Recommind searches for experts

Enterprise search system indexes employee-related information from a variety of data repositories

Recommind Inc. has developed an enterprise search system designed to improve how professional services and consulting firms find employees with a specific set of skills, experience and know-how.

The application, called MindServer Expertise, indexes employee-related information from a variety of data repositories, like directories, content management systems, human resource department databases and billing systems, providing a broad view of a person's capabilities.

For example, MindServer Expertise can list the documents an employee has authored, clients he has worked with, projects he has led and the companies he has worked for, as well as more basic directory information like his location, the unit or department he belongs to, phone numbers and e-mail address, said Derek Schueren, Recommind's co-founder and sales director.

MindServer Expertise is a variation of a similar product Recommind has had for a while that provides expertise search for law firms, Schueren said.

Expertise search is useful in global, large professional services and consulting firms because their main asset is the skill set of their employees, which they must accurately match to their clients' projects, an analyst said.

Recommind's approach is clever in that it doesn't create another data repository with this employee expertise information but rather creates an index that points at documents stored in various systems, said Matt Brown, a Forrester Research Inc. analyst.

That way, the raw data is maintained by the individual departments in the normal course of doing business and is up to date when accessed via MindServer Expertise, Brown said.

In the high-end enterprise search market, Recommind is a smaller player, compared with competitors like Autonomy Corp. and Fast Search & Transfer ASA, but it is really drilling down on this area of expertise search with applications built from the ground up for it, Brown said.

MindServer Expertise can be used as a stand-alone application or in conjunction with Recommind's broader enterprise search platform MindServer 4.2, Recommind's Schueren said.

Recommind has about 50 clients, all large companies, and its average deal is valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Schueren said.

Earlier this week, Recommind announced that MindServer 4.2 has been integrated with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 so that users can apply MindServer's search functionality in SharePoint.

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