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Jeeves Inks Pharma Deal, FAST Unveils Upgrade

Jeeves Solutions, the enterprise search arm of Ask Jeeves , has inked a contract with Aventis Pharmaceuticals, its third deal with a drug manufacturer in the last year. Neither the duration nor value of the pact was disclosed.

JeevesOne will provide natural language search allowing doctors, patients and other visitors to find information about cancer, diet and exercise and treatment regimens. And Jeeves Analytics will enable Aventis to tailor content by analyzing questions posed by visitors.

"Natural language technology humanizes the online experience and lets Aventis communicate effectively with its customers during a difficult time," said Skip Battle, president of Emeryville, Calif.-based Jeeves Solutions.

The applications are also expected to cut Aventis' call center costs. Recent studies report that the cost of serving customers through Web-based self-service is between 18 cents and $1, while the cost of a live operator is between $4 and $15.

The contract with France-based Aventis is Jeeves Solutions' third with a drug maker. In February, it signed Novartis Pharmaceuticals and last year it broke into the sector with a smaller deal with Roche.

A Jeeves spokeswoman said the field is attractive because of the number of people seeking health information over the Web and the volume of data that needs to be organized and presented. Aventis, the spokeswoman said, did not have a search provider before signing with Jeeves.

In other enterprise search news, Fast Search & Transfer (FAST), of Norway, unveiled an upgrade. FAST Data Search 3.2 can be used enterprise-wide or within departments, and has two major features: live analytics and a business manager's control panel.

Live analytics enables a user searching for a new computer on a PC maker's site could specifically obtain results for computers under $2,500 and use drill down tools to specify the RAM, display resolution and other features they want.

The business manager's control panel offers customization tools. For example, if a company implements a campaign based around a certain product feature set, and a user enters a query relevant to that product, the manager can easily 'boost' that data's relevance so that the campaign's landing page link is placed more prominently.

Other improvements include advanced linguistics support for Japanese was added, and automatic language detection was increased to support 54 languages. FAST Data Search also now includes enhanced security features and supports HP-UX and Red Hat Linux Advanced Server, in addition to IBM AIX, Red Hat Linux, Solaris, and Windows 2000/XP.