Enterprise Search Entry from, Surprise, Xerox

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With the pent-up demand for a search product that could sift through all of the piles of disparate enterprise data and deliver results of value to users, we figure it's only a matter of time before at least one vendor gets it right.


So who will it be? Google, the undisputed king of consumer search? IBM, which recently partnered with Yahoo on an entry-level search product designed to thwart Google's advance into the enterprise?


Oracle, which hopes to leverage its data warehousing and business intelligence chops with its Secure Enterprise Search 10g product? An enterprise search specialist like Autonomy?


Or it could come from a company not normally associated with enterprise search -- like say Xerox, which has been trying to expand beyond its copy machine roots with document managment and consulting businesses.


Xerox is introducing text-mining tool software that it says mimics the way humans think, speak and pose queries, reports silicon.com. When users submit queries, they'll get relevant answers rather than a stack of sources that include keywords -- but little if any usable information.


"This is completely different from searching on Google because we can drill down to certain levels of detail," says a Xerox engineer. Unlike Google and other popular consumer search engines, Xerox's FactSpotter employs a linguistics engine to analyze the meanings of words as well as the construction of sentences and phrases submitted by users.


It's an approach that sounds a lot like the Semantic Web to us, seeing as how a Xerox manager describes it as "trying to make a computer understand text like a human being."


For now, the company has no plans to sell FactSpotter as a standalone application. Instead, it hopes it will help differentiate Xerox from competing document management products. Its first customers will be document-intensive businesses such as law firms.