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Endeca Provides Latitude for Information Retrieval and Analysis
Posted On March 28, 2005
Endeca Technologies, Inc. (, known as a provider of enterprise search solutions, has announced a new product that adds aggregation, analytics, and visualization to its capabilities for handling structured data and unstructured content. The new Endeca Latitude uses the same search and browse technology, called Guided Navigation, that is the foundation of Endeca's enterprise search (Endeca ProFind) and e-commerce search (Endeca InFront) solutions. Latitude goes a step further and provides a framework for applications that let nontechnical business users access, discover, and analyze business data with one set of toolsówithout needing to involve the IT department for custom queries and reports.

Latitude uses a combination of search, browse, and query tools to let users discover and visually explore structured and unstructured information from diverse silos of content. The charting and data visualization capabilities aid in interacting with and understanding business data. The product includes pre-built content adapters that allow integration with a range of database and content platforms, including Oracle databases, CRM systems, newsfeeds, research reports, and more.

"The parallel universes of content and data continue to draw together. In the past year, database and BI [business intelligence] vendors such as SPSS, SAP, and Oracle have made forays into the content world. Now we see ventures by content technology vendors into the structured data world," said Henry Morris, group VP and GM of Integration, Development, and Application Strategies at IDC. "Endeca Latitude is a good example of a hybrid that has one foot firmly planted in each camp. By hiding the more complex query tools behind a simpler browse and search interface, it allows even those who are not adept at using specialized BI applications to create reports and interact with data."

Endeca Latitude
Click for larger image

Vinay Mohta, product manager for Latitude, says that most BI tools are just too complicated for most business users. He said that Latitude brings the functionality and ease of use needed by these people, while offering an enterprise's IT department a platform and the necessary APIs to build a high performance, scalable application that encompasses disparate sources. Endeca provides a generic interface template, and the company's services team is available for customization.

The product evolved from Endeca's work in building custom solutions for several financial services organizations. One customer, MFS Investment Management, uses the combination of information retrieval and analysis capabilities to provide retirement services to its customers. Working with Endeca, MFS developed and deployed an internal analytics application that enables its call center representatives and account representatives to answer client questions without involving IT for custom querying and reporting.

"Endeca allows you to replace the custom reporting cycle with self-service reporting and analysis, so you're cutting out the middlemanówhich in our case was IT. Now, our employees can get answers directly and cut out the inherent iterative processes to get the right answer," said Brendan Nolan, senior vice president of distribution technology at MFS. "We've tried to do this in the past with other BI tools, but they never took hold. Our end users are experts in their own world, but they're not experts in writing reports. Unless it's really easy to use, adoption rates will be minimal."

Most BI products are offered with seat-based licensing. Mohta said Endeca is definitely targeting the BI market, but it wants to allow enterprises to extend the application to large numbers of users. Therefore, Endeca Latitude is licensed per CPU and application and can thus prove to be more cost-effective for organizations. Typical deployment costs can run in "the low hundreds of thousands to $1 million plus."

By the way, Steve Papa is the chairman and co-founder of Endeca. Before starting Endeca, he was at the search engine company Inktomi, where he worked with unstructured data on a massive scale. Before that, he was at the data warehouse company Teradata, where he worked on structured data on a massive scale.

Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.

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