YellowBrix aims at portal productivity

All dressed up and nowhere to go. That’s how many companies find themselves after rolling out Web portal packages, which offer snazzy user interfaces but little ready-to-display information.

Enter YellowBrix Inc. The company offers a combination of automatic content-classification software and Web syndication services that help companies fill Web portals with targeted information from internal and external sources.

YellowBrix uses artificial intelligence to classify and summarize volumes of textual information with its flagship offering, ArchiText Information Management Solutions. In August, YellowBrix bought iSyndicate Content Solutions, which delivers a real-time Web news service that is categorized into vertical industries.

YellowBrix has integrated the two offerings and packaged them into hosted services and licensed software for populating Web portals. The company has developed plug-ins for portal packages from Oracle Corp., IBM Corp., SAP AG, Epicentric Inc. and others.

In February, YellowBrix will ship a new version of ArchiText that adds contextual recommendations for content classifications, similar to the technology underlying search engines. The pricing for a licensed version of ArchiText is between US$80,000 to US$100,000.

YellowBrix has created a new term – automated information provisioning – to describe what it does to populate Web portals with relevant information.

“When companies buy portal software, it’s an empty portal,” says Jace Wieser, CTO of YellowBrix. “We help them get existing Web information into the portal…as well as corporate data that can reside anywhere.”

YellowBrix is targeting corporate intranets, having lined up such customers as Lincoln Life, Lehman Brothers and ABN Amro. But the majority of its customers are commercial Web sites run by publishers such as AOL Time Warner and CNN.

One media company that recently purchased ArchiText and iSyndicate as a hosted service is Hanley-Wood, which publishes 40 magazines and 10 Web sites for the construction industry.

Mitch Rouda, president of Hanley-Wood’s Internet division called ebuild, says the YellowBrix service helped improve the company’s Web content management and its news delivery.

“We have separate editorial teams for most of our titles, but there’s content on one title that might be interesting to readers of another title,” Rouda says. “We had this goal of getting all our content into one bucket and having an extraction method so all of our editors could use it. We also needed daily content on our site.”

YellowBrix puts Hanley-Wood’s content into one system so it can be shared across all Web sites. Hanley-Wood also has access to information from 2,600 other news sources. The service automatically selects and summarizes construction-oriented news stories so Hanley-Wood’s editors don’t have to scan the news wires.

Hanley-Wood spent three months getting the YellowBrix service ready for its flagship publication, Builder Magazine, which went live in September.

While YellowBrix’s service is ideal for editorial applications such as Hanley-Wood’s, the software faces competition in the portal market, says Laura Ramos, a research director with Giga Information Group. Many small companies such as Autonomy and Stratify offer automatic text-classification tools for portals, while Factiva, NewsEdge and Screaming Media offer syndicated Web content.

Ramos says YellowBrix’s technology for categorizing editorial content is good, but “how will they deal with things that are not HTML documents? How will they deal with repositories, e-mail systems and documentation systems? That’s where it starts to get complex.”