February 7, 2008
I talked yesterday with enterprise search vendor Coveo. Here are some highlights.
- Coveo spun out of Copernic a few years ago. The only relationship between the companies now is that Coveo licenses Copernic’s desktop search product.
- Coveo has 60 employees.
- Coveo has 5-600 customers, including lots of big-name companies.
- Coveo’s pitch boils down to “inexpensive, easy to install, and no-apologies functionality.” Actually, Coveo also claims superior relevance and performance, but I’m not going to comment much on those until I have a chance for a more technical discussion.
- Example of ease of set-up: Coveo says Factiva downloaded the product on a Monday, called up and bought it on Thursday, and deployed it in production that Friday. This may be a growing industry trend. Attivio also features a “download first, talk to us second” distribution model. So do vendors of other kinds of “platform” software such as database management systems, application servers, or complex event/stream processing.
- Average selling price: $50K. Everything is included for one price unless it requires bundled third-party software (as is the case for audio, video, and OCR search).
- Coveo claims 90% head-to-head win rates vs. Google OneBox and Microsoft Sharepoint search. Generally, customers have other search products too (I guess that’s obvious, since Coveo has only been around 2-3 years). Sometimes they even have all-you-can-eat licenses to competitive products, but buy from Coveo anyway. Rule of thumb: Nobody’s head-to-head win rate is truly as high as they like to think, but companies that think their rate is 90% generally are doing quite well.
- Coveo cites a strong demand for text search of relational databases. Based on specific examples cited, this seems to mean text fields such as call center notes.
- Coveo offers audio/video search. Really, it’s just an audio search technology; what’s being searched on in videos is the audio part. And the audio search boils down to a speech-to-text transcription, with a search of the resulting text. Coveo’s key claim is that the error-laden text you get from speech-to-text conversion is sufficient for useful searching. Specifically, you do best searching for unusual words, such as proper names. In the case of telephone calls, which are low quality – perhaps 32 kb/sec – Coveo says there’s only 10-20% accuracy in word transcription. However, Coveo also says that the words that do come through are exactly the unusual ones most usefully searched on.
- Coveo also says that its speech-to-text lexicon is initially strengthened by text crawls. In general, while I didn’t ask, I would guess that the easy-installation story involves a fair amount of automated lexicon enhancement.
Categories: Audio and video search, Coveo, Enterprise search, Search engines
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