IBM has upgraded its high-end enterprise search product with an improved user interface, and is next week set to announce a business intelligence tool to analyse call-centre data.

OmniFind Enterprise Edition 8.5 is now available and features a new dashboard view of search results, tight integration with other IBM collaboration products like Notes/Domino 8, and support for Japanese, Korean and Chinese characters.

The dashboard capability, called Top Results Analysis, complements the traditional search results list with a graphical representation of results. Users can click on the dashboard's bar charts to refine their search results.

"With this, we have taken a significant leap in findability," said Aaron Brown, programme director of search and discovery at IBM's Information Management group.

In addition, OmniFind Enterprise Edition 8.5 has links to data in other IBM collaboration software, such as Notes/Domino 8 and Lotus Quickr Services for WebSphere Portal, as well as to IBM FileNet P8 Content Management.

For customers who also have OmniFind Analytics Edition and want to analyse data collected in their customer support call centres, IBM next week will announce the availability of ProAct. This business intelligence application, used at IBM's own call centres, will be sold as a service engagement through the IBM research unit.

ProAct is a text analytics tool designed to let companies mine structured and unstructured data generated in call centres and stored (and often forgotten) in various places, like email inboxes, instant messages and transcribed call logs.

ProAct is based on an IBM open-source software framework for building data analysis tools called Unstructured Information Management Analysis (UIMA). OmniFind Enterprise and OmniFind Analytics also use UIMA.

OmniFindVersion 8.5 reflects IBM's realisation that enterprise search is becoming commoditised and that vendors in this market need to extend their products' capabilities in ways that differentiate them, said analyst Fern Halper, partner at Hurwitz & Associates.

The new dashboard and text analytics capabilities are good examples of ways in which IBM can increase the value of OmniFind Enterprise Edition, which competes at the high end of the market against offerings from Autonomy and Fast Search & Transfer, Halper believed. "IBM is doing a good job of thinking about how to enhance [the product]."

Susan Aldrich, analyst and senior vice president at the Patricia Seybold Group, said that while some enterprise search products are designed as stand-alone applications, OmniFind Enterprise Edition is more of a platform and suite of tools that IT departments at medium and large companies can customise for their specific needs. "A key value [of the product] is this incredible openness and extensibility," Aldrich said.