Analysis of e-commerce oriented structured search technology vendor Mercado and its products. Related subjects include:

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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July 16, 2007

Progress EasyAsk

I dropped by Progress a couple of weeks ago for back-to-back briefings on Apama and EasyAsk. EasyAsk is Larry Harris’ second try at natural language query, after the Intellect product fell by the wayside at Trinzic, the company Artificial Intelligence Corporation grew into.* After a friendly divorce from the company he founded, if my memory is correct, Larry was able to build EasyAsk very directly on top of the Intellect intellectual property.

*Other company or product names in the mix at various times include AI Corp and English Wizard. Not inappropriately, it seems that Larry has quite an affinity for synonyms …

EasyAsk is still a small business. The bulk is still in enterprise query, but new activity is concentrated on e-commerce applications. While Larry thinks that they’ve solved most of the other technical problems that have bedeviled him over the past three decades, the system still takes too long to implement. Read more

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.

February 15, 2007

InQuira’s and Mercado’s approaches to structured search

InQuira and Mercado both have broadened their marketing pitches beyond their traditional specialties of structured search for e-commerce. Even so, it’s well worth talking about those search technologies, which offer features and precision that you just don’t get from generic search engines. There’s a lot going on in these rather cool products.

In broad outline, Mercado and InQuira each combine three basic search approaches:

Of the two, InQuira seems to have the more sophisticated ontology. Indeed, the not-wholly-absurd claim is that InQuira does natural-language processing (NLP). Both vendors incorporate user information in deciding which search results to show, in ways that may be harbingers of what generic search engines like Google and Yahoo will do down the road. Read more

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