Endeca, based in Cambridge, Mass., is a relative newcomer in the enterprise search arena. The company was founded in 1999 and spent the first 2 years or so in R&D before building a sales and marketing team for its fledgling products. By mid-2003, the company, now up to 100 employees, announced that, since the launch of its first commercial product, it had done $20 million in business bookings in just 18 months.
On Oct. 1, Endeca announced version 4.0 of its two cornerstone products, Endeca InFront, an e-commerce and catalog search solution, and Endeca ProFind, an enterprise search solution. The upgrades offer enhanced enterprise-class search capabilities; additional security; an enhanced Developer Studio; new multilingual support; and Compound Dimension Search, a patent-pending new approach to multiword queries.
The heart of Endeca's products is its Endeca Search and Guided Navigation engine, which combines full-text searching with navigation capabilities. The company says that this easily integrated platform is different from other search engines because of its ability to discover relevant relationships in data and find accurate and precise results with unprecedented speed.
Endeca InFront 4.0 lets businesses use the power of Endeca Search and Guided Navigation to provide customized search to site visitors and utilize dynamic merchandising for highlighting products on a site (to encourage more purchases). It's used for catalogs, directories, and retailers. Customers include barnesandnoble.com, Eddie Bauer, and PC Connection.
Endeca first launched Endeca ProFind in the third quarter of 2002. Version 4.0 offers new security features; three new adapters for increased integration capabilities; added language support, including Japanese and Chinese (in partnership with Basis Technology); and increased performance, scalability, and reliability.
ProFind can handle all types of content within an enterprise, both structured and unstructured, including databases, documents, or e-mail. Business partners like ClearForest provide rules-based, native, entity, and concept extraction from the content. ProFind can be integrated with existing taxonomies. According to Endeca, ProFind 4.0 also introduces a new patent-pending search technique that addresses multiword/natural language queries—without the high cost of NLP setup and maintenance.
David Gourley, CTO of Endeca, said: "ProFind 4.0 is the result of extensive research and development into what companies and business users require to locate and access information across the enterprise, regardless of location or format type. As a result, the new and enhanced features in Endeca ProFind 4.0 allow businesses to search, navigate, retrieve, and use their data in groundbreaking ways."
Last fall, Information Handling Service (IHS) Engineering adopted Endeca ProFind. According to IHS, it has helped eliminate the "million or none" problem in which the burden is placed on the user to describe items in a way that's recognizable to the system. This often results in a long list of irrelevant results or no results at all.
"Endeca offers a comprehensive solution that combines search and navigation—something that other vendors are lacking—allowing users to search through our more than 1.5 million online technical information documents and products catalogs and easily find what they are looking for," said Randy Weil, president and COO of IHS Engineering. "We've seen incredible results much faster than we had anticipated. The fact that we were able to get up and running quickly, combined with improved user experience and significant cost savings, is a competitive edge in today's economic climate."
Not the Only Game in Town Nearby, outside Boston, another company offers what it calls its Synchronized Search and Navigation platform. EasyAsk, a provider of information access software for Global 2000 enterprises, recently announced EasyAsk Enterprise 9, its platform for "unifying all forms of enterprise content and enabling information access across commerce, service, and decision-support activities." EasyAsk is used by companies like Lands' End and GlaxoSmithKline.
Also, don't forget about some of the big-name players in the enterprise search space that have been around longer, including Autonomy, Verity (which purchased Inktomi's enterprise search), Convera, and FAST (which also purchased the AltaVista enterprise search business from Overture). Google also operates in this market with its Google Search Appliance. None of these companies is standing still.
It's obviously a big need to fill (and there's a lot of money to be made) with the right products that do much more than just offer keyword searching. The trend in products now is to integrate entity extraction, linguistic technologies, taxonomies, and classification to provide better search results with less work. So there's a lot of room for competitors, innovators, and upstarts.