Wondering when someone would come out with a technology to make searching financial Web sites less tedious? iPhrase Technologies believes it has the answer. With the launch of its new search engine, the company hopes to help users navigate and find information on financial Web sites with minimal time and effort. Unlike most search engines that simply look for key words, iPhrase's tool allows a user to enter a query in natural language and interprets it using smartlanguage-understanding capabilities as well as key words.
According to Noam Ben-Ozer, CEO and co-founder of iPhrase, the result of iPhrase's patented innovations in search technology is that the "likelihood to understand a user is far greater." The search tool will enable a user to quickly find specific answers in the piles of data available on a company's Web site.
For example, a user may input as a search string, "Tell me the P/E, market cap and mailing addresses for SunMicrosystems, Intel and Dell Computers." The search engine will search the Web site's data resources, and swiftly generate a concise chart containing that information.
The software is comprised of several different componentscomplex algorithms mostly programmed in C++, Ben-Ozer says. A user inputs a query into the dialogue box found on the user interface, at which point it breaks down the query into its meaning, using the smart language-understanding engine and domain-specific knowledge programmed into it during the customization. For instance, if a user were examining a stock's "profitability," the program would know to seek such information as its P/E ratio and revenue.
Next, a component known as the iPhrase Quarterback examines the broken-down query and seeks the information from the appropriate data sources by directing an Intelligence Content Interface. This interface sifts through URLs, databases or the Web site map and then brings the results to the Quarterback. The Quarterback in turn sends the information to a response-generation engine, which formats it for the user and sends the response in either XML or HTML, he adds.
The software is compatible with most platforms, including Sun Solaris, Unix and Windows NT, as well as most databases, including Oracle. Ben-Ozer says the integration usually entails a 10- to 16-week process of creating interfaces with the company's Web site and with its data centers and then testing the software. He also says iPhrase would be willing to host and maintain the server, and he says iPhrase would be willing to co-locate the servers.
One of the company's first clients is Charles Schwab & Co., which plans to implement the search tool on its Web site by early autumn, Bob Sofman, senior vice president for product development, says. Sofman explains that Charles Schwab is hoping to increasingly "humanize" a customer's Web experience.
"We wanted to make sure that we didn't get to the point that customers were complaining about navigation or complaining they couldn't get done what they wanted."
According to a project manager at Schwab, the customer will interface with the Schwab Web site, www.schwab.com. The inquiry will be sent and processed at an iPhrase server and then sent back to Schwab where the answer will be reformatted and sent to the customer.