Archive for Beyond Search

Beyond Intent

Intent, hidden within a search click, lies at the intersection of Search and Business, as in “let’s do some business”. That search click has extra-ordinary value because of the intent to buy — that’s why we’re searching, right?

Perhaps, or maybe we’re just browsing, or surfing, and we’re not in the mood for advertisements. It could be more militant than that; perhaps we’re still trying to research our choices and would see a sales pitch as tainting the honesty of the information. At least that’s what the founders of Google originally believed.

Although the model of the web was a set of stateless pages, and a Google search box certainly fits that appearance, people’s intent is not stateless. It ebbs and flows, from entertaining looking around, to researching choices and comparing possibilities, through sourcing a chosen product (now we’re talking about a qualified buyer), to selecting fulfillment options, and possibly all the way to figuring out how to return a product that we’re dissatisfied with. That last one is probably not the best time to present an ad claiming how wonderful that product is.

This is a “long running transaction,” a series of steps that fit together and flow towards (and past) a purchasing decision, but with back-currents and eddies. And it really is a transaction in the database sense where a failure during one step can cause the entire sequence to be discarded as if it never happened. Though if you believe Sergey and Larry, it will be worse than never happening, you may lose trust in your guide through that transaction.

Has the intent changed? Depends on what that means. On one hand, what has changed across those steps is the mode of the intent. If the intent was to purchase a product, then the research, comparison, purchase, and fulfillment were clearly pieces of that intent, though they call for different approaches: organic search for the research, product focused responses for the purchase, perhaps service-oriented for the fulfillment, and some combination for the comparison.

But what about that “I need to return this product because I hate it” step? The intent has clearly changed, but it is more necessary than ever to connect this new intent to the previous steps. If not, perhaps the search engine will continue to suggest that product to a disgruntled customer with very counter-productive results.

So, what is the unifying concept? Is it intent, organized by modes? Not if what is being unified is a complete user’s story about their purchasing experience.

“Beyond Search” at Gilbane San Francisco

We have a lot of search coverage at our San Francisco conference in a couple of weeks, including a conference keynote, a track keynote, multiple panel sessions, and an in-depth workshop. To complement all of this we are offering a 20% discount to registered attendees who order Beyond Search: What to do When Your Enterprise Search System Doesn’t Work, by Stephen Arnold. Steve is being interviewed by Lynda Moulton in the Enterprise Search track keynote, so you can pepper him with questions after you read the report. All registered attendees will automatically get an email with the coupon code to use for the discount. If you can’t make it to San Francisco you can still get the report at .
Find out more about what we’ll be covering in our search track on Lynda’s search blog.

New Research Reports and New Report Home

Our Publishing Practice released a new report this week: Digital Magazine and Newspaper Editions – Growth, Trends, and Best Practices. This is an interesting study especially because it is not an area covered much, if at all, by other firms. Bill Rosenblatt, who co-authored the report with Steve Paxhia, blogged about the report yesterday. You can download the report at no charge from our new “Research Reports” page.
The new page will be the place to find a listing of our most current reports and studies. You can also find information there about Beyond Search: What to do When Your Enterprise Search System Doesn’t Work, by Stephen Arnold, which we released in April (and which is not free – but a great deal!).
We have 5 more reports in the works to be published in the next couple of months, and realized we needed a home for this new series of publications. While you can find most anything on our site with our Google custom search, we have reports going back to 1993, as well as many other types of publications, and thought a new home for current reports would make for a friendlier site.

Beyond Search report introductory price available for 1 more week

In case you missed it, we published our latest report, Beyond Search: What to do When Your Enterprise Search System Doesn’t Work, by Stephen Arnold, early last week, and it is available at a special introductory price through April 25. More details are at: , or you can go right to the store at: .

Enterprise Whatever

As many of you know, we will be publishing a new report by Stephen Arnold in the next few weeks. The title, Beyond Search: What to do When Your Enterprise Search System Doesn’t Work, begs the question of whether there is such a thing as “enterprise search”. The title of Lynda’s consulting practice blog “Enterprise Search Practice Blog”, begs the same question. In the case of content management, a similar question is begged by AIIM – “The Enterprise Content Management Association” (ECM) and the recent AIIM conference.

The debate about whether “enterprise fill-in-your-favorite-software-application” makes any sense at all is not new. The terms “Enterprise Document Management” (EDM) and “Enterprise Resource Planning” (ERP) were first used in the 80s, and, at least in the case of EDM, were just as controversial. We have Documentum to thank for both EDM and ECM. Documentum’s original mission was to be the Oracle of documents, so EDM probably seemed like an appropriate term to use. Quickly however, the term was appropriated by marketing pros from many vendors, as well as analysts looking for a new category of reports and research to sell, and conference organizers keeping current with the latest buzzwords (I don’t exclude us from this kind of activity!). It was also naively misused by many enterprise IT (as opposed to “personal IT” I suppose) professionals, and business managers who were excited by such a possibility.

ECM evolved when the competition between the established EDM vendors and the fast growing web content management vendors reached a point where both saw they couldn’t avoid each other (for market cap as well as user requirement reasons). Soon, any vendor with a product to manage any kind of information that existed outside of (or even sometimes even in) a relational database, was an “ECM” vendor. This was what led AIIM to adopt and try to define and lay claim to the term – it would cover all of the records management and scanner vendors who were their existing constituents, and allow them to appeal to the newer web content management vendors and practitioners as well.

We used to cover the question “Is there any such thing as ECM?” in our analyst panels at our conferences, and usually there would be some disagreement among the analysts participating, but our mainly enterprise IT audience largely became savvy enough to realize it was a non-issue.

Why is it a non-issue?

Mainly because the term has almost no useful meaning. Nobody puts all their enterprise content in a single ECM repository. It doesn’t even make sense to use the same vendors’ products across all departments even in small organizations. – that is why there is such a large variety of vendors with wildly different functionality at ECM events such as AIIM. The most that you can assume when you hear “ECM vendor” is that they probably support more than one type of content management application, and that they might scale to some degree.

There are many who think it not unreasonable to have a single “enterprise search” application for all enterprise content. If you are new to search technology this is understandable, since you may think simple word or phrase search should be able to work across repositories. But, of course, it is not at all that simple, and if you want to know why see Stephen’s blog or Lynda’s blog, among others. Both Steve and Lynda are uncomfortable with “enterprise search”. Steve prefers the term “behind the firewall search”. Lynda sticks with the term but with a slightly different definition, although I don’t think they disagree at all on how the term is misused and misinterpreted.

Why use “Enterprise … Whatever” terms at all?

There is only one reason, and that is that buyers and users of technology use these terms as a shortcut, sometimes naively, but also sometimes with full understanding. There is just no getting around the barrier of actual language use. Clearly, using the shortcut is only the first step in communicating – more dialog is required for meaningful understanding.

Sign up for our “Beyond Search” Report

We’ll be publishing our special report by Stephen Arnold, Beyond Search: What to do When you’re Enterprise Search System Doesn’t Work soon – most likely at the beginning of April, and have set-up a page where you can sign-up to be notified when the report will be available at . There will also be a special price for early orders and we’ll be providing that info shortly.
Steve has also set-up a page describing the report at: , and has a blog where he is providing some supplementary material. Also keep an eye on Lynda’s blog where she might have some comments while she is doing some editing.

Beyond Search and Search

As many of you know from our press release at Gilbane Boston, two of the reports we will be publishing in the next few of months have to do with search. Lynda Moulton, who runs our Enterprise Search consulting practice is working on Enterprise Search Markets and Applications: Capitalizing on Emerging Demand, and our colleague Steve Arnold is writing Beyond Search: What to do When you’re Enterprise Search System Doesn’t Work. Lynda’s report covers the “Enterprise Search” market, what organizations are doing with the variety of technologies considered to be enterprise search products, and what their experiences have been. By the way Lynda is collecting experiences about implementations and would love to hear about yours.

Steve’s report is a look at what is coming next, and is largely, but not only, based on an analysis of what Google is doing, what they are planning on doing, and the emerging ecosystem they are creating. This is fascinating stuff. Steve has recently launched a must-read blog, Beyond Search, where you can get a peek at some of what will be in our report. For example, see his thoughts on enterprise search terminology.

Both reports will be important tools for enterprise IT strategists and executives. We’ll keep you posted on their progress.