The Dialog Corp.'s Information Services Division (http://www.dialog.com) has launched two services designed to improve its intranet and Web offerings. PowerPortal lets users tailor a personal, customized gateway to DialogSelect content, merged with access to non-Dialog Web-based resources. It uses the pre-formatted search forms from DialogSelect. The knowledge-management software, packaged as the k-working suite, includes k-discovery (a search, retrieval, and automatic categorization tool that accesses both internal and external data), k-alerts (a current-awareness intelligent agent), and k-InfoSort (an unbundled version of the data extraction and database building proprietary tool). With the k-working launch, Dialog introduces itself as a major software provider to enterprise systems.
With PowerPortal (http://powerportal.dialog.com), organizations and individuals can develop customized search forms for reaching specific information sources. A "wizard" walks users through the process of creating a PowerPortal interface. Information professionals may specify search forms and design elements to satisfy the specific information needs of individual or groups of clients. They may even brand the PowerPortal they create with a company logo or relevant institutional information. Users may then further personalize the interface by adding links to other internal (intranet) and external (Web) URLs.
Users can access PowerPortal directly from the Internet or via a corporate network. Domain access provides seamless intranet integration, allowing users to connect from a desktop via the corporate intranet without requiring a password. Personal selections display each time the user accesses the site, and a Dialog subscription enables the user to retrieve information from the DIALOG databases.
DialogSelect supplies the over 200 search forms offered in PowerPortal, which reaches over 300 business, legal, scientific, and technical databases. The user-friendly forms eliminate the need to learn expert search commands. Once a user specifies key concepts or areas of interest, the system selects the relevant databases, formulates a multi-file search strategy, and automatically eliminates duplicate results. Users can also save searches as Dialog Alerts to receive title lists of new entries via e-mail.
Dialog describes PowerPortal as "... a simple, no-cost alternative to the Dialog Intranet Toolkit, which is more suitable for organizations requiring enhanced flexibility to customize search forms and other aspects of the portal site."
Although users pay no extra charge for building a site using PowerPortal, they still have the usual costs to pay as a Dialog subscriber for Dialog data content.
To break into the U.S. knowledge-management arena, Dialog has launched a suite of knowledge-working or "k-working" software packages designed to integrate internal and external information sources.
The k-working line now comprises three products. The Discovery software searches and extracts data based on key concepts and either natural-language or Boolean queries defined by the user. It uses linguistic inference technology to "learn" the user's preferences. Institutions can automatically create and modify taxonomies targeted to specific user needs.
The Alert software creates intelligent agents to notify users of new or updated information when it becomes available. Each agent works with users to refine areas of interest using filtering, feedback monitoring, and suggestions as to revised search strategies. Both software packages suggest related topical information.
The third element in the package is the U.S. launch of a stand-alone version of InfoSort, Dialog's proprietary indexing technology that automatically categorizes structured information to business taxonomies, including market sector, scope terms, locations, and company names. InfoSort can read documents and automatically assign index categories and customize use to match individual, departmental, and institutionwide taxonomies.
Dialog expects to roll out more products in the k-working line over the next few months, including mapping of sources and collaboration processes that support virtual communities. All will be intranet-based and use Web browser access. Information managers can use an administration suite to enhance the service, to monitor the type and volume of information distributed, to track and modify the number of people using the system, and to define the frequency of automatic updates.
The k-working products integrate with a number of existing databases, including Lotus Notes, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and other systems. They can pull information from external sources, including the Web, and proprietary sources; they do not limit access to DIALOG databases.
Dialog will sell Discovery, Alert, and InfoSort as separate modules or as an integrated package. For single server installation, InfoSort starts at $25,000, Discovery starts at $12,000, and Alert starts at $12,000. (None of these prices includes any expenses for gathering data from Dialog or any other source.) For more information about the k-working suite, call The Dialog Corp. at 919/461-7348 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. As of early November, the demonstration site for the k-working line was still under construction.