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Tag: Beyond Search (Page 1 of 2)

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. Though there is some overlap, also see the Search and Semantic Technology category

Enterprise Search and the Conference Season

My blog has been silent for several weeks as I wrapped up a study of the enterprise search marketplace. More information about the report will be forthcoming in the next week or so. In the meantime, the conference season is upon us with the Infonortics Search Engine conference just held in Boston, the Enterprise Search Summit in New York next week, TextAnalytics being held in Boston in mid-June and our own Gilbane San Francisco Conference being held June 18 – 20th. It is a feast for those in the market to buy or just become more familiar with the huge number of options. In my recent research on the marketplace I interviewed a number of people who had recently made a procurement of a search product. To a person there was significant pain expressed about how much time had been spent examining and rejecting options. With well over 100 search and “beyond search” products that are now commercially viable on the market, you need to find ways to winnow your choices efficiently. There is no better way to do this than to acquire publications that give you comprehensive information concentrated in one place PLUS going to conferences to:

  1. To meet vendors and assess the type of business relationship you are likely to experience with them
  2. Meet other users or potential users of the various technologies to learn, first hand, what their experiences have been buying and using search software

Attending conference sessions where case studies are being given by those deploying or using software is important, but discussions on the side can also be valuable. People who show up at our Gilbane Conferences are a sharing crowd and are easy to network with. As the track chairman for all the enterprise search sessions in San Francisco, I plan to hold at least one and maybe two roundtable discussions, open to anyone who wants to participate in a free flow of ideas about enterprise search. This will likely be in the location of the lunch venue – so we can pick at our food and each others’ brains, simultaneously.

Over the next couple of weeks, I plan to showcase the themes for our search sessions in San Francisco, beginning with the Search Keynote. Last year in Boston we had a panel discussion of search executives and analysts; that was a great discussion. This June I am going to thrust Steve Arnold, author of our new publication Beyond Search, into our spotlight with a series of questions about the marketplace to discover things that he thinks buyers should be focused on over the next six months plus soliciting some thoughts on selecting appropriate technologies. He will surely add commentary on the changing vendor landscape and what it means. Once I have had a go at questioning him, the audience will have a chance to seek his guidance. This is a “not to be missed” session so please put it on your calendar – it will not be recorded.

To warm you up to Mr. Arnold’s style and range of thoughts on the subject, check out this recent interview he gave to Jess Bratcher of Bratcher & Associates.

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.

Parsing the Enterprise Search Landscape

Steve Arnold’s Beyond Search report is finally launched and ready for purchase. Reviewing it gave me a different perspective on how to look at the array of 83 search companies I am juggling in my upcoming report: Enterprise Search Markets and Applications. For example, technological differentiators can channel your decisions about must haves/have nots in your system selection. Steve codifies considerations and details 15 technology tips that will help you frame those considerations.

We are getting ready for the third Gilbane Conference in which “search” has been a significant part of the presentation landscape in San Francisco, June 17 – 20th.Six sessions will be filled with case studies and enlightening “how-to-do-it-better” guidance from search experts with significant “hands-on” experience in the field. I will be conducting a workshop, immediately after the conference, How to Successfully Adopt and Deploy Search. Presentations by speakers and the workshop will focus on users’ experiences and guidance for evaluating, buying and implementing search. Viewing search from a usage perspective begs a different set of classification criteria for divvying up the products.

In February, Business Trends published an interview I gave them in December, Revving up Search Engines in the Enterprise. There probably isn’t much new in it for those who routinely follow this topic but if you are trying to find ways to explain what it is, why and how to get started, you might find some ideas for opening the discussion with others in your business setting. The intended audience is those who don’t normally wallow in search jargon. This interview pretty much covers the what, why, who, and when to jump into procuring search tools for the enterprise.

For my report, I have been very pleased with discussions I’ve had with a couple dozen people immersed in evaluating and implementing search for their organizations. Hearing them describe their experiences guides other ways to organize a potpourri of search products and how buyers should approach their selection. With over eighty products we have a challenge in how to parse the domain. I am segmenting the market space into multiple dimensions from the content type being targeted by “search” to the packaging models the vendors offer. When laying out a simple “ontology” of concepts surrounding the search product domain, I hope to clarify why there are so many ways of grouping the tools and products being offered. If vendors read the report to decide which buckets they belong in for marketing and buyers are able to sort out the type of product they need, the report will have achieved one positive outcome. In the meantime, read Frank Gilbane’s take on the whole topic of enterprise tacked onto any group of products.

As serendipity would have it, a colleague from Boston KM Forum, Marc Solomon, just wrote a blog on a new way of thinking of the business of classifying anything, “Word Algebra.” And guess who gave him the inspiration, Mr. Search himself, Steve Arnold. As a former indexer and taxonomist I appreciate this positioning of applied classification. Thinking about why we search gives us a good idea for how to parse content for consumption. Our parameters for search selection must be driven by that WHY?

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.

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