RealTime IT News

On the Info Fast Track

Putting a new spin on search, Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) has released a new enterprise application at the intersection of content management and market intelligence.

The offering, dubbed Marketrac, helps users at large companies and government agencies locate and analyze documents and data from disparate sources (225 formats and 77 languages) that are needed to make informed business decisions.

For example, a company's public relations team could customize the software to scan a variety of media sources for reports that mention the firm or its business sector.

Staffers are presented with the results via a portal, which gives team members the same information at the same time, thus reducing the amount of time searching the Web and e-mailing relevant links to colleagues. There is also a real-time alert feature.

But what makes the offering unique from traditional news aggregation feeds is a "sentiment analysis tool." Based on an algorithm that breaks down documents, paying close attention to adjectives and adverbs, the technology rates whether the tone of the article is positive or negative.

With this, users can either see if their efforts are effective or if they've failed to convey a certain point or defend a certain charge by a competitor. By setting a range of dates, users can also track trends: is the company's name getting better or worse in public perception?

"It's not just searching for presence or absence of terms. Now you have the ability to further crack open the DNA of the document," Lee Phillips, FAST's director of intelligence solutions, told internetnews.com.

Among the test cases are a health care company, an investment firm and a telecom carrier. FAST also recognizes a need for the tool among government agencies and political campaigns. In each case, FAST builds a customized dictionary based on industry-specific terms, Phillips said.

The company will use increased worker productivity as a selling point. The research firm IDC estimates that more than 22 percent of corporate workers' time is spent searching for information in databases and online.

Marketrac's auditing tools could offer added savings by allowing lead managers to cancel expensive subscription content if employees aren't using it, Phillips said.

"There is a definite need in the market for a portal that combines content with functionality, and that pulls together external and internal sources of information," said Susan Feldman, research vice president of content technologies at IDC.

FAST is selling Marketrac for $12,000 per month, with a two-year agreement, or at $250,000 for a two-year term (unlimited number of seats/servers).

In other enterprise search news today, iPhrase Technologies said that PeopleSoft will integrate its Contact Classification Server into the PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM 8.9 suite. The combined offering will help companies automate online communication and enhance self-service.

Financial terms of the deal between the Pleasanton, Calif., enterprise software giant and the Cambridge, Mass., search firm were not disclosed.

In general, the search sector is enjoying a resurgence as investors and customers re-examine the value of search amid growing excitement for Google's IPO.