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Jeeves goes from outsourced butler to in-house software

Jeeves Solutions yearns to be more than a humble ASP servant.

Jeeves Solutions yearns to be more than a humble ASP servant. The Emeryville, Calif.-based division of Ask Jeeves Inc. wants to become a permanent in-house fixture.

Instead of handling customer queries outside a company's firewall, Jeeves Solutions said it has released an enhanced version of its application service provider (ASP) offering that sits on a company's own servers, allowing it to better answer customer questions.

The new packaged offering, called JeevesOne, builds on Jeeves Solutions' Answers 5.0, which was offered only on an ASP model. Because JeevesOne sits behind the customer's firewall, it can provide customer analytics and better integration with existing CRM and enterprise software, the company said.

The enterprise integration allows companies to escalate natural-language queries to e-mail or chat channels to find answers for the customers, according to James Speer, product manager at Jeeves Solutions.

"This is a great evolution of where Jeeves has been focusing to date," said Allen Bonde, director of management consulting at Boston-based CRM consulting firm Extraprise Inc. Self-service software is moving from the fringes of technology to a more mainstream way of serving customers, he said.

Additionally, Jeeves automated the editorial resources of Answers 5.0 for JeevesOne, which allows the software to associate the questions with the correct answers. It also supports 250 types of binary files, including Microsoft Word, to generate answers from these documents, he said.

Setup help

"We had to automate many of the processes that we traditionally did as a service," Speer said, commenting on the main difference between JeevesOne and Answers 5.0.

Jeeves offers a complementary set of software for JeevesOne to help IT departments install the application, as well as assist in backups and disaster recovery, Speer said.

The customer analytics of JeevesOne operate on the natural language queries that come into the system from customers. Once the questions are broken down, the data is ferried into a data mart with business intelligence software. JeevesOne is compatible with business intelligence software from Business Objects and Crystal Decisions, Speer said. The software also includes an ROI calculator to measure how much self-service is saving a company.

The analytics make JeevesOne a compelling offering, Bonde said. However, Jeeves does face a challenge in building out partnerships to further penetrate the market for self-service software, he said.

JeevesOne rounds out large CRM software packages, such as Siebel, and enhances e-CRM providers that conduct e-mail management and assisted selling activities, Bonde said.

"They're not competing (but) have a component role in the overall suite," Bonde said. "It's a lesson that a lot of people haven't learned -- that it is a lot easier to complement Siebel."

Pricing for JeevesOne starts at $100,000 for the first CPU, with additional licenses costing $20,000 apiece. The knowledge packs, which span banking, brokerage, hardware, software, networking, storage and customer service, cost $50,000 each. Dictionaries are $10,000 each.

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