Firm Sharpens Self-help Tools

KnowledgeBase Solutions Inc. last week announced a new version of its flagship software, making it easier for users to create, retrieve and edit documents to be shared with employees and customers. 2.0 provides the tools companies need to build self-help features into corporate intranets and Web sites. The goal is for employees and customers to be able to find answers to their questions by searching a repository of text, audio and video files – without enlisting a help desk or customer service agent in the process.

The seven-month-old company touts the simplicity of its product: To add a document to a corporate repository, a user simply right-clicks his mouse.

For Xsense Connectivity, this means all its engineers can easily contribute to the company’s growing repository of technical notes, frequently asked questions, troubleshooting procedures and glossaries, says Howard Cheng, director of operations at the network equipment distributor. Xsense started using in July, and the company has built its knowledgebase to include 100 documents.

Support for Adobe PDF files is new in Version 2.0. Previous versions supported Microsoft applications, including Word and Excel, as well as Text and Rich Text Format files.

Version 2.0 also adds an authoring tool that lets users write documents directly to HTML, rather than converting word-processor documents. converts the files to HTML and indexes documents by keywords and phrases; alternatively, an administrator can override or expand upon those keywords. At the heart of the system is a search engine that supports keyword searches and natural language queries.

Customer queries are tracked, and the results can be used to fine-tune items such as frequently asked questions. In addition, can export visitor search records to a company’s customer relationship management (CRM) software so it can track prospects’ interests, for example.

New to in Version 2.0 is an “unanswered questions” report that points companies to the information its intranet users and Web site visitors are seeking.

KnowledgeBase competes with higher-end search vendors such as Ask Jeeves; CRM vendors with self-help functionality; and self-help software vendors such as eHelp. KnowledgeBase distinguishes itself by offering the tools not only to search for documents but also to populate the repository, says Alex Kazerani, KnowledgeBase CEO. 2.0 is available now. Customers can subscribe to the company’s application service or license the software and deploy it onsite. In the hosted version, pricing is based on the number of articles imported. For example, if a customer wants to store 5,000 articles, each article would cost 35 cents per month.

This pricing formula, which lets companies pay as they grow, was a strong selling point for Xsense, Cheng says. “The complete function set is open to customers of all levels,” he notes, whether a customer has 100 or 10,000 articles on the system.

Onsite software licences also are based on document volume and typically start at US$30,000 for an unlimited number of users.

Thus far, 350 companies subscribe to the hosted service, including Siemens ICN, Jamcracker and Noble Drilling. Only “a handful” of companies have deployed the product onsite, Kazerani says. is at