Drew Robb has written an excellent article that reflects new thinking about the convergence of older and emerging technologies. In Search Converging with Business Intelligence for CRM Daily.com on August 28, 2007 I see similarities to my own way of viewing what is possible with newer search tools. Be sure to read it.

In addition to enterprise search, I actively follow enterprise knowledge management. It has been much debated because of confusion about its links to inappropriate technologies and well-intentioned but costly and failed initiatives in many organizations. But, in spite of rumors about its death, KM will remain a boundless frontier of opportunity. At its best, it leverages collaborative and sharing practices to maximize the value of organizations’ discoveries, developments and learning using innovative and often simple practices that work because they suit a particular culture’s way of operating.

Popular writings about business and technology innovation, plus tools and techniques for collaboration and sharing abound. 2007 is surely the year when search has come to dominate the technology landscape as vendors in BI, text mining and text analytics, data management, and countless semantic and Web 2.0 entrants vie to add refinements, and conversely search integrates features from those technologies.

In August I commented on search offerings that have made a point of highlighting their “Sharepoint” connectivity. Similarly, many products are adding claims for exploiting emails. I have long assumed that email should be part of the search engine crawling and indexing mix for any intranet. Given email structure, it seems to have more useful and usable metadata than a lot of other content. Social network analysis tools have been terrific at revealing fascinating relationships and internal communications within organizations, especially in the discovery area as emails have been a source for exploring questionable business practices in legal proceedings.

More sophisticated analytic and semantic techniques for exploiting concepts in content give hints about how technologies can integrate content by mapping experts to the expertise they contribute, even when it is scattered throughout their work, including emails where so many nuggets may reside. An area for development would correlate nuggets of knowledge in emails to reveal hidden and latent expertise, pointing to other content an individual has produced using search with BI and analytics algorithms.

Maybe I’m overreaching but I suspect that a lot of experts may not be sufficiently motivated, disciplined or expected to aggregate their small but useful contributions into more valuable knowledge. Regardless of the reasons for that failure, much could be revealed with the right blending of search, indexing, analytics and business intelligence technologies. The components already exist but implementation to get desired results are not necessarily easy to deploy. A truly innovative expertise exploitation engine would be a knowledge engine of note, able to synthesize new knowledge in unique and interesting ways. Historically, much has been made about the role of serendipity in the “search for truth” and “quest for knowledge.” With the aid of enhanced search technologies to blend any or many expert nuggets, a lot more serendipity might happen.