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New search engine promises real answers

Network World Fusion

(IDG) -- A new breed of search engine companies is looking to redefine the way we find electronic information by returning answers to questions rather than a list of possible documents containing answers.

One of the companies helping define the category is AnswerLogic, which last week introduced its answer engine dubbed AE1. The engine, which will be initially offered as a hosted service, uses topic-specific lexicons to categorize information on a Web site.

AE1 uses a natural-language processor to learn the content of a document and to understand the meaning of a question entered into its search box. This allows questions to be asked that do not necessarily contain the same words that could appear in a correct answer.

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"The benefit of a natural-language approach is that you get performance superior to regular keyword searches," says Jackie Fenn, a vice president at Stamford, Conn., market research firm Gartner Group. "You're taken to the exact location in the document, not just to a document that may contain an answer."

AnswerLogic will first target the IT and financial services markets with the service as well as with future enterprise editions of the software.

Khera Communications of Rockville, Md., will soon be using AE1 on its MoreBusiness.com Web site as a virtual small-business advisor, says CEO Raj Khera. "The [virtual] small-business advisor will be for users that want specific answers for questions like 'Where do I go for venture capital funding?'" Khera says. "Getting an answer will be a lot better than getting the list of documents [from MoreBusiness.com] that could contain an answer."

Khera says his company will retain its current site search engine and compare how the two work together.

The hosted AE1 service is available for a base price of around $5,000 per month. During the first quarter of next year, the company will offer a site license priced between $250,000 and $500,000.




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