Enterprise search

Analysis of enterprise-specific search technology (as opposed to general web search). Related subjects include:

June 19, 2008

The Text Analytics Marketplace: Competitive landscape and trends

As I see it, there are eight distinct market areas that each depend heavily on linguistic technology. Five are off-shoots of what used to be called “information retrieval”:

1. Web search

2. Public-facing site search

3. Enterprise search and knowledge management

4. Custom publishing

5. Text mining and extraction

Three are more standalone:

6. Spam filtering

7. Voice recognition

8. Machine translation

Read more

June 15, 2008

How text search has evolved over the past 15 years

I just stumbled across a brilliant summary of evolution in text search technology, written four years ago. It’s equally valid today (which in itself says something). I found it on the Prism Legal blog, but the actual author is Sharon Flank. My own comments are interspersed in bold. Read more

March 5, 2008

Google could dominate single-site search

Google has begun to introduce a feature whereby, if your search obviously leads you to a single site (e.g., you searched on a company name), you get a second search box to search only within that site. More details at Google and Search Engine Land. Basically, this is Google Site Search made a lot easier to use.

I think this could be a really big deal. Read more

February 7, 2008

Survey of search UI alternatives

I’ll confess to skimming rather than reading this long, footnoted discussion of search user interfaces. But if you need to design those things — even internally at an enterprise — it’s worth at least a quick look. Ditto, perhaps, if you design other analysis- or research-oriented UIs.

February 7, 2008

Coveo highlights

I talked yesterday with enterprise search vendor Coveo. Here are some highlights.

February 5, 2008

Microsoft, Yahoo, and innovation

Bill Burnham argues that a Microsoft/Yahoo merger would drive down M&A prices. Marc Andreesen disagrees. His argument is essentially twofold:

  1. Microsoft and Yahoo were never more than a small part of the exit opportunity anyway.
  2. A merged Microsoft/Yahoo will be so slow-moving it will create more opportunities for competition than it destroys.

Andreesen certainly knows about slow-moving behemoths making wasted acquisitions; Netscape was acquired by two companies (AOL and Sun) that both dribbled away the parts they respectively acquired.* However, I think he and a lot of other observers are missing something this time — the Microsoft/Yahoo synergies are too large to ignore.

*The legalities of the merger were a lot more complicated than that, but in essence AOL got the “internet” piece of Netscape and Sun got the enterprise side.

Given the opportunity, here are some reasons I think integration would go a lot better than most people think: Read more

February 3, 2008

19 Microsoft/Yahoo synergies that could revolutionize the Internet

Many – perhaps most — commentators on Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo are thoroughly missing the point. The most interesting part of Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo isn’t the horse-race retrospective “How did they screw up so much as to need each other?” It’s not the incipient bidding war for Yahoo. And it’s certainly not the antitrust implications.

The Microsoft/Yahoo combination could revolutionize the Internet. I’m serious. The opportunities for huge synergies might just be enough to blast the merged companies out of their current uncreative, Innovator’s Dilemma funks. Search is open for radical transformation in user interface, universal search relevancy, Web/enterprise integration, and just about everything to do with advertising and monetization. Email stands to be utterly reinvented. Portals and business intelligence have only scratched the surface of their potential. And social networking is of course in its infancy.

Here’s an overview of where some synergies and opportunities for a combined Microsoft/Yahoo lie. Read more

February 1, 2008

Implications of Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo

As I write this, Microsoft has just announced an offer to acquire Yahoo. Early responses from the likes of Danny Sullivan, Henry Blodget, the Download Squad, TechCrunch, Raven SEO, Mashable, and others seem to boil down to:

I’ll try to be a bit more analytical than that, but this is still going to be quick. Assuming the deal goes through:

  1. Microsoft will recombine both parts of the old FAST/alltheweb.com Therefore, Microsoft will be able to use the same technology for web and enterprise search, to the extent that such commonality makes sense.
  2. I’d expect Microsoft to try to differentiate its technology via faceted/structured search. That’s a FAST strength.
  3. The old FAST search-as-BI dream might become pretty appealing to Microsoft/Yahoo.
  4. In a non-search point, Microsoft is strong in games and Yahoo is strong in fantasy sports. Look for some synergies.
  5. There sure would be a whole lot of non-Windows technology inside Microsoft. 🙂

Basically, Microsoft is a company that’s a lot more sophisticated in its thinking about user interfaces and experiences than Yahoo is. That’s where the really interesting competitive innovation would be most likely to occur.

January 31, 2008

The biggest text analytics company you probably never heard of

I caught up with Expert System S.p.A. last week. They turn out to be doing $10 million in text technology annual revenue. That alone is surprising (sadly), but what’s really remarkable is that they did it almost entirely in the Italian market. As you might guess, that figure includes a little bit of everything, from search engines to Italian language filters for Microsoft Office to text mining. But only $3 ½ million of Expert System’s revenue is from the government (and I think that includes civilian agencies), and under 30% is professional services, so on the whole it seems like a pretty real accomplishment. Oh yes – Expert Systems says it’s entirely self-funded.

As of last year, Expert System also has English-language products, and a couple of minor OEM sales in the US (for mobile search and semantic web applications). German- and Arabic-language products are in beta test. The company says that its market focus going forward is national security – surely the reason for the Arabic – and competitive intelligence. It envisions selling through partners such as system integrators, although I think that makes more sense for the government market than it does vis-a-vis civilian companies. In February the company is introducing a market intelligence product focused on sentiment analysis.

Expert System is a bit of a throwback, in that it talks lovingly of the semantic network that informs its products. Read more

January 17, 2008

Lynda Moulton on enterprise search

Lynda Moulton and I see enterprise search quite similarly, as I discovered when she called me yesterday to praise my post on the many differences between enterprise and web search, and followed up with this one of her own. One of Lynda’s big themes is that large enterprises, much as they use multiple database management systems, use multiple search engines too. Read more

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