IBM Acquires Specialized Search Firm iPhrase

Continuing a string of acquisitions, IBM will expand its enterprise search capabilities with the addition of iPhrase's assets.

IBM said Tuesday it has acquired the assets of iPhrase Systems Inc., a privately held search technology company based in Bedford, Mass., and will integrate its operations into the Information Management Division of the IBM Software Group. Financial details were not disclosed.

iPhrase, the 15th software acquisition IBM has made in four years, has developed and marketed specialized search software for e-commerce sales, online service and support, and call centers, which enables Web site users to quickly find answers, make purchases and solve problems without requiring expert assistance.

For example, retailers use the Web-based iPhrase technology to help interpret and understand online customer queries, even if they are misspelled or contain jargon.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about how IBMs new WebSphere is challenging JBoss.

"IBM is basically adding another set of extensive dictionaries to its own enterprise search capabilities," Sue Aldrich, analyst and senior vice president of Patricia Seybold Group, told Ziff Davis Internet.

"Its not uncommon for large companies to have 12 or more different kinds of search within their systems, used for specific things like customer resources, office supplies and others. Wouldnt it be nice to just have one good one that works across the whole company?" she said.

"iPhrases software is very adept at finding results within very complicated product lines—like items with 50 or more parameters. For example, if a user wanted to find a specific kind of chip at National Semiconductor, it might take a lot of query guesses for someone to finally find the right one. Using iPhrase, it could take seconds," Aldrich said.

iPhrase already plugs right into the IBM WebSphere software, so its a natural fit, Aldrich added.

iPhrase software also is customizable in that it enables merchandisers to dynamically generate customized Web pages with relevant products and shopping cart links, based on individual customer needs, the company said.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...