Analysis of structured search/”information discovery” technology vendor Endeca and its products.

November 25, 2012

The future of search

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:

My reasoning starts from several observations:

In principle, there are two main ways to make search better:

The latter, I think, is where significant future improvement will be found.

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August 3, 2007

The case for Inxight Awareness Server

I’ve been pretty skeptical about Inxight’s Awareness Server. My theory is that ordinary enterprise search engines can index remotely anyway, and they offer much better search functionality. Inxight’s Ian Hersey was kind enough to write in and offer two counter-arguments.

First, Ian points out that there are circumstances when, due to security and permissions, you can’t really index everything via one search engine. Specifically, he offers the government as an example. OK, I can see that in the government, with its classified and/or regulated silos. However, I have trouble thinking of many more examples. While there certainly are plenty of instances where a variety of organizations share information on a somewhat arms-length basis, it’s tough to think of such cases where federated text search would come into play.

Second, Ian in essence disputes my claim of inferior functionality. While implicitly conceding — as well he should! — that Inxight’s Awareness Server doesn’t do some things full-featured search engines do, he points out analytic features that may not be found in conventional search engine offering. The big one he calls out is faceted search — which of course was the core of Intelliseek, the acquisition Awareness Server came from. Hmm. Faceted search has a checkered history, with Excite and Northern Light being perhaps the most visible among many failures. On the other hand, it’s a great idea that keeps being tried, and some versions — notably Endeca’s — have turned out well.

I guess I’ll have to reserve judgment on that part until I look at Inxight’s product and see what they do and don’t actually have.

May 1, 2007

Huge e-commerce gains claimed by everybody

The folks at Progress claim huge conversion rate benefits to EasyAsk, although unfortunately so far I’ve been unable to drill down and see what those numbers really mean. (Flagship customer = Land’s End.) Baynote makes more modest but still large claims. (Flagship customer = no big names that I’m aware of.) Endeca is clearly the market leader. (Flagship customers = Wal-Mart, Home Depot.) Mercado and Inquira are important players, at least in certain verticals.

I think it’s safe to say that e-commerce site navigation aids constitute a really important product category.

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