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Ask Jeeves inks deal with Vignette

Ask Jeeves Inc. (Nasdaq: ASKJ) announced Tuesday a partnership with Vignette Corp. (Nasdaq: VIGN) that will integrate its e-commerce and customer-support software with Vignette 's e-business platform.

Shares in Ask Jeeves, provider of question answering technologies to Internet users and corporate customers, closed at 20 9/16 Monday, well below its 52-week peak of 190 1/2. Shares in Vignette, a supplier of e-business applications, closed at 37 11/16, below a 52-week high of 100 5/8.

The deal will help Ask Jeeves provide an online content management system for enterprises to help them respond quickly to customers questions.

The deal is significant because "it positions (Ask Jeeves) as an enterprise wide customer relations platform" said Safa Rashtchy of U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray. Vignette is a high profile company in the applications space that should help attract new clients, he added.

By working in the Vignette Application Foundation layer, Ask Jeeves will help companies identify and update missing content with an automated process. When content holes are identified via Ask Jeeves' solutions, this data is then entered into the Vignette V/5 Content Management Server.

``The Ask Jeeves-Vignette alliance will not only enhance the value of Ask Jeeves services, it will enable us to extend our services to Vignette's more than 1,000 customers,'' said Sean Murphy, VP of products at Ask Jeeves.

The deal is one in a string of many for Ask Jeeves, which is beefing up the enterprise side of its business.

On Monday, the company inked a deal with Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), which will use its question answering service for its customers. Ask Jeeves' experience answering more than 450,000 questions per month about cars on Ask.com will help Ford anticipate questions and deliver relevant answers to customers worldwide, the companies said.

The company also has deals with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), About.com (Nasdaq: BOUT) and Compaq Computer (NYSE: CPQ) to provide its natural language software for customer inquiries.