Making Online Data Easier to Find

iPhrase, Kaidara, Endeca each rolling out new search, navigation tools.

Several software developers are rolling out new products designed to make online business sites easier to navigate and cull information from.

In new software from iPhrase Technologies Inc., Kaidara Software and Endeca Technologies Inc., each company is trying to provide this functionality, however, in different ways.

iPhrase this week will announce One Step 4.0, its self-service search and navigation platform, featuring a new technology called Interaction Advantage. Using a natural language interface, One Step 4.0 allows users to access information resources from inside and outside the enterprise to provide relevant responses to their queries, guide them to related resources, and cross-sell and upsell relevant products and services.

Other features include multiple-language support, improved business intelligence through expanded reporting and new Web-based administration tools.

The One Step 4.0 platform combines conceptual understanding, multisource retrieval and a dynamic presentation layer. The software also lets users apply business rules to improve interactions for end users and the enterprise, according to officials at iPhrase, in Cambridge, Mass.

Other new features in this version include presentation templates that offer multiple panes of information simultaneously; presentation control that highlights the most relevant resources; intelligent domain selection that identifies the best subset of resources from available data, documents and applications; and business-rule control that gives business unit owners control of the priority and relevancy algorithms that help determine results.

Separately, Kaidara, a Paris-based company attempting to build a presence in North America, released similar technology last week with its Advisor and Dialog products.

The two products work in tandem. Advisor 2.0 provides the knowledge base that information is stored in, and Dialog provides the natural language query interface that users pose questions to to access this knowledge base.

Tailored mainly to customer support applications, Advisor captures and retains expertise from an organization and requires little ongoing effort to be constantly updated, according to company officials, in Los Altos, Calif.

Dialog is able to interpret terms and related concepts, numbers, synonyms, acronyms, and abbreviations correctly, officials said. It triggers the generation of clarifying questions to refine the customers request, increasing accuracy and relevancy of the response, officials said.

While not a natural language query tool per se, Endecas ProFind, also announced last week, is an enterprise search and navigation tool that constantly refines results based on a users initial query, using a library science concept called metarelational indices.

ProFind integrates structured and unstructured data and shows the user how results were arrived at to make it easier to redefine searches, said company officials in Cambridge.

ProFind is targeted at retail, financial services and business-to-business applications.

Information Handling Services Inc., an Englewood, Colo., company that provides access to engineering documents on a subscription basis, uses ProFind to help customers navigate that information.

ProFind generates results faster, lowers system overhead, and requires less configuration and administration, said Paul Magin, vice president of product development at IHS.

"It reduced our costs and complexity and created a higher potential for a better user experience," said Magin.