Ask Jeeves Targets Enterprises

Ask Jeeves Inc. is unveiling today a new product that enables customers to connect their enterprise data systems to Ask Jeeves to enhance customer efficiency via natural language Web self-service. 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. Octopus technology allows users to construct custom views of the Internet by pulling data from various Web sites onto a single page and let users create custom Web pages linking to text, images and streaming media, such as video clips. The content is automatically updated and displayed whenever the page is loaded. The product differs from JeevesOne Standard by allowing 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 it 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. JeevesOne Enterprise also filters specific, fine-grained data elements from disparate sources, presenting the user with the precise detailed information. The new product also leverages established and emerging standards including XML, SOAP, J2EE, and LDAP. In addition, it will also 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 one vertical Knowledge Pack. The Knowledge Packs delivering pre-built, 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 servers. Allen Bonde, president and founder of The Allen Bonde Group, a Wellesley Hills, Mass.-based market research firm and consultancy says that compared to the pricing for traditional search tools the pricing is high, but that compared to CRM infrastructure solutions the pricing is kind of low. Although impressed with the product, Bonde says that Ask Jeeves faces a challenge of positioning the product. "The product show they are serious about being an enterprise player," Bonde says. "The company is migrating from a natural language search company to a more self-service CRM platform. The challenge will be articulating that story."
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