Endeca Technologies, Inc. (http://endeca.com), a leading company in search and navigation for online e-commerce and enterprise, announced a new 5.0 version of their Information Access Platform (IAP). Key features of this upgrade include relationship discovery, extended data source integration, and greater business control. Together, these features incorporate aspects of both full-text search and business intelligence.
Analyst firm AMR Research (http://www.amrresearch.com) implemented Endeca's dynamic navigation and search for accessing the highly structured documents on their client-facing site, replacing a more traditional search engine. The project was a great success, according to Michael Melanson, vice president of IT. Based on the company's experience and its exposure to extensions of the technology at an Endeca customer conference, AMR implemented Endeca as a business intelligence (BI) tool in only 6 months. Within the CRM system, it created an executive dashboard that dynamically adjusts when managers drill into the data.
Faceted Metadata Search
The previous version of Endeca's Information Access Platform provided faceted metadata search and browse, which dynamically generates navigation links based on the current position of the site visitor. The navigation links, called Guided Navigation by Endeca, provide valuable context for both search and site browsing. In addition to a list of search results, faceted metadata systems show navigation links based on attributes of the search result items. Besides topical taxonomies, faceted metadata systems can include attributes such as date, author, product line, price, color, etc. Essentially, instead of forcing site visitors to use complex fields for advanced search, faceted metadata unfolds the possibilities, presenting only links to pages that fit the search parameters. Research by Marti Hearst, associate professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information (http://www.ischool.berkeley.edu/~hearst), has shown that simple attributes are very valuable in letting customers and researchers find what they seek.
Faceted metadata search systems have been widely implemented in online e-commerce sites, for example, product catalogs with their structured data. The ROI for improving searches in this arena is easy to measure. Endeca is installed at http://www.homedepot.com and http://www.walmart.com and handles hundreds of queries every minute. In addition, library catalogs are moving toward faceted data search and browse. The University of North Carolina (http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/catalog) provides results with attributes exposed, using Endeca for their platform.
Version 5.0 has a new feature called Relationship Discovery, which leverages a richer metarelational index that can support ad hoc dynamic connections for related content. This content can then be displayed using visualization tools pioneered by business intelligence, such as charts and graphs. Melanson found these features especially useful and reported great success with Endeca's implementation of BI.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has been using an early version of these features that combined dozens of sources for interactive research. They say that it has successfully helped speed up analysis and encouraged collaboration.
To create the index, Endeca offers its own term extraction for noun phrases and entity extraction for people, locations, and organizations. It can also work with a tagging dictionary or vocabulary already in use within an enterprise. In addition, the indexing pipeline can use other entity-extraction systems to locate meaningful elements within a document.
Security and access control permissions can be added to the index, e.g., to hide content from users who do not have authorized access. These settings are simply another facet of each item.
To better access enterprise data stores, Endeca is adding adaptors for indexing outside content, including salesforce.com, Inc.; IBM WebSphere; EMC Corp.; and EMC Documentum. It supports IBM's IUMA unstructured information management architecture and now runs on Solaris 10, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, and .NET Framework 2.0. This version of Endeca can also use the IBM DB2 Alphablox reporting and visualization tools.
Additional Business Control
For large business teams, version 5.0 of Endeca's IAP offers additional business control with specific permissions for each administrator. It also provides interactive relevancy control, which is particularly valuable in online e-commerce. A/B testing allows search administrators to present two different versions to users to compare their effectiveness.