Looks like some really interesting stuff will be coming out of Google that will profoundly change both enterprise and consumer search experiences and markets. Lynda Moulton’s post over on our Enterprise Search Blog is a good place to start on what, as of last week, has emerged – thanks to Steve Arnold – about Google’s nearer-than-you-might-think plans.
Steve Arnold of ArnoldIT struck twice in a big way last week, once as a contributor to the Bear, Stearns & Co. research report on Google and once as a principal speaker at Enterprise Search in New York. I’ve read a copy of the Bear Stearns report, which contains information that should make IT people pay close attention to how they manage searchable enterprise content. I can verify that this blog summary of Steve’s New York speech by Larry Digman sounds like vintage Arnold, to the point and right on it. Steve, not for the first time, is making points that analysts and other search experts routinely observe about the lack of serious infrastructure vested in making content valuable by enhancing its searchability.
First is the Bear Stearns report, summarized for the benefit of government IT folks with admonitions about how to act on the technical guidance it provides in this article by Joab Jackson in GCN. The report’s appearance in the same week as Microsoft’s acquisition of aQuantive is newsworthy in itself. Google really ups the ante with their plans to change the rules for posting content results for Internet searches. If Webmasters actually begin to do more sophisticated content preparation to leverage what Google is calling its Programmable Search Engine (PSE), then results using Google search will continue to be several steps ahead of what Microsoft is currently rolling out. In other words, while Microsoft is making its most expensive acquisition to tweak Internet searching in one area, Google is investing its capital in its own IP development to make search richer in another. Experience looking at large software companies tells me that IP strategically developed to be totally in sync with existing products have a much better chance of quick success in the marketplace than companies that do acquisitions to play catch up. So, even though Microsoft, in an acquiring mode, may find IP to acquire in the semantic search space (and there is a lot out there that hasn’t been commercialized), its ability to absorb and integrate it in time to head off this Google initiative is a real tough proposition. I’m with Bear Stearn’s guidance on this one.
OK, on to Arnold’s comments at Enterprise Search, in which he continues a theme to jolt IT folks. As, already noted, I totally agree that IT in most organizations is loath to call on information search professionals to understand the best ways to exploit search engine adoption for getting good search results. But I am hoping that the economic side of search, Web content management for an organization’s public facing content, may cause a shift. Already, I am experiencing Web content managers who are enlightened about how to make content more findable through good metadata and taxonomy strategies. They have figured out how to make good stuff rise to the top with guidance from outside IT. When sales people complain that their prospects can’t find the company’s products online, it tends to spur marketing folks to adjust their Web content strategies accordingly.
It may take a while, but my observation is that when employees see search working well on their public sites, they begin to push for equal quality search internally. Now that we have Google paying serious attention to metadata for the purpose of giving search results semantic context, maybe the guys in-house will begin to get it, too.