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FAST Launches Market Intelligence Application
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Posted On June 21, 2004
The Norwegian-based company Fast Search and Transfer (FAST) launched FAST ESP (Enterprise Search Platform) in January (http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=16523). At that time, it promised to develop and deliver search derivative applications (SDAs) based on the ESP platform that would address specific business problems. The company has now announced FAST Marketrac, an enterprise software solution that gathers, analyzes, and communicates critical market intelligence from multiple, disparate sources throughout an enterprise and the Web.

The task-focused SDA product not only accesses both internal and external information sources but provides the tools to analyze the content. A new option with this application is the ability to do market sentiment analytics. Organizations can gauge the public sentiment of the collected data using a graphical interface—positive, negative, or neutral sentiments or attitudes, exposure or traffic, satisfaction levels, and identify exceptional situations. It could be useful not just for marketing or brand management, but also for applications in politics, and in governmental assessments of national security threats.

"By aggregating collections of intelligence, FAST Marketrac enables companies to accurately analyze for exposure or traffic; track positive, negative, or neutral sentiment; and identify exceptional situations and recognize positive or negative momentum in time to capitalize on it or take preventive action," commented John M. Lervik, FAST's CEO.

FAST Marketrac indexes source material from more than 225 data formats and 77 languages, and continuously monitors and indexes new and updated information. FAST Marketrac provides organizations with what FAST calls a "virtual intelligence warehouse." This secure, inside-the-firewall warehouse integrates the separate silos of enterprise information into a single view, accommodating the structured data of enterprise database systems; the unstructured data of enterprise e-mail, presentations, confidential internal information, etc.; and syndicated news feeds, third-party research, and Web-published content.

Lee Phillips, director of intelligence solutions for FAST, explained: "Many Global 2000 organizations devote as much as 10 to 15 percent of their product marketing budgets to monitoring and protecting their brands. It stands to reason that these same organizations would want to incorporate the widest range of qualified sources, which includes information that resides within the firewall. Our Marketrac solution makes it possible for customers, and their existing and future service partners, to develop a full 360 degree perspective on sentiment about their brand."

FAST claims to be "the only enterprise search platform that gives companies a single point of access to all of their enterprise information—in real time, regardless of data format, structure, or location." The company calls it a 360 degree view of the enterprise.

Susan Feldman, vice president for content technologies research at IDC, said that FAST offers the most advanced integrated platform that combines tools for finding both content and data. She said she likes FAST's Marketrac. "Combining all kinds of information from disparate sources is not easy, and it is desperately needed by analysts and decision makers who often rely on incomplete information or unreliable information. The second aspect is the tools that enable them to analyze the information they have found—again, desperately needed."

In the coming months, FAST expects to launch several other SDAs focused upon solving specific business problems that are not adequately addressed by existing technologies. One area it is working on is risk management and fraud detection. Ali Riaz, FAST's chief operating officer, said: "The tremendous flexibility of FAST ESP is enabling FAST to take search to unprecedented levels with a variety of new and innovative search derivative applications."

The Marketrac system is priced at $250,000 for a 2-year agreement, or $12,000 per month. For further information on FAST Marketrac, see: http://www.fastsearch.com/intelligence.

Other companies are paying attention to the brand monitoring space as well. Factiva has partnered with IBM WebFountain to offer Reputation Manager (http://www.factiva.com/webfountain/) as a hosted ASP service (http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=16617). LexisNexis recently announced partnerships with Biz 360, a provider of technology-based analytic services for managing reputations and brands, and Cymfony, a provider of measurement, market analytics, and strategic consulting solutions. Expect to see additional partnerships between content and technology companies to provide these kinds of enterprise solutions.


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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