Google Searches Inside Business Software Programs

By Eric Auchard

Google Inc., the consumer Web search favorite, will help office workers dig deeper into business software programs and databases to find relevant information tidbits, the company said on Tuesday.

Google is introducing a new version of its system to trawl for information locked inside an organization's key business systems, working with software makers including Oracle Corp., and

The Mountain View, California company seeks to answer criticism that its basic keyword system of searching for information on the public Web is too blunt an instrument to cut through complex office filing systems to find salient details.

The new feature, known by the mouthful "Google OneBox for Enterprise," is built into boxes Google sells to businesses. They help create custom search systems for employees inside organizations or for consumers on the company's own Web site.

"Google is becoming more and more savvy about what the enterprise needs in the way of search," said IDC analyst Sue Feldman, an expert in the enterprise search field.

"It is taking commodity search, adding features, and making search more appealing" for business users, she said.

While Google lacks the sophistication of systems that have long focused on the corporate search market -- from suppliers like Autonomy, Fast Search and Transfer and IBM -- Google is quickly making in-roads, Feldman said.

Google plans to allow corporate customers to create company-specific searches where employees can use the familiar Google search box to locate information such as contacts or calendars, employee benefits, sales leads or purchase orders.

"Over time Google has become a gateway for searching for all types of information," said Dave Girouard, general manager of the company's enterprise business. "We have been doing this on the consumer side for years," he said.

Already, when a consumer goes to

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and types in a query for certain types of information, Google analyzes the request to figure out if it may refer to, say, a song or airline flight times, the weather or stock prices.

The seeming simplicity of Google disguises how different search terms whisk a user into entirely different databases.

Similarly, office workers using the new business software search feature inside companies using a Search Appliance -- as Google's hardware product is known -- will be able to drill down and search for specific types of office documents.

The move to customize how Google hardware searches inside popular software applications comes as the Search Appliance nears sales to its

4,000th customer, nearly double the 2,000 customers it counted in 2005's third quarter, Girouard said.

A company could set up a hundred different categories of custom searches for documents inside their organizations, with specific queries targets to particular employee groups.

Initial software partners include Cognos Inc. and SAS, suppliers of software used to uncover marketing trends in business databases along with Employease, an online supplier of employee benefits services but the scope of Google's effort is to embrace hundreds if not thousands of common software types.

Google will promote use of the new search feature by providing open access to developers to download the software, create new applications and share them with other developers.

In order to jump start use of its search software inside business, government and other private organizations, Google has worked with consulting partners such as BearingPoint and Persistent Systems to provide access to commonly used applications from SAP AG , Oracle's PeopleSoft, Microsoft Exchange and IBM's Lotus Notes.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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