At PC Forum, Tacit Software introduced Illumio, a new consumer-oriented, knowledge-management software that company CEO David Gilmour said reaches out to find what people know, what they have and who they know using a brokering program that control privacy. Working with desktop search software, Illumio leverages Tacit's core software for extracting the particulars of a user's expertise and social network, mining email, documents and other data on a user's computer to discover someone's expertise and social network. Tacit's enterprise product, which sells for from $250,000 to $2 million, finds each employee's work focus, expertise and business relationships, creating an "active network of information sharing" throughout the organization to connect.
Importantly, in the consumer service the mined data doesn't get pushed to an Illumio server or exposed without user consent. The server isn't available yet to the public (another teaser site), but works somewhat like instant messaging with a search expression, with contacts (opt in) sorted by group. Gilmour told me that you can look for documents or information, answers or expertise and people. In looking for expertise, a search request is fired off the Illumio, which broadcasts the request to all in the group. The Illumio client (a 2-megabyte download) intercepts it, cranks up desktop search (such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo) in the background and depending on what type of request it is, uses various algorithms to compute how well the user matches the request and provides the information privately to the user. With Illumio, the holders of information and expertise get to participate in a community marketplace.
At that point, Illumio coordinates the lowering of the bar in a reverse auction, so that the very best matches are invited to respond first, without the service having to know who those individuals are. The groups used within enterprises will be licensed on a per person per month basis, for a very low price, Gilmour said. Larger customers negotiate custom pricing. Personal use is free. "Lots of sites could overlay this capability into their Web experiences," Gilmour said. "Anybody interested in direct connections and communities of users would find Illumia usefu. For example, a Web site could find the hundred users most intersted in fly fishing on a given site and target them with communications."
Gilmour isn't concerned about encroaching on his enterprise business. "Our enterprise business is really customized and business-process oriented," Gilmour said. If Illumio does hurt the enterprise business, it would be because it is such a deep success." Gilmour expects to open Illumio to the public in the June timeframe.
During a Q&A session after the Illumio demo, Adam Bosworth of Google noted that Myspace users, for example, could come up with some creative and unsavory (from a legal perspective) ways to use the product, such as sharing video and music files. Gilmour said that he is now testing Illumio in private to figure out what some of the problem areas could be.