Analysis of enterprise search vendor Autonomy and its products.
I believe there are two ways search will improve significantly in the future. First, since talking is easier than typing, speech recognition will allow longer and more accurate input strings. Second, search will be informed by much more persistent user information, with search companies having very detailed understanding of searchers. Based on that, I expect:
- A small oligopoly dominating the conjoined businesses of mobile device software and search. The companies most obviously positioned for membership are Google and Apple.
- The continued and growing combination of search, advertisement/recommendation, and alerting. The same user-specific data will be needed for all three.
- A whole lot of privacy concerns.
My reasoning starts from several observations:
- Enterprise search is greatly disappointing. My main reason for saying that is anecdotal evidence — I don’t notice users being much happier with search than they were 15 years ago. But business results are suggestive too:
- HP just disclosed serious problems with Autonomy.
- Microsoft’s acquisition of FAST was a similar debacle.
- Lesser enterprise search outfits never prospered much. (E.g., when’s the last time you heard mention of Coveo?)
- My favorable impressions of the e-commerce site search business turned out to be overdone. (E.g., Mercado’s assets were sold for a pittance soon after I wrote that, while Endeca and Inquira were absorbed into Oracle.)
- Lucene/Solr’s recent stirrings aren’t really in the area of search.
- Web search, while superior to the enterprise kind, is disappointing people as well. Are Google’s results any better than they were 8 years ago? Google’s ongoing hard work notwithstanding, are they even as good?
- Consumer computer usage is swinging toward mobile devices. I hope I don’t have to convince you about that one.
In principle, there are two main ways to make search better:
- Understand more about the documents being searched over. But Google’s travails, combined with the rather dismal history of enterprise search, suggest we’re well into the diminishing-returns part of that project.
- Understand more about what the searcher wants.
The latter, I think, is where significant future improvement will be found.
|Categories: Autonomy, Coveo, Endeca, Enterprise search, FAST, Google, Lucene, Mercado, Microsoft, Search engines, Speech recognition, Structured search||4 Comments|
Two years ago, CEO Mike Lynch of Autonomy tried to persuade me that Autonomy was and would remain dominant in the e-discovery search market because: Read more
OK. I secured permission to actually quote the details on something I’d previously dropped a small hint about — stream processing for text messages. Traditionally, that’s been the province of enterprise search companies. A decade ago, Verity had a kernel group of 6-7 engineers under Phil Nelson. They managed to produce not only a decent search engine, but a search engine “turned on its side” as well. I.e., instead of running one query against a corpus, they could run many queries each against documents as they arrived, one document at a time. Subsequently, the same idea has been implemented by most enterprise search providers, at least those that are serious about the intelligence market.
Well, the event-processing guys are active in that market too. At least StreamBase is. Read more
|Categories: Autonomy, Business Objects and Inxight, Enterprise search, Search engines, Text mining||2 Comments|
Gartner and Forrester have high opinions of FAST. Not coincidentally, you can download both those firms’ recent search industry survey reports from almost any page of www.fastsearch.com. Of the two, Forrester’s is both better and more recent.
Summarizing brutally, the big firms’ consensus seems to be:
- FAST and Autonomy are the clear leaders.
- Endeca has great technology and is coming on strong.
- Everybody else is a niche player, at least for now.
- Convera is in deep yogurt.
Forrester is particularly harsh on Convera. Presumably this has much to do with the fact that Convera did not cooperate well with the survey process. I shall not speculate as to which way the causality runs there – but I should note that Convera was quite cooperative with my research last week.
I asked Mike Lynch (Autonomy CEO) about text mining. He responded with an example:
A very well-known company “mines” its incoming emails for signs of trouble, not via any linguistics-driven approach, but just by clustering them. If a cluster changes size anomalously over time, it bears close investigation.
I had a couple of very interesting calls with Autonomy last week. One message I got was that they do not want to be pigeonholed in search, which they think on the whole is a primitive way of dealing with “unstructured information.” Nonetheless, my first post based on those calls will indeed focus on text indexing and search. You see, I wrote quite skeptically about the Autonomy/Verity merger when it was announced, and I’d like to amend that with an updated opinion. Autonomy’s claims can be summarized in part by the following: Read more