British open source enterprise search start-up takes on Autonomy, Google
Q. How did September’s official launch go?
A. The press and analyst community have been really positive towards Simplexo and our open source enterprise search offering. In particular, the feedback and media coverage that we have received has supported the need for a simple and efficient information search tool, with many believing that it is a unique enabling tool. The fact that we can provide ‘single click’ information retrieval of structured and unstructured data in real-time has also been highlighted as a benefit.
During the launch we met with a broad range of people from the technology industry and what stood out to us the most was that everyone we talked to really understood the product and logic behind it. This to us shows that there is a real need for a tool that enables efficient information retrieval and we believe that we can meet this need with our offering.
Q. What sets your search technology apart from what is already available?
A. As I just highlighted, we are the only offering that can do single click, real-time searches across the enterprise for both structured and unstructured data. It is also open source. Analysts have told us that it is a particularly interesting product because of its focus, it’s a product in it’s own right.
Q. Butler Group's July 2008 report regarding your technology started one of the weaknesses of the company was its small size and immaturity.
This is obviously something that all start-ups have to deal with, but what will you be doing to address customers' potential fears about these issues?
A. We are selling through a partner model, whereby the lead relationship is between the user and the partner. By going through this route we become a new technology rather than a new company. Most software innovations still come from start-ups in this sector, that's what makes it exciting and so to an extent, experienced technology users are aware of this. We would like everyone to make up their own mind on our product
Our growth will come from assisting these partners on a “sell with” basis until the knowledge transfer is such that they can do some “sell through”. These partners will give us good coverage in the UK, EMEA and the US.
Our approach remains both collaborative and complimentary. If you have installed Autonomy, great, it’s a fabulous indexing tool, and allows us to carry great searches, if you have Ingres or Oracle, it makes no difference to us, we are not a replacement technology and we have yet to find a mainstream technology in corporates that we cannot collaborate with.
Q. How many employees do you now have in the UK?
A. We have 10 personnel all told, with plans to increase to 15 by the end of December this year. The reason behind this being, there is a long list of companies out there that some could say, are victims of their own success. We believe that it is important to grow strategically and that is why we have decided to increase the number of employees at a good steady rate, which we believe will maximise the success of our offering.
Q. And what about clients in the UK?
A. We have two. The first was The University of Nottingham, who are using our enterprise search tool as part of a clinical trial into Stroke Medicine. Our second client in the UK is Keltie, a leading London Patent Attorney, who are using the same tool to assist in Patent searches. As a new company, it is great to see two reputable organisations in the UK using our technology.
Q. You claim to have a unique image search technology - could you explain more about that?
A. Because of the unique way in which Simplexo is able to search and de-duplicate results, we can search a range of different file formats, including Microsoft Office documents and Adobe PDF files. We are also able to search within certain image types to extract internally embedded text. This is in addition to the file’s standard Meta Data.
This searching methodology enables us to look into the future and see ways in which we can extend searching of a range of file formats, including images. To make it possible to search on a companies’ direct content, as well as Meta Data, and the internally embedded information.
Q. What impact do you think the current economic situation will have on the IT industry and your sector in particular?
A. It may be a challenge to sell to the Bradford and Bingley but everyone else will be looking, as they always do in times such as these, to reduce costs. We can considerably help reduce the time that white-collar employees spend searching for that elusive data.
There is also a clear need for good enterprise search technology in these times of increased compliance and corporate governance. Industries including the financial services sector and the pharmaceutical sector are continually under increased pressure to comply with complex regulatory requirements. We believe that our search tool provides a means for users to meet these requirements.