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HOT PRODUCT: September '99

New functionality added to RetrievalWare

Excalibur Technologies (www.excalib.com) has unveiled Version 6.7 of its RetrievalWare, as well as a plug-in for Lotus (www.lotus.com) Notes that builds in much of the new technology for Notes users.

RetrievalWare (base priced at about $15,000), Excalibur's flagship knowledge and digital asset management retrieval solution, has received new Knowledge Categorization capabilities and an Experts Directory, both of which expand the functionality of the tool beyond standard search and retrieval.

Knowledge Categorization allows users (from individuals to corporatewide) to create categories of interest, which RetrievalWare will dynamically build and add to, allowing users to go to one place to navigate and tap information.

Experts Directory is an add-on designed to connect domain expert to users seeking to leverage that knowledge. Experts Directory also allows users of RetrievalWare to begin searching for more than document-based information and to include the human element of other users within the system. That, however, is not the specific focus of the product, as it is, for instance, with Abuzz's Beehive (www.abuzz.com) or Orbital's (www.orbitalsw.com) Organik.

According to The Delphi Group (www.delphigroup.com), "With this release, Excalibur has begun to move forward from its legacy of expertise analyzing many knowledge formats (multimedia and video as well as text) toward full knowledge application support."

While the "point release" of RetrievalWare boasts significant enhancements, probably the biggest news surrounding the release is a separate product based on it. That product is the RetrievalWare Power Search Plug-in for Lotus Notes (starting at $3,000). The plug-in extends the capability of RetrievalWare, according to VP of Marketing Mark Demers, to within the Lotus Notes/Domino environment minus the beefy installs. Users of the plug-in will be able to provide one query across more than 200 standard and proprietary document formats that frequently exist in the Notes environment.

Portal for sales and marketing

While the premise behind portals is to refine and tailor searches and information gathering, Glyphica (www.glyphica.com) is taking it one step further by developing corporate portals for specific job functions. InfoPortal 3.0 Sales Edition and InfoPortal 3.0 Marketing Edition (each starting at $225,000) channel pertinent business information and offer specific features to help close deals faster and retain and upsell customers.

Sales Edition users start with a virtual sales desk catered to the account manager's needs, including data, documents, tasks, discussions and market news feeds. Account managers can also link their virtual sales desk to the portal, a plus for the business traveler who gains Web access, making the tool as effective on the road as at the office.

Sales Edition features the ability to deploy ProspectNets, what Glyphica calls one-to-one portals or private extranets.

ProspectNets are offered to qualified prospects to facilitate collaboration through a long sales cycle. Within ProspectNets, parties can go through sales presentations and collateral, work on RFPs and even negotiate a final contract. ProspectNets are designed to be a secure environment for trading contracts, brochures and other documents.

Likewise, ERP (and other existing system) data can be accessed through those portals.

As the customer uses ProspectNets, sales managers are alerted to any changes made and even to what was reviewed and downloaded.

The Marketing Edition leverages much of the same functionality as the Sales Edition, but is designed to help marketing executives publish presentations, price sheets and brochures.

Utilization tools are built in, which allows the marketing executive to see how much each tool is used by the sales staff. It is set up to track and view competitive news, access and revise sales tools, tap into marketing automation systems and manage to-do lists and E-mail through a browser.

Get the latest from the Web

For Web users who frequent the same pages, scouring for changes or updates, NetMind Technologies (www.netmind.com) has just released Version 3 of a product that seeks to ease that burden. Mind-it--a free online service--allows registrants to track Web pages to see if any text-based updates have occurred. Notification, which is delivered in less than 24 hours (new to Version 3.0), can be done via E-mail or on a My Mind-it site, which acts as a portal to check updates.

While the free product does not offer the powerful functionality one might need for true competitive intelligence or other functions, it offers a clear starting point at no cost to business or personal users.

Of course NetMind has to make money somewhere and it does offer Enterprise Minder ($10 to $45 per seat), which is designed to provide competitive analysis, sales forecasting, proactive technical support and other higher level function. Enterprise Minder, like Mind-it, involves no software install and is totally Web and E-mail-based. Enterprise Minder offers an alert service through portable electronic devices (pagers, cell phones or Palm Pilot-type devices), which can also be added as an upsell to the free Mind-it product. While Mind-it, can do some basic number tracking, Enterprise Minder can do full number tracking (price tracking for instance). Likewise, the enterprise tool offers administrators features for tracking usage across the corporation.

Enterprise Minder can be applied to the Internet, and is particularly targeted to intranets and extranets. While, Enterprise Minder seems to be the corporate option, business users can gain from the free tool.

"I've used Mind-it for years on the job," said Jan Palin, automation processes engineer at NASA--Kennedy Space Center (www.ksc.nasa.gov). "Our primary use of Mind-it is to help us watch for changes to the Web pages listing critical payload schedules for flights on the space shuttle and expendable rockets."

Palin added, "We also monitor changes to launch schedules, which frees us from having to check these Web pages every day. Mind-it's 24-hour notification is often faster than the time it takes for the launch services manager to alert the team."

Safeguarding assets

HotBackup from CYA (www.cya.com) protects mission-critical information from hardware failure and administration errors. The online backup solution initially targets implementations of Documentum's (www.documentum.com) Enterprise Document Management System 98 (EDMS 98).

Sample pricing for one CYA Command Console (which includes one CYA HotBackup) and one Docbase/server (for unlimited clients) is $79,000.

CYA's backup strategy provides ease of use and flexibility through adaptable backup scheduling, customized system configuration, process-generated history or log files and a graphical user interface for document restoration.

According to a report about HotBackup from The Delphi Group (www.delphigroup.com), "The nature of the knowledge-based environment mandates that work in process at all levels be captured and synchronized. It is no longer only the ownership and process experiences that must be protected. This approach to backup and recovery protects the very essence of those functionalities that initiated the indoctrination of EDMS into knowledge management."

Future releases of CYA Hot Backup will include support of Microsoft SQL Server and Sybase databases.

CD-R/CD-RW for the laptop user

Ricoh Disc Media and Systems-Center (www.ricohdms.com) has released a CD-R and CD-RW drive designed to meet the needs of laptop PC users. Less than an inch tall and less than 360 grams, the Ricoh MediaMaster MP8040SE has been benchmarked for comparable recording and rewriting to Ricoh's high-performance MP7040A at a lower overall CPU utilization, which is important to laptop users.

MediaMaster MP8040SE ($549) also features a small pickup module and a SCSI interface card.

Dynamic portal is two-way street

Visual Mining (www.visualmining.com) has unveiled Decision.Control, a dynamic corporate decision portal, which allows a company to access information from a host of data sources within the organization and interact with it.

While most portals seem to be about searching and accessing data, Decision.Control users can create and manage content through the portal rather than opening applications through the desktop, understanding data structures or learning new reporting tools.

"While many corporate portal companies claim to give control to the enterprise users, they still must filter requests through IT staff," said Tom Dailey, president and CEO of Visual Mining. "Only Decision.Control truly gives users the ability to create their own views, form their own queries and mine their own data to help them make decisions."

Decision.Control (starting at $80,000) also has a professional services component that includes a visualization audit and implementation of customized views for the enterprise provided by Visual Mining consultants.

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