Quiq Builds User Communities Online

By Amy Helen Johnson, Computerworld |  Software

Quiq Inc.

Location: 2121 South El Camino Real, 10th floor, San Mateo, Calif. 94403

Telephone: (650) 294-2900

Web:www.quiq.com

Niche: Web-based self-help customer service application

Why it's worth watching: Collaborative capabilities allow responses from external experts, forming an online support community.

Company officers: Greg Richardson, president and CEO; Raghu Ramakrishnan, co-founder, chairman and CTO; Kartik Ramakrishnan, co-founder and vice president of business development

Milestones: 1998: Company founded April 2000: Quiq Connect introduced January 2001: Version 2 released

Employees: 60; 100% annual growth

Burn money: $15 million from BancBoston Ventures Inc., Discovery Ventures, Altos Ventures and InterWest Partners

Products/pricing: Quiq Connect installation costs range from $30,000 to $60,000; monthly usage fees range from $20,000 to $55,000.

Customers: AlphaSmart Inc., Ask Jeeves Inc., eChips, National Instruments Corp. and Packtion Corp.

Partners: Blue Barn Interactive Inc., Idea Integration Corp., Participate.com Inc. and Quaero LLC

Red flags for IT: Requires customization to integrate with back-end content management systems. Current user access is all-or-nothing; there's no tiered access model.

By allowing companies to tap that talent and experience, Quiq can deliver better customer service. And Quiq uses a threaded message format so it's easier for users to follow the logic of its back-and-forth conversational mode, Martins says.

The technology that powers Quiq is a relational database with a series of customized layers on top of it, says Raghu Ramakrishnan, Quiq's co-founder and chief technology officer. Certain layers provide intelligent organizational and tracking capabilities for updating the database, while an advanced search-and-retrieval layer combines techniques from SQL-based queries and text-based searches to produce highly relevant answers to questions, he says. Users can rate the answers and the contributors; the system uses those ratings to choose which answers it offers first.

Blaza credits some of Quiq's advanced features with drawing users to his site. For example, when users want to track a particular expert's advice, they can subscribe to that person's answers and receive e-mail when new postings appear. Experts can post diagrams to illustrate their answers, which is especially valuable for Blaza's community of engineers.

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