Tag: Coveo

Focused on Unifying Content to Reduce Information Overload

A theme running through the sessions I attended at Enterprise Search Summit and KMWorld 2010 in Washington, DC last month was the diversity of ways in which organizations are focused on getting answers to stakeholders more quickly. Enterprises deploying content technologies, all with enterprise search as the end game, seek to narrow search results accurately to retrieve and display the best and most relevant content.

Whether the process is referred to as unified indexing, federating content or information integration, each constitutes a similar focus among the vendors I took time to engage with at the conference. Each is positioned to solve different information retrieval problems, and were selected to underscore what I have tried to express in my recent Gilbane Beacon, Establishing a Successful Enterprise Search Program: Five Best Practices, namely the need to first establish a strategic business need. The best practices include the need for understanding how existing technologies and content structures function is the enterprise before settling on any one product or strategy. The essential activity of conducting a proof of concept (POC) or pilot project to confirm product suitability for the targeted business challenge is clearly mandated.

These products, in alphabetic order, are all notable for their unique solutions tailored to different audiences of users and business requirements. All embody an approach to unifying enterprise content for a particular business function:

Access Innovations (AI) was at KMWorld to demonstrate the aptly named product suite, Data Harmony. AI products cover a continuum of tools to build and maintain controlled vocabularies (AKA taxonomies and thesauri), add content metadata through processes tightly integrated with the corresponding vocabularies, search and navigation. Its vocabulary and content management tools can be layered to integrate with existing CMS and enterprise search systems.

Attivio, a company providing a platform solution known as Active Intelligence Engine (AIE), has developers specializing in open source tools for content retrieval solutions with excellent retrieval as the end point. AIE is a platform for enterprises seeking to unify structured and unstructured content across the enterprise, and from the web. By leveraging open source components they provide their customers with a platform that can be developed to enhance search for a particular solution, including bringing Web 2.0 social content into unity with enterprise content for further business intelligence analysis.

Coveo has steadily marched into a dominant position across all vertical industries with its efficiently packaged and reasonably priced enterprise search solutions, since I was first introduced to them in 2007. Their customers are always enthusiastic presenters at KMWorld, representing a population of implementers who seek to make enterprise search available to users quickly, and with a minimum of fuss. This year, Shelley Norton from Children’s Hospital Boston did not disappoint. She ticked off steps in an efficient selection, implementation and deployment process for getting enterprise search up and running smoothly to deliver trustworthy and accurate results to the hospital’s constituents. I always value and respect customer story-telling.

Darwin Awareness Engine was named the KMWorld Promise Award Winner for 2010. Since their founder is local to our home-base and a frequent participant in the Boston KM Forum (KMF) meetings, we are pretty happy for their official arrival on the scene and the recognition. It was just a year ago that they presented the prototype at the KMF. Our members were excited to see the tool exposing layers of news feeds to hone in on topics of interest to see what was aggregated and connected in really “real-time.” Darwin content presentation is unique in that the display reveals relationships and patterns among topics in the Web 2.0 sphere that are suddenly apparent due to their visual connections in the display architecture. The public views are only an example of what a very large enterprise might reveal about its own internal communications through social tools within the organization.

The newest newcomer, RAMP, was introduced to me by Nate Treloar in the closing hours of KMWorld. Nate came to this start-up from Microsoft and the FAST group and is excited about this new venture. Neither exhibiting, nor presenting, Nate was anxious to reach out to analysts and potential partners to share the RAMP vision for converting speech from audio and video feeds to reliable searchable text. This would enable the unification of audio, video and other content to finally be searched from its “full text” on the Web in a single pass. Now, we depend on the contribution of explicit metadata by contributors of non-text content. Long awaiting excellence in speech to indexing for search, I was “all ears” during our conversation and look forward to seeing more of RAMP at future meetings.

Whatever the strategic business need, the ability to deliver a view of information that is unified, cohesive and contextually understandable will be a winning outcome. With the Beacon as a checklist for your decision process, information integration is attainable by making the right software selection for your enterprise application.

Announcements Spring Forth as Search Conferences Begin

Here is a monthly summary of some interesting and important announcements for April, but first a couple of comments on the Infonortics Search Engines conference in Boston the last week of April. Ever searching for ways to embrace and make social tools more useful, I decided to tweet the entire Infonortics meeting. Except for a lapse late on Monday because I left a little early and some wireless issues Tuesday PM, I was able to pass on quite a few interesting or relevant comments by speakers. See what you get out of some very terse tweets by searching in Twitter infonorticssearchengine (that takes up entirely too much space I learned). The talks were excellent and many of the speakers emphasized how hard it is to do search well; it was also clear that there are many, many ways to try to do it well, none of them for the faint of heart. If you want to get under the search hood, this is the conference for technologists and those who want to hear what the development community is pondering.

Here is the April news:

Marketwire. Bell Mobility and Coveo Partner to create Enterprise Search from Bell, an Exclusive Enterprise-Grade Mobile Search Solution, March 31, 2009.

My diminished manual dexterity and old eyes have discouraged me from embracing smart mobile devices but this announcement demonstrates that Coveo does understand the future of search. Coveo is releasing many enhanced functions and new options but the emphasis on search on a handheld is compelling for all road warriors. From what I understand, setup is pretty quick and productivity is immediate. This is a smart move to support Coveo’s current customer base and a draw for new ones.

Velten, Carlo. Official Qitera Blog: Qitera Enterprise – Search as a Service, April 2, 2009

There is a 15-day free trial being offered for this new software as a service for aggregating and sharing Internet search results with colleagues within the enterprise. As a consultant in knowledge management, helping people with collaboration and sharing technologies for KM processes, I find this an intriguing option. If any readers have checked it out, please let us know your impressions. http://www.qitera.com/corp/products/overview

Knovel Enhances Engineering Reference Offering, Adding Works from Five New Publishers, 04/06/2009

As a former technical librarian in a Fortune 500 chemical company, I contributed to a massive manually built index to technical information to support our research scientists. We ensured that all property data for any materials we developed, or developed by our competitors was indexed for rapid retrieval (e.g. what is the thermal conductivity of ABC grade of graphite). The overhead for scanning journals, government documents, patents and conference papers to harvest and categorize that information was enormous. Since I learned about Knovel in 2002, I have been a huge fan of the value of the content they codify and make accessible through their proprietary retrieval tools. This content is re-purposed through licenses with publishers who understand the increased value of being able to manipulate tables, charts and graphs as well has being able to compare data from various sources of reference books. Engineers and scientists need to be able to find data expressed in the most relevant form for their purpose. Knovel provides an aggregating and retrieval engine, and researchers can then normalize search results dynamically themselves through simple re-sorting operations. If you want to be kept abreast of the wealth of content that continues to come on-line from Knovel, be sure to visit their site and sign up for announcements. I recommend a subscription to their services to every scientific and engineering library in my client organizations.

Endeca Technologies, Inc. … today announced a formalized partnership to deliver Endeca’s Digital Asset Navigator solution on Open Text Digital Media Group’s Enterprise Media Management Solution.

April 16, 2009. Endeca’s Digital Asset Navigator offers an unprecedented access and discovery experience, combining Endeca’s market leading search, Guided Navigation and Content Spotlighting capabilities. It integrates related data from Open Text’s enterprise Digital Asset Management solution, as well as databases, file servers, enterprise applications and other source systems… The joint solution also takes advantage of Endeca’s advanced security capabilities to ensure that users only have access to data they are approved to see and use…

This is an interesting alliance, to be sure. Digital asset management is an arena ripe for growth and it has not gotten the wide-spread traction I believe it deserves. For publishers and R & D operations the productivity gains can be huge and this combined offering may intensify focus on an under-leveraged technology by ensuing high security and excellent retrieval. Looking at the headline, I would just advise that they pare down the labeling to something pithy and memorable.

X1 Technologies Releases Updates to the X1 Professional Client and the X1 Content Connector for Symantec Enterprise Vault 4/27/2009

X1 is gaining some serious traction and I know it appeals to engineers who like to maintain good order with their piles of data, particularly the flow of large quantities that show up in email and feeds. I spent a few hours four years ago with an engineer, an X1 devotee, who had tagged his email in text files scrupulously and then used X1 to index them every night. He swore by its value and reliability. This looks like they recognize the service they provide to customers who live in email and need to master their desktop domain. Theirs is a niche with a large audience to capture.

ISYS Search Software Announces Release of ISYS:sdk 9. April 28, 2009. Newest Version of Company’s Integration Kit Offers Dramatic Performance and Scalability Enhancements, Intelligent Content Analysis and Parametric Search.

ISYS made some significant management changes over the past few months and they are clearly moving along with their marketing efforts as they recognize the value of expanding the re-seller partnership options. Customer comments that come my way continue to be favorable and they have a good story to tell.

Data Search Technology Used by FBI Makes its Way to Enterprises. eWeek New York, NY, April 29, 2009

Add Chiliad to the list of platform search engines, now that they are being highlighted for their value at the FBI. With deep (20+ years) roots in government programs (including early DARPA research and later the SBIR) and a burst of interest and investment by the government after 9/11, Chiliad is taking its venture into more commercial opportunities. We will see how they stack up against the big players in the marketplace. They must have learned something as they worked to “connect the dots” for the FBI.

There have been a lot more stories this past month, but these notices are the ones that kept me engaged in contemplating the enterprise search marketplace that just keeps putting up more options.

Enterprise Search 2008 Wrap-Up

It would be presumptuous to think that I could adequately summarize a very active year of evolution among a huge inventory of search technologies. This entry is more about what I have learned and what I opine about the state-of-the-market, than an analytical study and forecast.

The weak link in the search market is product selection methods. My first thought is that we are in a state of technological riches without clear guideposts for which search models work best in any given enterprise. Those tasked to select and purchase products are not well-educated about the marketplace but are usually not given budget or latitude to purchase expert analysis when it is available. It is a sad commentary to view how organizations grant travel budgets to attend conferences where only limited information can be gathered about products but will not spend a few hundred dollars on in-depth comparative expert analyses of a large array of products.

My sources for this observation are numerous, confirmed by speakers in our Gilbane conference search track sessions in Boston and San Francisco. As they related their personal case histories for selecting products, speakers shared no tales of actually doing literature searches or in-depth research using resources with a cost associated. This underscores another observation, those procuring search do not know how to search and operate in the belief that they can find “good enough” information using only “free stuff.” Even their review of material gathered is limited to skimming rather than a systematic reading for concrete facts. This does not make for well-reasoned selections. As noted in an earlier entry, a widely published chart stating that product X is a leader does nothing to enlighten your enterprise’s search for search. In one case, product leadership is determined primarily by the total software sales for the “leader” of which search is a miniscule portion.

Don’t expect satisfaction with search products to rise until buyers develop smarter methods for selection and better criteria for making a buy decision that suits a particular business need.

Random Thoughts. It will be a very long time before we see a universally useful, generic search function embedded in Microsoft (MS) product suites as a result of the FAST acquisition. Asked earlier in the year by a major news organization whether I though MS had paid too much for FAST, I responded “no” if what they wanted was market recognition but “yes” if they thought they were getting state-of-the-art-technology. My position holds; the financial and legal mess in Norway only complicates the road to meshing search technology from FAST with Microsoft customer needs.

I’ve wondered what has happened to the OmniFind suite of search offerings from IBM. One source tells me it makes IBM money because none of the various search products in the line-up are standalone, nor do they provide an easy transition path from one level of product to another for upward scaling and enhancements. IBM can embed any search product with any bundled platform of other options and charge for lots of services to bring it on-line with heavy customization.

Three platform vendors seem to be penetrating the market slowly but steadily by offering more cohesive solutions to retrieval. Native search solutions are bundled with complete content capture, publishing and search suites, purposed for various vertical and horizontal applications. These are Oracle, EMC, and OpenText. None of these are out-of-the-box offerings and their approach tends to appeal to larger organizations with staff for administration. At least they recognize the scope and scale of enterprise content and search demands, and customer needs.

On User Presentations at the Boston Gilbane Conference, I was very pleased with all sessions, the work and thought the speakers put into their talks. There were some noteworthy comments in those on Semantic Search and Text Technologies, Open Source and Search Appliances.

On the topic of semantic (contextual query and retrieval) search, text mining and analytics, the speakers covered the range of complexities in text retrieval, leaving the audience with a better understanding of how diverse this domain has become. Different software application solutions need to be employed based on point business problems to be solved. This will not change, and enterprises will need to discriminate about which aspects of their businesses need some form of semantically enabled retrieval and then match expectations to offerings. Large organizations will procure a number of solutions, all worthy and useful. Jeff Catlin of Lexalytics gave a clear set of definitions within this discipline, industry analyst Curt Monash provoked us with where to set expectations for various applications, and Win Carus of Information Extraction Systems illustrated the tasks extraction tools can perform to find meaning in a heap of content. The story has yet to be written on how semantic search is and will impact our use of information within organizations.

Leslie Owens of Forrester and Sid Probstein of Attivio helped to ground the discussion of when and why open source software is appropriate. The major take-way for me was an understanding of the type of organization that benefits most as a contributor and user of open source software. Simply put, you need to be heavily vested and engaged on the technical side to get out of open source what you need, to mold it to your purpose. If you do not have the developers to tackle coding, or the desire to share in a community of development, your enterprise’s expectations will not be met and disappointment is sure to follow.

Finally, several lively discussions about search appliance adoption and application (Google Search Appliance and Thunderstone) strengthen my case for doing homework and making expenditures on careful evaluations before jumping into procurement. While all the speakers seem to be making positive headway with their selected solutions, the path to success has involved more diversions and changes of course than necessary for some because the vetting and selecting process was too “quick and dirty” or dependent on too few information sources. This was revealed: true plug and play is an appliance myth.

What will 2009 bring? I’m looking forward to seeing more applications of products that interest me from companies that have impressed me with thoughtful and realistic approaches to their customers and target audiences. Here is an uncommon clustering of search products.

Multi-repository search across database applications, content collaboration stores document management systems and file shares: Coveo, Autonomy, Dieselpoint, dtSearch, Endeca, Exalead, Funnelback, Intellisearch, ISYS, Oracle, Polyspot, Recommind, Thunderstone, Vivisimo, and X1. In this list is something for every type of enterprise and budget.

Business and analytics focused software with intelligence gathering search: Attensity, Attivio, Basis Technology, ChartSearch, Lexalytics, SAS, and Temis.

Comprehensive solutions for capture, storage, metadata management and search for high quality management of content for targeted audiences: Access Innovations, Cuadra Associates, Inmagic, InQuira, Knova, Nstein, OpenText, ZyLAB.

Search engines with advanced semantic processing or natural language processing for high quality, contextually relevant retrieval when quantity of content makes human metadata indexing prohibitive: Cognition Technologies, Connotate, Expert System, Linguamatics, Semantra, and Sinequa

Content Classifier, thesaurus management, metadata server products have interplay with other search engines and a few have impressed me with their vision and thoughtful approach to the technologies: MarkLogic, MultiTes, Nstein, Schemalogic, Seaglex, and Siderean.

Search with a principal focus on SharePoint repositories: BA-Insight, Interse, Kroll Ontrack, and SurfRay.

Finally, some unique search applications are making serious inroads. These include Documill for visual and image, Eyealike for image and people, Krugle for source code, and Paglo for IT infrastructure search.

This is the list of companies that interest me because I think they are on track to provide good value and technology, many still small but with promise. As always, the proof will be in how they grow and how well they treat their customers.

That’s it for a wrap on Year 2 of the Enterprise Search Practice at the Gilbane Group. Check out our search studies at http://gilbane.com/Research-Reports.html and PLEASE let me hear your thoughts on my thoughts or any other search related topic via the contact information at http://gilbane.com/

Case Studies and Guidance for Search Implementations

We’ll be covering a chunk of the search landscape at the Gilbane Conference next week. While there are nominally over 100 search solutions that target some aspect of enterprise search, there will be plenty to learn from the dozen or so case studies and tool options described. Commentary and examples include: Attivio, Coveo, Exalead, Google Search Appliance (GSA), IntelliSearch, Lexalytics, Lucene, Oracle Secure Enterprise Search, Thunderstone and references to others. Our speakers will cue us into the current state of the search as it is being implemented. Several exhibitors are also on site to demonstrate their capabilities and they represent some of the best. Check out the program lineup below and try to make it to Boston to hear those with hands-on experience.

EST-1: Plug-and Play: Enterprise Experiences with Search Appliances

  • So you want to implement an enterprise search solution? Speaker: Angela A. Foster, FedEx Services, FedEx.com Development, and Dennis Shirokov, Marketing Manager, FedEx Digital Access Marketing.
  • The Make or Buy Decision at the U.S. General Services Admin. Speaker: Thomas Schaefer, Systems Analyst and Consultant, U.S. General Services Administration
  • Process and Architecture for Implementing GSA at MITRE. Robert Joachim, Info Systems Engr, Lead, The MITRE Corporation.

EST-2: Search in the Enterprise When SharePoint is in the Mix

  • Enterprise Report Management: Bringing High Value Content into the Flow of Business Action. Speaker: Ajay Kapur, VP of Product Development, Apps Associates
  • Content Supply? Meet Knowledge Demand: Coveo SharePoint integration. Speaker: Marc Solomon, Knowledge Planner, PRTM.
  • In Search of the Perfect Search: Google Search on the Intranet. Speaker: June Nugent, Director of Corporate Knowledge Resources, NetScout Systems,

EST-3: Open Source Search Applied in the Enterprise

  • Context for Open Source Implementations. Speaker: Leslie Owen, Analyst, Forrester Research
  • Intelligent Integration: Combining Search and BI Capabilities for Unified Information Access. Speaker: Sid Probstien, CTO, Attivio

EST-4: Search Systems: Care and Feeding for Optimal Results

  • Getting Off to a Strong Start with Your Search Taxonomy. Speaker: Heather Hedden, Principal Hedden Information Management
  • Getting the Puzzle Pieces to Fit; Finding the Right Search Solution(s) Patricia Eagan, Sr. Mgr, Web Communications, The Jackson Laboratory.
  • How Organizations Need to Think About Search. Speaker: Rob Wiesenberg, President & Founder, Contegra Systems

EST-5: Text Analytics/Semantic Search: Parsing the Language

  • Overview and Differentiators: Text Analytics, Text Mining and Semantic Technologies. Jeff Catlin, CEO, Lexalytics
  • Reality and Hype in the Text Retrieval Market. Curt Monash, President, Monash Research.
  • Two Linguistic Approaches to Search: Natural Language Processing and Concept Extraction. Speaker: Win Carus, President and Founder, Information Extraction Systems

Exhibitors with a Search Focus:

In the Field: The Enterprise Search Market Offers CHOICES

Heading into the Gilbane Boston conference next month we have case studies that feature quite an array of enterprise search applications. So many of the search solutions now being deployed are implemented with a small or part-time staff that it is difficult to find the one or two people who can attend a conference to tell their stories. We have surveyed blogs, articles and case studies published elsewhere to identify organizations and people who have hands-on-experience in the trenches deploying search engines in their enterprises. Our speakers are those who were pleased to be invited and they will be sharing their experiences on December 3rd and 4th.

From search appliances Thunderstone and Google Search Appliance, to platform search solutions based on Oracle Secure Enterprise Search, and standalone search products Coveo, Exalead, and ISYS, we will hear from those who have been involved in selecting, implementing and deploying these solutions for enterprise use. From a Forrester industry analyst and Attivio developer we’ll hear about open source options and how they are influencing enterprise search development. The search sessions will be rounded out as we explore the influences and mergers of text mining, text analytics with Monash Research and semantic technologies (Lexalytics and InfoExtract) as they relate to other enterprise search options. There will be something for everyone in the sessions and in the exhibit hall.

Personally, I am hoping to see many in the audience who also have search stories within their own enterprises. Those who know me will attest to my strong belief in communities of practice and sharing. It strengthens the marketplace place when people from different types of organizations share their experiences trying to solve similar problems with different products. Revealing competitive differentiators among the numerous search products is something that pushes technology envelopes and makes for a more robust marketplace. Encouraging dialogue about products and in-the-field experiences is a priority for all sessions at the Gilbane Conference and I’ll be there to prompt discussion for all five search sessions. I hope you’ll join me in Boston.

Enterprise Search Executives to Comment on Trends and Challenges

Executives from four companies with unique products for solving search challenges within organizations will share their thoughts on what is most interesting, promising and problematic in the current market at Gilbane San Francisco, session EST-4 on June 19th. Because it is important to consider markets, this type of session gives the panel and audience a chance to recognize the perspectives of each other, sellers and buyers. I’ll be asking the executives to comment on their product strengths, with emphasis on specific value propositions for buyers. There will be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions because what is on the minds of buyers is often the most interesting for everyone to hear. When one listens to questions asked of vendors and hears responses, it reveals two important things about markets:

  • Alignment that exists (or not) between what buyers want and what sellers have to offer
  • Challenges both face to create value

Think about it. When individuals are tasked with selecting any technology on behalf of an organization or organizational unit, their ultimate success depends on selecting a product and company that truly supports a value proposition for that enterprise business need. While the buyer has responsibility for implementing or selecting the right implementation team, s/he rightly depends on good guidance and a healthy relationship with the purveyor of product. When a technology company puts its product in the hands of a buyer it must do so with the confidence that its product comes with a total value package. By that I mean not just the technology but also the design, toolkit, and support team to guide its successful implementation.
No one, particularly vendors, likes to talk about negatives. However, given all the things that can go wrong for a buyer trying to manage an implementation team or for sellers who don’t anticipate expectations about their products not explored during the selection process, it is important to consider factors that lead to failure or less than satisfactory outcomes. One question I will have for vendors is to share honestly some of the challenges or disappointments about the market that are a particular point of pain for them. Bad-mouthing customers is not the answer but conveying how hard most vendors honestly try to create value and how their best intentions can be derailed through miscommunication may help buyers and sellers smooth the communication flow.
After all, don’t we all want to provide value for our internal and external customers? I think you will find the panel a receptive group: a 25+-year veteran of the information access market, a marketing executive with an international search and text analytics firm, a founder of a rapidly growing plug-and-play search solution, and a marketing VP working to position a company with a large scale solution against the “big-three” search solutions. You’ll hear straight talk and interesting value propositions.
Speakers: Margie Hlava, President, Accession Innovation, David Haucke, VP Global, Marketing, ISYS, Laurent Simoneau, President & CEO, and Rebecca Thompson, VP Marketing, Vivisimo

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