the cognistx blog

The Rise of the Answer Engine and Why Your Business Needs One (Part I)

January 2, 2024

In today's fast-paced digital landscape, businesses constantly seek ways to stay ahead of the game and provide exceptional customer experiences. One technology that is transforming the way businesses interact with customers and optimize internal processes is the answer engine.

"The main reason for the increased popularity of answer engines is that the AI models that power them have become much more powerful in the last few years," said Cognistx Data Scientist Justin Waltrip. 

What exactly is an answer engine?

And then there’s the answer engine. It is not quite a search engine where it's only providing sources. And it's not quite a chatbot where it's directly answering your question.

Answer engines, also known as question-answering systems, are advanced AI-powered technologies that go beyond traditional search engines. They use natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) algorithms to provide "nuanced, relevant and cited content in response to a user's query, which provides direct answer while also allowing you to verify and understand the source of the information without having to be an expert," according to Waltrip.

They leverage natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) algorithms to offer "nuanced, relevant, and cited content in response to your query. This enables us to give you a direct answer while also allowing you to verify and understand the source of the information," as explained by Waltrip.

Answer engines, search engines, chatbots – oh my!

There are three different ways that you can obtain information via the web. The most straightforward way is through a search engine. Search engines, such as Google, crawl the Internet. They catalog all of the pages they find, and then they rank the content based on whatever the user types in the search box. The aim is to provide you with information by finding relevant sources.

"[If] I search ‘cute dog pictures’ on Google, it will just show me a bunch of different websites that other people have made that might have those pictures or relevant media on there," Waltrip said.

The second way to get information is through a chatbot like ChatGPT. With a chatbot, you type in a question like, "Who won the World Series in 2001," and it gives you an answer. Most of the time, chatbots don't show you where the answer comes from.

"It just says, here's the answer," Waltrip said. "A search engine will give you the sources of the answer. Usually when someone's using a chatbot, they're really just interested in getting that information directly. "

Chatbots are designed to have knowledge built into them. It's information that the system has been fed and trained to provide.

Why are answer engines so popular?

Answer engines are really good at uncovering insights from large volumes of unstructured data, which refers to anything that is not in a strict format (think Excel sheet).. It could be a PDF or scanned document. It could be a table or chart. It could be handwritten text. It might be in an image or multimedia content like a podcast, video or webinar.

Answer engines are really efficient at finding this information and then presenting it to the user in a way to help make important decisions using that information.

Imagine this scenario: You have a lecture video that spans two hours, yet the crucial information you seek is contained within a mere five-second segment. It could be an arduous task to sit through the entire two-hour video to find that specific piece.

An answer engine – like Cognistx's SQUARE – will search through this information, this multimedia content and find that specific piece of information very quickly, which allows you to get on with everything else you need to do.

Benefits of using answer engines for business

There are numerous compelling reasons why businesses might find value in employing an answer engine. A key benefit is that of time efficiency; the more time employees spend merely seeking information, the less they have for other more productive or important tasks.

Boosting employee productivity can ultimately result in more revenue, improving a company's bottom line. However, there are additional, less obvious reasons why a business might find an answer engine beneficial. For instance, it could prove more potent than a standard search engine or manual information retrieval.

Consider this scenario: A non-specialist needs to comprehend something about a particular medical condition but lacks the technical terminology. Answer engines, with their AI capabilities, can sift through dense technical content to find relevant information, even if you don't fully understand the technicalities.

Once an answer engine locates potential answers to your question across various sources, it doesn't just stop there. It helps you understand the information. You could even ask the AI to simplify or clarify the information further, making it easier for you to grasp.

"It can actually help you post-process the information that you've retrieved to make it more understandable to someone who's not necessarily an expert in that domain,” Waltrip said. “For businesses this is also really powerful because it makes employees much more effective because they can access all of this information that wasn't necessarily available to them before." Waltrip said.

Revolutionizing Business

Answer engines are revolutionizing the way we search for information. At Cognistx, we developed SQUARE, an AI-powered enterprise solution for fast and accurate information retrieval.

Whether you're an attorney, franchise owner/manager, researcher, professional, student or simply curious, SQUARE helps you answer questions effortlessly from your documents. No more time-consuming searches or information overload!

Take the Next Step

Are you ready to explore the potential of an answer engine for your business? Schedule a demo today and discover how this transformative technology can elevate your organization to new heights. Contact Cody Clements at

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