adapter, natural language-based enterprise information retrieval capabilities, vocabulary and natural language customization tools, a customer service Knowledge Pack, and a vertical Knowledge Pack. The Knowledge Packs deliver prebuilt, industry-specific information such as product research, problem resolution, and general customer support questions, according to James Speer, product manager for Jeeves Solutions, the enterprise solutions division of Ask Jeeves, based in Emeryville, Calif. Pricing for the product starts at $155,000, depending on the number of servers. Bonde says this is a bit high compared to traditional search tools, but that compared to CRM infrastructure solutions the pricing is a bit low. --Lisa Picarille
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