Olympic Committee Adds a Dash of CRM to Site

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The International Olympic Committee has overhauled its Olympic.org Web site, including the installment of a natural-language search function and user-tracking system.

Olympic.org -- not to be confused with Olympics.com, the official site of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City -- got a makeover at the start of the month to coincide with the opening of this year's Winter Games. Formerly devoted to the institutional aspects of the IOC, the site now is a colorful testament to the history and heroes of Olympic sports.

The IOC added 7,000 pictures and 1,200 video and audio files to the site. The site contains detailed explanations of each official and recognized Olympic sport and includes alphabetized profiles of all-time Olympic star athletes, complete with photo galleries.

The revamped Web site contrasts sharply with the old version, which mostly contained information about the IOC itself.

"We're putting the product in front and the institution more in the background," said Stephane Kanah, Internet manager for the IOC. "There was no place on the Internet, or elsewhere, where you could look at all the athletes."

Ever present on all the pages of Olympic.org is a natural-language search engine. Developed by Jeeves Solutions, the CRM arm of Ask Jeeves, the engine keeps track of the questions most commonly posed by users.

Jeeves Solutions will analyze the data collected by the search engine and help guide the IOC as it makes further improvements to the site, Kanah said. The system also serves a self-service function for users that can be updated as the IOC learns what information interests users more.

The search engine supports inquiries in French and English. The IOC hopes the feature helps achieve its goal of attracting 4 million to 5 million site visitors each month.

"This is new to us," Kanah said. "We see a lot of potential to this solution."

The natural-language search engine and analysis feature took about two weeks to install. Jeeves Solutions did the work in exchange for recognition from the IOC.

A third party is storing data collected by the search engine. Jeeves Solutions' analysis system processes data automatically and provides daily updates to the site's operators.

The IOC will look at how many inquiries the search engine generates and how many of those inquiries it can answer on its own. The data will help the IOC address content holes on Olympic.org and act as a virtual focus group to help the organization understand user wants and needs.

In the future, the IOC will try to integrate Olympic.org with the Olympics.com main event site. The organization hopes to expand Olympic.org in time for the Athens Summer Games in 2004, during which it may be used to recruit some of the 60,000 volunteers that the IOC expects to need for that event.

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