InQuira Antecedents: Answerfriend and Electric Knowledge

May 26, 2012

I have had to look up the antecedents for InQuira again. I wanted to create this post to make it easy to reference these two firms which were combined to create InQuira. InQuira was acquired by Oracle Corp. in that company’s push to address its long-standing search and content processing issues. I have in my Overflight system the 2006 InQuira marketing collateral which, I noticed, provides a crib sheet for the many enterprise search vendors piling into the customer support segment. What’s interesting is that customer support is one of the sectors where open source search is getting some attention.

The antecedents of InQuira were:

  • Answerfriend. The company had software which could understand text. In 2000, the company landed Accenture as a customer. Answerfriend pivoted on its natural language processing technology. Allegedly Answerfriend could handle both structured an unstructured data. Sound familiar in 2012?
  • Electric Knowledge Inc. This also was an NLP shop. The technology was based on computational linguistic technology. This company had licensed its technology to Bank of America, an outfit which has had a long history of trying to find a search system which meets its requirements.

InQuira was created in 2002. The notion of hooking together two separate vendors to do the 1+1=3 thing has been used more recently by Lexalytics and Attensity.

At one time, InQuira was the answer system used by Yahoo’s customer support service. I encountered this when I tried to cancel a Yahoo service. The InQuira service was not too helpful to me. I just killed the credit card and solved the problem.

The marketing pitch of InQuira is as fresh today as it was in 2002. How much progress has there been in search and content processing in the last decade? Could the marketing collateral for a 2002 Oldsmobile be used without any changes? Probably not. Search has a limited supply of jargon, and it gets recycled endlessly in my opinion.

Stephen E Arnold, May 26, 2012

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