Category: Gilbane San Francisco 2008

Thinking about Enterprise Search the Right Way

A major differentiator for search products used within enterprises to enable finding enterprise generated and re-purposed content is intent. For too long the focus has been on search for content based on keywords that are contained in target content. Target content has been determined by what repositories and document formats are explicitly included in the search engine “crawl.” This simplistic approach to search for the most appropriate content does not work.

At an upcoming session, EST-3, in the Enterprise Search track at the San Francisco Gilbane Conference, we want to change the discussion about why search is needed for enterprise content and how it should be implemented. This means putting a focus on the intent of a searcher. In an e-commerce Internet experience we assume that the intent of a searcher is to find information with an end goal of selecting or purchasing products. But much of the content that is crawled on the Internet is “discovered” by all kinds of searchers who begin with no particular intent but curiosity, self-education, or with a search for something entirely different. We all know where that lands us – in a pile of stuff that may contain the target of our intent but mostly stuff with little relevance.

Enterprise search has to be thought of as a value-added tool for enriching and improving our work experience and efficiency. If it is installed, implemented and tuned with little thought as to intent, it becomes another white elephant in the basement of legacy IT failures. Intent needs to be constantly explored and examined, which means that search administrators will routinely be talking to representative users, and surveying expectations and experiences.

In our enterprises we search for content for many reasons. It is what we do with that content that creates business value or not. Too often, organizations discover that the content workers need to perform at their highest levels is not found. This may be because search implementation(s) are not delivered to the desktop to fit easily into workflow, or the interface is hard to use. It can also be that required content never gets included as a retrieval option. Search experts can give us guidance to establish search tools in the ways that fit how workers seek information and find actionable content to better their work output.

On June 19th three such experts will talk about cases in which search solutions were designed for a particular audience. If you are in the audience to hear them, please comment through this blog on what you learn. New insights into applying search “the right way” are a refreshing addition to case study library.

Speakers:

Jean Bedord, Findability & Search Consultant, Econtent Strategies, Search for the Enterprise: Creating Findability
Mark Bennett, CTO, New Idea Engineering, Protecting Confidential Information within the Corporate Search Box
Mark Morehead, Senior VP, MuseGlobal, UWire: A Case Study in Using Search to Streamline Editorial Processes in the Enterprise

A Call for Papers and Microsoft creates a FAST Opening in the New Year

I closed 2007 with some final takeaways from the Gilbane Conference and notes about semantic search. Already we are planning for Gilbane San Francisco and you are invited to participate. There is no question that enterprise search, in all its dimensions, will be a central theme of several sessions at the conference, June 17th through 19th. I will lead with a discussion in which a whole range of search topics, technologies and industry themes will be explored in a session featuring guest Steve Arnold, author of Google Version 2.0, The Calculating Predator. To complement the sessions, numerous search technology vendors will be present in the exhibit hall.

A most important conference component will be a highlight for conference goers, shared-experiences about selecting, implementing and engaging with search tools in the enterprise. Everyone wants to know what everyone else is doing, learning and what they know about enterprise search. You may want to present your experiences or those of your organization. If you are interested, considering presenting, know of a good case study, usability or “lessons learned” from implementing search technology, please raise your hand. You can do this by reaching out through this link to submit a proposal and make reference to the “enterprise search blog call for papers.” You can be sure I’ll follow-up soon to explore the options for you or a colleague to participate. This is a great opportunity to be part of a community of practitioners like you and attend a conference that always has substantive value for participants.

Leave it to Microsoft to end the year with a big announcement and open the next one with an even bigger one. We knew that the world of enterprise search was going to contract in terms of the number of established vendors, even though it is expanding in new and innovative offerings. Microsoft had to make a bold play in an industry where Google has been the biggest player on the WWW stage while reaching deeper into the enterprise, tickling at Microsoft’s decades-old hold on content creation and capture. So, with the acquisition of FAST Search & Transfer, whose technology may not be the best in the enterprise search market but is certainly the most widely deployed at the high-end, Microsoft opens with a direct challenge to its largest competitor.

Boy! Have the emails been flying this morning. At least I know there will be plenty of material to ponder in the next few weeks and months. P.S. Don’t miss the action in San Francisco!

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