Enterprise search technology provider Coveo has launched Coveo Expresso Beta, an entry-level enterprise search product available via a free download. The goal is to make the nearly 5-year-old company's technology more easily accessible and usable for the end customer.
"We have two goals. First, is to distribute this version to a lot of the smaller companies or departments that need indexing, but don't have the budget yet. The second objective is to use this product as a different sort of trial," says Laurent Simoneau, Coveo's president and CEO. "People may want to test Coveo before buying the big product and this may be the right option for them."
Users can download the product for free on the Coveo website (www.coveo.com/expresso). It's a business model borrowed from information management solution provider Copernic, Inc. (www.copernic.com), which specialized in desktop search for consumers and businesses and created Coveo as a spinoff company in 2005 with former Copernic customers on board. Simoneau says that Coveo has implemented a "land and expand" strategy, "meaning a large company may start with Coveo for a department and then expand to the rest of the organization or other departments," he explains. "We also have the ability to go after the big deal from an RFP standpoint, and we're able to compete with the market leaders." Coveo considers such vendors as Autonomy and Endeca to be market leaders.
Built on the same technology that the company's larger-scale product Coveo Enterprise Search operates, Coveo Expresso features an out-of-the-box web interface that can search users' email, laptops, intranets, files, and contacts. The new solution is targeted toward smaller userbases-up to 50 users (and email accounts); 1 million desktop files and emails, including attachments such as PDFs; and 100,000 intranet documents (50,000 Microsoft SharePoint documents and 50,000 files from file shares). Customers can easily upgrade to the Coveo Enterprise Search product if they require additional services.
Coveo Expresso features an Outlook Sidebar, an Outlook plug-in that enables users to search their email using a variety of criteria without requiring them to leave the Outlook interface and open a new browser from which to generate a new search. Users can view email conversations that are related to their search criteria, as well as attachments and contacts related to those searches-and all of those search results appear on the right side of their Outlook screen. For instance, if they want to search for all correspondence related to interactions with ABC Fuel and contact Laura Smith, the system enables them to easily identify such documents.
For users who don't operate in Outlook, Coveo Expresso offers a floating toolbar that can be activated instead, and it serves as the starting point for searches without forcing those users to abandon their preferred program to conduct a search. Simoneau notes how Coveo Expresso also offers the ability to originate searches from a mobile phone; the system allows for access for 50 BlackBerry users. So users can search email and their desktop files without a laptop or PC.
One difference between Coveo Expresso and Google Appliance is that the Google tool will not index emails, notes Simoneau. "Google will go after your email from a desktop search perspective or they will ask you to move your email to a Gmail account," he adds. "We think that a huge number of companies will not want to move their data outside of the exchange server. They want to keep their data secure."
Simoneau predicts that Expresso-through its functionality and business model-will increase user adoption. "This type of model is the way to go in 2009 and 2010," he says. "Companies are less and less inclined to spend a lot of money without knowing if [a solution] will work at the end. They don't like to take big risks anymore. A free-mium model is the best way to do it. We wanted this technology to be scalable and [to] be able to be downloaded in less than half an hour." He contends that competitors' offerings, such as those from Google, are too complex to download that quickly.
Stephen E. Arnold, a technology and financial analyst and president of Arnold Information Technology (ArnoldIT), says of the more than 50 search vendors he tracks, Coveo is one of the easiest to install. Of Coveo Expresso, Arnold says, "It's a way to package [solutions] that are complicated in an easy-to-deploy way" while giving them the ability to search across a multitude of channels. "It's a combination of a [successful] marketing plan and the presentation of search features in a non-threatening way," adds Arnold.
Still, Arnold says, Coveo needs to bolster its overall marketing efforts. "There is so much noise in the marketplace. They're going to have to ramp up and [generate] sales," says Arnold. "The free download is really important, but you also have to knock on doors."
Regardless, Simoneau is confident that Coveo Expresso will provide the company entry into many organizations that will eventually decide to opt for paid versions of Coveo technology-versions that provide more features and functionality than this newly released entry-level offering.
"Coveo Expresso will provide us with unique access to all of those small and medium businesses that have a need but don't have formal projects to get into a structured sales process," says Simoneau. "There are thousands of organizations waiting for that, and we want to be installed in those organizations. If we do a good job, these organizations will want to expand their licenses."