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Speaker Spotlight: John Felahi – Making content findable

In another installment of Speaker Spotlight, we posed a couple of our frequently asked questions to speaker John Felahi, Chief Strategy Officer at Content Analyst Company, LLC. We’ve included his answers here. Be sure to see additional Speaker Spotlights from our upcoming conference.


Speaker Spotlight: John Felahi

Chief Strategy Officer

Content Analyst Company, LLC


What is the best overall strategy for delivering content to web, multiple mobile, and upcoming digital channels? What is the biggest challenge? Development and maintenance cost? Content control? Brand management? Technology expertise?

One of the biggest challenges to delivering content to the web is making it as findable as possible to potential interested viewers.  While traditional, manual tagging and keyword search methods may have gotten us this far, and may be good enough for some use cases, they’re still not without limitations. The good news is, there are far more advanced, sophisticated – and automated – technologies available to remedy the numerous limitations of manual tagging content and keyword-based search. The limitations of manual tagging and keyword-based include:

  • Term creep – New terms constantly emerge, requiring taxonomies to be constantly updated.
  • Polysemy – Take Apple, for example. Is your user searching for the company, the Beatles’ record label, or the fruit?
  • Acronyms – Texting has introduced an entirely new language of acronyms (LOL, TTYL, WDYT).  Manually tagging content requires the editor to consider possible acronyms the users will be searching for.
  • Abbreviations – Tagging content with long, scientific terms, geographies, etc. require editors to factor these in along with the long terms they represent.
  • Misspellings – Thanks to spellcheck and autocorrect, technology has become much more forgiving for those who never made it past the first round eliminations in their sixth grade spelling bee. Content search, unfortunately, needs to be equally accommodating, if you want your users to find your content – which means tagging it with common misspellings.
  • Language – The web has certainly made the world a much smaller place, but that doesn’t mean everyone speaks English.  Making content findable in any language means it has to also be tagged in multiple languages.

On to the good news – there’s technology that’s been used for years in eDiscovery and the US Intelligence Community to overcome these very challenges, but for different reasons. Because the bad guys aren’t tagging their content to make it more findable, the intel community needs a better way to find what they’re looking for. And in eDiscovery, finding relevant content can make a multi-million dollar difference to the outcome of a particular litigation or other regulatory matter. That’s why tens of thousands of legal reviewers and countless analysts in the intel community use a technology known as concept-aware advanced analytics.

How concept-aware advanced analytics differs from manual tagging and keyword search

As its name implies, concept-aware understands the underlying concepts within the content. As such, it can tag content automatically.  On the viewer’s side, content can be found by simply saying, “find more like this.” Categories are defined by taking examples that represent the concepts of a category. The system “learns” what that category is all about, and can then identify conceptually similar content and apply the same category. The process is the same on the search side. The user points to a piece of content and says, “find more like this.” Or as the content publisher, you present the viewer with conceptually similar content, i.e., “you may also be interested in these articles.”

While concept-aware advanced analytics doesn’t necessarily replace manual tagging and keyword search – which work very well in certain situations – the technology clearly overcomes many of the limitations of traditional tagging and search methods.

Catch Up with John at Gilbane

Track E: Content, Collaboration, and the Employee Experience

E7: Strategic Imperatives for Enterprise Search to Succeed
Wednesday, December, 4: 2:00 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.

Complete Program Conference Schedule Register Today

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Gilbane Conference program and speakers posted

The Gilbane Conference program and speaker list are now available in addition to the conference schedule and pre-conference workshop schedule and program – there are just a few details to be added. Other changes between now and the conference will be minimal and will be reflected on the site if/as they occur, so check back once in a while.

The schedule for the product labs/case studies presented by sponsors will also be posted shortly.

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Speaker proposal update

Thanks all for the speaker proposals!

Next step is a preliminary organization by the program committee to see if we have all the topics covered.

If you have submitted a proposal remember that it may be a few weeks before a decision is made, but we will keep you posted here on our overall progress.

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New posts on embedded search and mobile development

Check out two new posts this week on the Bluebill blog, one from Lynda on Embedded Search in the Enterprise, and one from Frank on Time to Re-check Your Mobile Development Strategy.

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Justifying Enterprise Search: Mitigating Risk and Getting the Right Fit

Today we highlight Workshop C: Justifying Enterprise Search: Mitigating Risk and Getting the Right Fit taking place at Gilbane Boston, November 29, 9:00am – 12:00pm at the Westin Waterfront.

While enterprise search has been debated, maligned, and challenged as a high value infrastructure application over the past decade, it has a place in every enterprise with valuable content. This presentation highlights how to make the right decisions about enterprise search applications. From embedded search to high-end semantic applications, the options are numerous and the technologies solid. However, the right choice is imperative and basing selection on business priorities requires artful analysis and justification. Illustrating the risks of continuing to operate with a faulty search solution is a good way to focus thinking about the search environment in any organization.


Lynda Moulton, Senior Analyst & Consultant, Outsell Gilbane Services

Register today!

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Google and Microsoft debate Enterprise Search in keynote at Gilbane San Francisco

Join us on April 11, 8:30am at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco for Gilbane San Francisco 2007

We have expanded our opening keynote to include a special debate between Microsoft and Google on Enterprise Search and Information Access, in addition to our discussion on all content technologies with IBM, Oracle & Adobe.

You still have time to join us for this important and lively debate at the Palace Hotel, April 11. The keynote is open to all attendees, even those only planning to visit the technology showcase. The full keynote runs from 8:30am to 10:15am followed by a coffee break and the opening of the technology showcase, and now includes:

Keynote Panel: Content Technology Industry Update PART 2
Google and Microsoft are competing in many areas on many levels. One area which both are ramping-up quickly is enterprise search. In this part of the opening keynote, we bring the senior product managers face to face to answer our questions about their plans and what this means for enterprise information access and content management strategies.

Moderator: Frank Gilbane, Conference Chair, CEO, Gilbane Group, Inc.
Jared Spataro, Group Product Manager, Enterprise Search, Microsoft
Nitin Mangtani, Lead Product Manager, Google Search Appliance, Google

See the complete keynote description.

Gilbane San Francisco 2007
Content management, enterprise search, localization, collaboration, wikis, publishing …
Complete conference information is at

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Mondosoft Releases Technology Preview of MondoSearch for EPiServer v.2.0

Mondosoft and EPiServer released a Technology Preview of MondoSearch for EPiServer v.2.0 to its partner community. The Technology Preview Edition of MondoSearch for EPiServer is available now for download and comes with a demo script for an overview of features and benefits. The new integration presents the same look-and-feel as EPiServer’s interface and allows web administrators access to all search and search analytics data directly within the EPiServer environment. MondoSearch for EPiServer v.2 contains two elements that help web administrators manage and improve content on their site: a search engine coupled with BehaviorTracking, Mondosoft’s search analytics module. BehaviorTracking is a new addition to MondoSearch for EPiServer v.2 and provides: Overview reports with valuable information on where to optimize the site based on data provided by visitors; Information on site performance including what visitors are looking for, based on Top Search Words, Top Not Found Search Words, Top Not Clicked, Top Links Chosen; Information on visitors’ interests and activity on the site to help measure the success of marketing initiatives; The option to guide visitors to the right data using synonyms; and The ability to set up watch groups and track behavior and trends. Mondosoft for EPiServer v.2.0 is scheduled for final release October 18, 2006. The Technology Preview Edition of MondoSearch for EPiServer v.2. is available now for free download at ,

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Enterprise Search Market Health

Our friends over at CMS Watch have released an updated version of their Enterprise Search Report. The report suggests a healthy enterprise market and covers 28 vendors. There is a free excerpt available. A few of the findings (taken from the press release) are:

- IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft continue to struggle to rationalize multiple search technologies and strategies. Oracle’s “Secure Enterprise Search 10g” product may be the most straightforward offering of the three, but it has not yet seen extensive customer testing.
- Smaller search vendors continue to exploit Microsoft’s inability to develop effective search solutions atop SharePoint. Mondosoft, Coveo, dtSearch, and others are likely to continue offering value-added capabilities after the release of Microsoft’s new search services in SharePoint 2007.
- Google’s search appliance has disrupted the market, but customer testing still often finds the appliance lacking in “tune-ability” and integration capabilities.
- Faceted or “guided” navigation capabilities originally associated with enterprise search vendor Endeca have gone from product differentiator to widespread feature. Customers can obtain faceted navigation capabilities from several low-cost search vendors. Now, the key differentiator is the extent to which a search system can successfully autogenerate a useful set of metadata “facets” with minimal customer intervention.

Steve Arnold, the main author of the report, will be leading a couple of sessions on Enterprise Search at our upcoming conference with CMS Watch in Washington DC June 13 -15. Join us there and get more details from Steve.

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I’ve been thinking about what makes me a little crazy about search sites

I’ve been thinking a lot about the best models for enterprise search lately because I work with clients who are mostly unhappy with the way their current enterprise search technology doesn’t result in meaningful content results, or because they are trying to find better ways of categorizing the content for easier access. One technique that I use to elicit feedback on possible approaches is to find examples on the Web of search interfaces that I believe are worth consideration. While I work with corporations with a heavy amount of R&D related content, I use examples as diverse as UN sites, catalogs, health care organizations, and so on, to get everyone’s imaginations working on the possible ways we could present content search options.
In some cases I am working to achieve a browsable construct for a taxonomy (that doesn’t necessarily look like a conventional taxonomy) and in other cases I may be trying to expose the searcher to “advanced” search features without getting into explanations of Boolean options, while still supporting them.
I have recently found a mental digression by thinking more about the reactions I get when I forward links to my clients for “design consideration and feedback.” The reactions seem to be quite visceral and, I’ll admit, mine are, too. I am beginning to segregate likes and dislikes into highly textual interfaces with very sparse graphics vs. interfaces that offer (or attempt to offer) a highly graphical layout of the window. Personally, I have no problem with graphics when they fit or mesh with the text but I realize that I ignore most pictorial graphics. Even when I attempt to use symbolic icons in a graphical interface I encounter for the first time, the struggle to connect meaning to the picture is not worth my effort.
The most confounding interfaces are those with a lot of text and a lot of pictures all mixed in, especially without a cohesive and minimalist color palette. I remember a strange disconnect several months into using Google. A significant holiday day came when they jazzed up their Google imprint. I was certain that it reflected a change in product design and “I didn’t like it.” When someone assured me that it was just a little “Google” fun, I accepted it but I still don’t like having them mess with the pure interface. When they moved the “directories” tab from the main page, it annoyed me and I don’t use it nearly as much any more, first because it is on a new page and second because it has a little picture attached that doesn’t mean “directories” to me.
Guess I’m still mired in the IBM “KISS” mode but I do like my text clean and simple. Take a look at Siderean’s demo – just the way I like it, no frills. No pictures are worth a thousand words to me.

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New Gilbane Report Covers Knowledge Management

We published our lastest report KM as a Framework for Managing Knowledge Assets to subscribers over the weekend. Here is our Intro:

As long-time readers know, “knowledge management” (KM) is a topic we have mostly avoided, especially during the peak of the hype surrounding it in the mid-nineties when even CRT displays were being marketed as “knowledge management solutions”. We also did our best at the time to convince document management vendors that repackaging themselves as KM vendors was a big mistake. Eventually, vendors ended-up adopting the other, more reasonable choice, i.e., “content management”. (For more on this evolution see Vol 8, Num 8: What is Content Management?).

In spite of the mostly negative things we had to say about KM, we did recognize there was a real, identifiable problem that a combination of business practices and processes, with the help of a little technology, could address. In fact, and this was part of the cause of the vendor frenzy, businesses thought of many of their information management problems as knowledge management problems. You can argue that the concept is flawed, but you can’t tell the customer they don’t have a problem.

Today, the idea of KM is much more respectable – there is less hype, and a lot more understanding of the role technology can legitimately play in helping companies better manage their knowledge assets. Contributor Lynda Moulton is one technologist and KM expert that has helped KM become reputable. Her advice in this issue is valuable, current, and hype-free.

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