The New Study Beyond Search Now Available
Stephen E. Arnold's newest search and content processing study is now available for purchase. The study – Beyond Search: What to Do When Your Enterprise Search System Doesn't Work – is available from The Gilbane Group. He says, "Key word retrieval is no longer enough for today's increasingly savvy and demanding users. Few people want to guess what magic sequence of key words unlocks the information in an enterprise search system. Users want to go "beyond search" with the system providing suggestions, delivering answers, and providing actionable information. Laundry lists just aren't what users want today." Click to see a table of contents...
The 270-page study represents more than one year of research into the field of enterprise search, a term that Beyond Search says is misleading, out-of-date, and a cause of the on-going confusion about information access. He says, "Who wants a system that could expose confidential employee health data or salary information? No one. There's no such thing as enterprise search because there's no one-size-fits-all system.
The trigger for the study was a research project Mr. Arnold conducted in 2007. That work provided solid evidence that two-thirds of the users of an enterprise search system are dissatisfied with its ease of use and its ability to find what the user needs. He says, "Vendors don't talk about what percentage of their search systems are not in the hands of unhappy licensees. My research shows that user dissatisfaction is increasing, and that's the reason some vendors run into financial and legal problems."
Mr. Arnold's previous studies – The Google Legacy (2005) and Google Version 2.0 (2007) provided a foundation for Beyond Search's most remarkable revelation about Google. Shifting from the standard Google Search Appliance and Google Apps coverage, Beyond Search reveals new information about Google's dataspace initiatives. This technology – if commercialized by Google – has the potential to transform search and retrieval, adding greater potency to the "beyond search" idea. In 2006, Google bought Transformic, Inc. With this technology, Google could trigger a major upheaval in information access, metadata manipulation, and the way in which queries themselves are framed. This new approach allows a user to see results ranked by certainty and lineage. In effect, Beyond Search argues, "The dataspace technology allows a user to see information in new ways."
Beyond Search – A Fresh Look at Enterprise Search for the Realities of 2008
Mr. Arnold asserts that most organizations burdened with an enterprise search system that employees won't use face some start choices. A company can "rip and replace" the system. Although widely practiced, it's expensive and ultimately leads an organization to have multiple search systems. He says, "Some users like the existing search system because a few users have figured out how to make it work. So an organization grandfathers in this old system. Now an organization has multiple search systems, which adds to costs and employee frustration."
How can an organization fix a broken system? Mr. Arnold identifies two approaches. The first makes use of software and systems from companies who can "wrap" an incumbent system with some new functionality. In many cases, this type of fix is just what the doctor ordered. Profiled in the study are software from companies such as Bitext in Madrid, Spain, and Siderean Software, in El Segundo, California. Chances are, these companies' products are likely to be new to the readers of Beyond Search.
The other approach, Mr. Arnold suggests, is to leave the incumbent in place and to install one of the "up and coming" or next-generation search and content processing systems along side the incumbent. "Let the users decide," he says. Among the up-and-coming vendors he highlights are Exalead, Isys Search Software, and others which may not be widely known in the United States. Click here to see the table of contents for the new study.
The market, in general, is moving away from key words into more sophisticated business processes, including business intelligence. Marketing, not technology is more important than ever. And search vendors are becoming more skilled in the ways of Madison Avenue, so “buyer beware” becomes an important catchphrase. Classification, entity extraction, and point-and-click access to related content are quickly becoming “must have” features. However, many organizations find themselves unable to afford the seven figure price tags of some of the higher profile systems.
When its time to make sure history does not repeat itself, how can you determine if you are seeing a “real system” or a a “demo system”? You can’t so you have to ask. Continue reading selected quotes from Beyond Search...
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