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Corporate search hybrid gets upgrade

InQuira, formed last year from the merger of two competitors, releases its first fully integrated corporate search tool just as the market for such software heats up.

A year after the shotgun marriage that formed InQuira, the company gave birth Monday to the first fully integrated edition of its corporate search software.

InQuira launched last spring after venture capitalists for its constitutive companies Electric Knowledge and AnswerFriend declined to fund them until they merged. The resulting company, based in San Bruno, Calif., released InQuira 5 in June. But only with Monday's launch of InQuira 6 are the two companies' once-competing software titles fully combined.

Since InQuira formed a year ago, the market for corporate search has taken off. The last five months alone have seen a flurry of activity and consolidation, with Verity buying Inktomi's corporate search business and Overture Services picking up search technology from Fast Search & Transfer and AltaVista. Google, too, is developing technology for its own corporate search applications.

InQuira 6 offers "significant enhancements" over its previous version, said Chuck Williams, president of InQuira. These include what InQuira calls the Dynamic Navigation User Interface, which presents the searcher with related resources in an attempt to anticipate follow-up queries.

The software also offers search analysis functions, based on the online analytical processing protocol for searching databases to identify patterns and trends.

"We think it significantly changes the customer experience on enterprise Web sites," Williams said. "It's specifically targeted at making self-service more effective and Web sites more effective as a marketing channel."

Williams touted the product's feature for presenting information related to the search, calling it a way out of traditional search's "tunnel vision problem."

"Even if you are successful with a search and find an answer, you may wind up deep in the bowels of a site somewhere," Williams said. "Research shows that searchers on e-commerce sites have a smaller average basket size than surfers. That dynamic extends to all sites, because when you search, you typically don't learn enough about the information you don't have that you don't know enough to ask for."

The Dynamic Navigation User Interface results can be both automated and editorially produced.

InQuira 6 is available for a $150,000 perpetual license, with an 18 percent annual maintenance fee.

Companies using the new product include existing InQuira clients BEA Systems, and Bank of America's Web site, along with Honda, a new client.