Active Navigation seeks to improve portal searches

Attempting to strengthen search capabilities in enterprise intranets and portals, Active Navigation Ltd., formerly known as Multicosm, last month introduced a content management and search technology that offers advanced navigation and categorization functionality.

Portal Maximizer 2 is designed to automatically categorize and analyze site content, helping corporate employees and partners access relevant information quickly, according to company officials. The product analyzes content to identify the most important concepts and then indexes and links content on the fly without the need for HTML coding. Portal Maximizer integrates with existing publishing workflow products and Web security solutions.

Enterprises are struggling with the task of organizing volumes of information published to their intranets, portals, and public Web sites, according to Dabney Standley, vice president of marketing and U.S. operations at Active Navigation, which as its U.S. headquarters in San Francisco. This struggle is “an information problem, not a technology problem,” he said.

A finer grain of search and navigation on internal and external sites is needed to counter the problem, Standley said.

“It has been hard for users to interact with the search box on [intranet and portal] sites. Most people only type in a few words, and then they are left with a list, which may or may not be relevant to their search,” Standley said.

According to one analyst, containing the growing jungle of information is an increasingly difficult issue for corporations.

“The problem of categorizing and quickly accessing information in corporate enterprises is getting worse. Enterprises had been used to databases containing structured data. The Web has made unstructured data a lot more accessible and therefore something corporations have to put out,” said Guy Creese, research director for Internet analytics at Aberdeen Group Inc., in Boston.

“Now, Web sites with content management systems suddenly have this voracious appetite for content that also needs to be categorized. The better I can categorize content, really the better search becomes, and that is where Active Navigation comes in. Being able to correctly categorize documents is a requirement for really [handling] this Web-enabled world,” Creese said.

Version 2 of Portal Maximizer adds four new features to the first release of the product, which provided content cross-referencing functionality.

The new automatic content categorization feature manages a variety of enterprise content, such as internal and external documents, news feeds, spreadsheets, and data reports, as it enters a company’s content repositories. This categorization feature automates the process of tagging information with searchable keywords and categories, which in many organizations is done by hand, company officials said.

Using search results, the related documents feature tracks down other pages that address the same topics and dynamically updates the document with links as new information is available.

The embedded search function allows a keyword search conducted from a single search interface to probe across a variety of Web sites and stores of content, shortening the number of clicks to relevant information, according to Standley.

Portal Maximizer 2 also features the ability to summarize documents on the fly, which provides thorough summaries of found and related documents resulting from a search.

Portal Maximizer 2 is available now for Windows NT and 2000, Sun Solaris, and Linux platforms. Pricing is per server for portals, and per seat for intranets. An average sale starts at approximately US$75,000, according to the company.