GTE's inResponse tackles deluge of e-mail from Web

GTE unveiled a product last month that will help agency Webmasters manage the growing amount of e-mail sent to their agencies' World Wide Web sites.

The tool, called inResponse, is an e-mail response management product that helps Webmasters route, respond to and track e-mail inquiries sent from Web site visitors.

GTE developed inResponse originally for internal use only but decided to market it commercially when other organizations— including government agencies— started to ask about it, said James Kane, vice president of business solutions at GTE Information Systems Division.

"InResponse is meant to be a flexible, response management system that can route to dozens of folders in an organization," Kane said. Inquiries can be sent automatically to a pre-established electronic folder— such as a sales folder— rather than a personal e-mail address. "The more diverse the nature of your inquiries are and the more complex your organization is the more of a match inResponse is for you."

InResponse generates a customized form when a user clicks on a Contact Us or For More Information button on a Web page. The form requests information about the subject of the inquiry and also collects return contact information from the user.

After completing and submitting the form, the user receives confirmation that it was received and gets a tracking number for future reference. InResponse then routes the message to the appropriate person in the agency and stores all correspondence in a relational database that can be searched.

The National Partnership for Reinventing Government and the General Services Administration are incorporating inResponse in the WebGov project, which is a single gateway that allows the public to search for federal information across all agency Web sites. Using inResponse, a site will allow users to post questions that will be routed to the most appropriate agency for a response.

"Webmasters spend a lot of time answering e-mail. Two to three hours a day is common," said Rich Kellett, division director of GSA's Emerging Information Technologies Policies Division. "It's impossible for Webmasters to handle the volume that will start to happen as [the government] interacts more with the public."

InResponse provides an important tool to help manage messages, Kellett said. "It provides a nice environment for starting to manage e-mail. It offloads the content issues from Webmasters," he said. Still, the people responsible for Web site content or programs will face a daunting task of answering all the queries, he added.

This is a "hot new market with a lot of competition," but GTE has an advantage over the other companies, such as Kana and Mustang Software Inc., said Mark Levitt, research director at International Data Corp. "GTE brings its brand name and an expertise outside of this market," he said.

InResponse is Java-based and runs on Sun Microsystems Inc. Solaris Version 2.5 or greater and Microsoft Corp. Windows NT Version 3.5 or greater, and it requires an Oracle Corp. database Version 7.3 or higher for data storage, search and analysis capabilities. It also requires any servlet-aware Web server running Java Development Kit Version 1.1.4 or higher.

InResponse is priced at $59,950 per server and will be added to the GSA schedule.

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