RealTime IT News

Going Searching For Enterprise

A new Silicon-Valley-based start-up making its official debut Monday is sure to ruffle feathers in the industry.

San Bruno, Calif.-based InQuira has come out of stealth mode with a new search engine, a new round of funding and a new host of big-name clients.

InQuira says its platform, based on its Natural Interaction Engine technology, is broken up into separate Self-Service, Search and Call Center products. The platform combines natural language processing used in self-service applications with the automated information retrieval technology used in enterprise search applications.

The platform also has pre-packaged dictionaries that let InQuira software interpret the intent of a user's question.

While natural language search engines are not new, Ask Jeeves has been doing it for years, InQuira claims its users receive answers in a single step, rather than simply being shown page titles or links, which require further levels of search.

"Natural language-based self-service and search holds enormous potential for enterprise-class companies across industry," said InQUIRA CEO Michael Murphy. "Our customers are demonstrating in live implementations that InQuira 5's innovative applications can - and do - deliver tangible return-on-investment, both in increased customer satisfaction and decreased costs for customer service and support.

InQuira 5 for Self-Service, Search and Call Centers starts at $150k. InQuira 5 is certified to run on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, Microsoft Windows 2000, Unix Solaris v7 and v8, Linux Kernel v2.2 and higher.

Unstructured data access includes HTML, XML, PDF, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Excel, Lotus Notes and newsgroups. Structured data access includes support for any ODBC-compliant database, including relational database products from Oracle, Microsoft, Sybase and IBM.

And don't think InQuira will have a hard time gathering up customers. The company's software, now in version 5, is already in use within some of the world's largest companies, including BEA Systems , Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, Sun Microsystems , Network Appliance and Sempra Energy where in some cases it has replaced keyword search and natural language self-service technologies of Ask Jeeves.

The company was founded earlier this year from a strategic merger of two former competitors - Answerfriend and Electric Knowledge - who were both in the process of raising their first institutional round of funding.

Because of their momentum and customer wins, the company said Partech International, Walden International and a third investor, Bank of America have made a new overall investment of $12.5 million in Series C Funding.

"Our customers need answers to questions and workable solutions to their problems. Anything less powerful is inadequate," said Bank of America Online Banking Group Senior Vice President, Internet e-Commerce Chris Danzi. Now our customers can find what they need quickly, using everyday language. They don't have to send an e-mail or pick up the phone to get answers, which means they're happier with the Bank of America Online Banking experience. And in turn, InQuira helps us learn from the questions that customers ask. InQuira 5 analytic reports tell us more about customer needs in terms of the site, sales and service. That kind of information is very valuable."