Tag: social search

March Madness in the Search Industry

In keeping with conventional wisdom, it looks like a number of entrepreneurs are using the economic downturn as opportunity time, judging from the larger than normal number of announcements in the enterprise search sector. The Microsoft acquisition of FAST, Autonomy’s foray into the document/content management market, and Google’s Search Appliance ramping its customer base are old news BUT we have a sweep of changes. Newcomers to the enterprise search marketplace and news of innovative releases of mature products really perked up in March. Here are my favorite announcements and events in chronological order and the reasons why I find them interesting:

Travis, Paul. March 2, 2009 Digital Reef Comes Out of Stealth Mode. 03/02/2009. Byteandswitch.com.

Startup offers content management platform to index unstructured data for use in e-discovery, risk mitigation, and storage optimization. Here is the first evidence that entrepreneurs see opportunity for filling a niche vacuum. In the legal market the options have been limited and pretty costly, especially for small firms. This will be an interesting one to watch. http://www.digitalreefinc.com/

Banking, Finance, and Investment Taxonomy Now Available from the the Taxonomy Experts at WAND. 03/02/2009, PR Web (press release), Ferndale,WA,USA

The taxonomy experts at WAND have made this financial taxonomy available now for integration into any enterprise search software. I have been talking with Ross Lehr, CEO at Wand, for over a year about his suite of vertical market taxonomies and how best to leverage them. I am delighted that Wand is now actively engaged with a number of enterprise search and content management firms, enabling them to better support their customers’ need for navigation. The Wand taxonomies offer a launching point from which organizations can customize and enhance the vocabulary to match their internal or customer interests. http://www.wandinc.com/main/default.aspx

Miller, Mark. Lucid Imagination » Add our Lucene Ecosystem Search Engine to Firefox. 03/02/2009

I predicted back in January that open source search and search appliances were going to spawn a whole new industry of services providers and expert integrators because there are just not enough search experts to staff in-house experts in all the companies that are adopting these two types of search products. Well, it is happening and these guys at Lucid are some of the smartest search technologists around. Here is an announcement that introduces you to a taste of what they can do. Check it out and check them out at http://www.lucidimagination.com/

To see the full article with commentary about: social search at NASA, QueSearch, MaxxCat, Aardvark on social search, Attivio, ConceptSearching, Google user-group, Simplexo, Endeca, Linguamatics, Coveo, dtSearch and ISYS.

Microsharing has benefits for NASA. 03/04/2009.

It has been about 18 months since I wrote on social search and this report reveals a program that takes the concept to a new level, integrating content management, expertise locators and search in a nifty model. To learn more about NASAsphere, read this report written by Celeste Merryman. Findings from the NASAsphere Pilot. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology Knowledge Arciteture (sic) and Technology Task [Force]. 08/20/2008. The success of the pilot project is underscored in this report recommendation: the NASAsphere pilot team recommends that NASAsphere be implemented as an “official” employee social networking and communication tool. This project is not about enterprise search per se, it just reflects how leveraging content and human expertise using social networks requires a “findability” component to have a successful outcome. Conversely, social tools play a huge role in improving findability.

March 16, 2009. QueSearch: Unlocking the Value of Structured Data with Universal Search really caught my eye with their claim to “universal search” (yes, another) for large and mid-size organizations.

This offering with a starting price of $19,500, is available immediately, with software and appliance deployment options. I tried to find out more about their founders and origins on their Web site without luck but did track down a Wikipedia article and a neat YouTube interview with the two founders, Steven Yaskin and Paul Tenberg. It explains how they are leveraging Google tools and open source to deliver solutions.

Stronger, Better, Faster — MaxxCat’s New Search Appliance Aspires to Be Google Search Appliance Killer, by Marketwire. 03/11/2009.

This statement explains why the announcement caught my attention: MaxxCat product developers cite “poor performance and intrinsic limitations of Google Mini and Google Search Appliance” as the impetus to develop the device. The enterprise search appliance, EX-5000, is over seven times faster than Google Search Appliance (GSA) and the small business search appliance, the XB-250, is 16 times faster than Google Mini. There is nothing like challenging the leading search appliance company with a statement like that to throw down the gauntlet. OK I’m watching and will be delighted to read or hear from early users.

Just one more take on “social search” as we learn about Aardvark: Answering the Tough Questions, David Hornik on VentureBlog. 03/12/2009

This week the Aardvark team is launching the fruits of that labor at South By Southwest (SXSW). They have built a “social search engine” that lives inside your IM and email. It allows you to ask questions of Aardvark, which then goes about determining who among your friends and friends of friends is most qualified to answer those questions. As the Aardvark team point out in their blog, Social Search is particularly well suited to answer subjective questions where “context” is important. I am not going to quibble now but I think I would have but this under my category of “semantic search” and natural language processing. Until we see it in action, who knows?

A new position at Attivio was announced on March 16th, Attivio Promotes John O’Neil to Chief Scientist, which tells me that they are still expanding at the end of their first official year in business.

Getting to the point, 03/18/2009, KMWorld. http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=53070

Several announcements about Concept Searching’s release v. 4 of its flagship product, conceptClassifier for SharePoint highlight the fact that Microsoft’s acquisition of FAST has not slowed the number of enterprise search solution companies that continue to partner with or offer independent solutions for SharePoint. In this case the company offers its own standalone concept search solution applications for other content domains but is continuing to bank on lots of business from the SharePoint user community. This relationship is reflected in these statements: The company says features include a new installer that enables installation in a SharePoint environment in less than 20 minutes, requires no programmatic support and all functionality can be turned on or off using standard Microsoft SharePoint controls. Full integration with Microsoft Content Types and greater support for multiple taxonomies are also included in this release. Once the FAST search server becomes a staple for Microsoft SharePoint shops, there will undoubtedly be fallout for some of these partners.

Being invited to the Google Enterprise Search Summit in Cambridge, MA on March 19, 2009 was an opportunity for me to visit Google’s local offices and meet a bunch of customers.

They were a pretty enthusiastic crowd and are enjoying a lot of attention as this division of Google works to join the ranks of other enterprise application software companies. I suspect that it is a whole new venture for them to be entertaining customers in their offices in a “user-group like” forum but the Google speakers were energetic and clearly love the entrepreneurial aspects of being a newish run-away success within a run-away successful company. New customer announcements continue to flow from Google with SITA (The State Information Technology Agency in South Africa) acquiring GSA to drive an enterprise-wide research project. The solution will also be deployed and implemented by JSE-listed IT solutions and services company Faritec, and RR Donnelly. Several EMC users were represented at the meeting, which made me ask why they aren’t using the search tools being rolled out by the Documentum division…well, don’t ask.

Evans, Steve. Simplexo boosts public sector search options. Computer Business Review – UK. 03/18/2009.

This is interesting as an alternative to the Lucene/solr scene, UK-based open source enterprise search vendor Simplexo has launched a new search platform aimed at the public sector, which aims to enable central and local government departments to simultaneously search multiple disparate data sources across the organisation on demand. I have wondered when we would see some other open source offerings.

And all of the preceding is about just the startups (plus EMC at Google) and lesser known company activity. This was not a slow month. I don’t want all my contacts in the “established” search market to think that I am not paying attention because I am. I’ve exchanged communications with or been briefed by these known companies with news about new releases, advancing market share, or new executive teams. In no particular order these were the highlights of the month:

Endeca announced three new platforms on Mar 23, 2009: Endeca Announces the Endeca Publishing Suite, Giving Editors Unprecedented Control Over the Online Experience; Endeca Announces the Endeca Commerce Suite, Giving Retailers Continuous Targeted Merchandizing; and Endeca Unveils McKinley Release of the Information Access Platform, Allowing for Faster and Easier Deployment of Search Applications

Linguamatics Agile Text Mining Platform to Be Used by Novo Nordisk. 03/26/2009

I had a fine briefing by Coveo’s CEO Laurent Simoneau and Michel Besmer new VP of Global Marketing and see them making great strides capturing market share across numerous verticals where rapid deployment and implementation are a big selling point. They also just announced: Bell Mobility and Coveo Partner to Create Enterprise Search from Bell, an Exclusive Enterprise-Grade Mobile Search Solution.

A new Version 7.6 of a mainstay, plug-and-play search solution for SMBs since 1991, dtSearch, was just released. 3/24/2009

And finally, ISYS is having a great growth path with a new technology release, ISYS File Readers, new executives and a new project … completed in conjunction with ArnoldIT.com. Steve Arnold, industry expert and author of the Beyond Search blog, compiled more than a decade of Google patent documents. To offer a more powerful method for analyzing and mining this content, we produced the Google Patent Search Demonstration Site, powered by our ISYS: web application.

Weatherwise, March, 2009 is out like a lamb but hot, hot, hot when it comes to search.

Collaboration and Expertise Bring Focus to Enterprise Search

The topic of the month seems to be “social search;” I confess to being a willing participant in this new semantic framing of a rash of innovative new tools for enterprise search products. I would, however, defer to the professional intent of some great new features by stressing that this is really a next step in bringing collaboration closer to where expert knowledge workers do their work. As I view enterprises with a heavy research component, 10 – 30% of the average professional’s time is spent in a search environment. In other words, we all spend a lot of our day just looking for “stuff.” We also spend a significant amount of time in meetings, exchanging emails, and making presentations. More and more of us contribute to collaboration spaces where we work together on various types of document production.

Putting together the work habits and needs of a time-poor and information-rich community of knowledge workers in a post-processing environment where they can “mash up,” tag and commentate their search discoveries is a natural evolution of search technology. It is remarkable to see how search companies that are serious about the enterprise market (search within and for the enterprise) are rapidly turning out enhancements for their audiences, now that they are convinced that “Enterprise 2.0” has a boatload of early adopters in the wings. Search should always be about connecting experts and their content. Add collaboration and the ability to enrich search results by searchers for the benefit of their colleagues and you have a model for, soon-to-be, heavily adopted products.

That pretty much sums up how we should be thinking about “social search” in the enterprise. You can hear more of my views in a KMWorld Webinar, Using Social Search to Drive Innovation through Collaboration next Tuesday in a presentation sponsored by Vivisimo, one of the leaders in this area.

The week had plenty of virtual ink devoted this topic so you might want to check out these two articles with more commentary. The first was in eWeek, by Clint Boulton, Vivisimo Marries Search, Social Networking. The second shows that Google is on the bandwagon, as well, Google Enterprise Search gets social, a blog entry at C|Net News.com by Rafe Needleman.

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