Search technology gains recognition

Offering enterprises a promising shortcut to the reams of content proliferating both inside and outside the corporation, search and categorization technologies from vendors such as Verity Inc. and Smartlogik Group PLC, released Monday, are gaining momentum, pushing into corporations as infrastructure elements of portals and CRM (customer relationship management) systems.

According to analyst Guy Creese, research director at the Aberdeen Group Inc., in Boston, the Web first brought search technology into focus, and search is now emerging as a valuable tool for enterprises.

"Search first became important because of the Web -- the Web made people understand what search was," Creese said. "Search was unsexy about two years ago ... but in the past year search technologies have just blossomed."

A solid search and categorization infrastructure, spanning enterprise portals and other applications, is a vital weapon for handling the deluge of content hitting corporations, Creese said.

"[Search] is an important issue for enterprises because there is so much content now, if [companies] don't have sophisticated way of finding that content, they are blowing their investments in the content," he said. "Search is becoming much more of an infrastructure play, [highlighting] how it works with other applications, like Web analytics, [and] CRM. It is a tool you can apply in many different ways."

Growing from its search technology roots, Sunnyvale, California-based Verity rolled out K2 Enterprise (K2E), infrastructure software designed to integrate search and categorization into corporate portals and intranets.

K2E's Social Networks feature helps people interact with the data and documents they create, access, and search, according to Rajat Mukherjee, principal software architect at Verity.

"In corporations, it is not just data interacting with data, but people interacting with data," he said. The ability to use business rules is critical to makes taxonomies and data more appropriate and useful."

Another vendor making headway with search functionality, Santa Clara, California-based Smartlogik, unveiled two software products designed to help enterprises easily find and use their content.

The company's Muscatstructure is a rules-based categorization engine that enables the development of taxonomy personalized to individual users, according to Smartlogik officials. Smartlogik's natural language search tool, Muscatdiscovery, lets users ask a question in order to locate content within the corporation, in a partner network, or from external sources such as the Internet.

Additionally, Smartlogik's software is designed to run on Internet-based application server platforms, including Sun's Java J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) and Microsoft's Com+, which can aid the process of linking the software to other corporate applications and systems, according to Smartlogik officials.

The combination of search and categorization is a powerful tool for enterprises, said Campbell Macpherson, marketing director at Smartlogik.

"It depends on the industry, but access to right information at the right time lets you bring a drug to market sooner in the pharmaceutical industry, for example," he said.

"No one buys search for search sake, it is a business case to be put together on individual basis," Macpherson said. "It can increase productivity considerably by finding right info quickly, and improve ROI."

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