Fierce Criticism of SharePoint

September 30, 2010

I have lost interest in SharePoint and SharePoint search. Not much strikes me as new and improved. Nevertheless, when my newsreader spits out an interesting link from Fierce, I do scan it. “New Survey Reveals Dissatisfaction with SharePoint” caught my attention and provided me an opportunity to write an ambiguous headline. Surveys, as readers of this blog, know are suspect to me from the git-go. There’s the issue of sample size, sample selection, question shaping, and analytic methods. These juicy items are tough to get even when you have the survey wonks who did to work sitting directly in front of me.

Here’s the passage that caught my attention:

For instance a whopping 78 percent of respondents reported that SharePoint “user experience was inadequate,” while only 17.6 percent chose that SharePoint was “great and adequately met their needs.”

So, unhappy campers. You can read more about the survey’s findings in the Fierce write up.

My questions:

  1. Why is a product so widely used generating so much discontent?
  2. Why aren’t the third party, certified vendors making more of this discontent? My view is that these folks pay money to be certified and don’t want to anger their meal ticket.
  3. When will the open source community exploit this pain point?

In the meantime, I will maintain my present position and waddle forward without much concern. No search worries. No governance worries. No metatagging worries. Life is good at the goose pond. I will leave those worries to the CFOs who have to figure out why SharePoint is so darned interesting when it comes to costs.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2010

Freebie

MarkLogic Reveals Strategies for Publishers

September 30, 2010

A reader sent me a copy of a news release from MarkLogic. “MarkLogic Unveils Strategies for Publishers to Create Innovative New Tools and Products at Frankfurt Book Fair 2010” contained some interesting information. Here are two points that jumped out at me:

  • MarkLogic’s customers include, if I read the news release correctly, seem to include McGraw-Hill, Springer, Pearson Education, Thomson Reuters, John Wiley & Sons, Simon & Schuster, and Oxford University Press. That’s an impressive line up, and it certainly suggests that the company has been inroads in a number of top firms. The implication is that MarkLogic will continue to capture customers in this segment.
  • MarkLogic’s system allows its customers to create new products and streamline work flow, aggregate content, syndicate content, and deliver content. The outputs? Print, of course, as well as mobile devices and digital products.

My take on this announcement is that MarkLogic has shifted from offering an XML solution to a broader information solution. XML is still there, but the message in the news release for me is that MarkLogic allows publishers to generate new revenue, reduce costs, and support the consumer’s growing appetite for content when it is wanted and how it is wanted. Looks to me that I will have to chase down a MarkLogic senior manager and find out more about the firm’s positioning for 2010 and beyond.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2010

Freebie

Discovering Facebook Pages

September 30, 2010

Short honk: If you are a Facebook user, you may find the official Page Browser useful. The tool makes it easy to look at thumbnails and “discover” Facebook pages. Our thought was a StumbleUpon.com for Facebook. You view may be different. Point your browser at “Page Browser Officially Launched : A Perfect Way To Discover Interesting Facebook Pages.” The write up said:

Discovering Facebook Pages of your interests are very easy, just head towards Page Browser where you will find an array of thumbnails representing Facebook communities. If you feel something is of your interest, just hover over the thumbnail and a like button will pop up. Click it and you will get all news from that community incorporated in your News feed. If you want to know more about the community, just click the title under the thumbnail.

Why fiddle with a query when you can look at pictures? It is the 21st century way.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2010

Freebie

Decisiv Search and SolSearch: Now Unified Search

September 30, 2010

This story in Information World Review interested me: “Recommind and Solcara Collaborate for a Unified Search Solution.” Note: I write a for-fee column for Information World Review. The story concerns Recommind, a vendor which I have traditionally associated with search and content processing for the legal sector. The story also references Solcara, a company that offers what I recall as an intuitive, personalized and integrated search solution across disparate information sources. These include structured information, online services, document management solutions, etc.

Here’s the passage that caught my eye:

Under the partnership, Recommind is integrating its Decisiv Search solution with Solcara’s SolSearch solution. The joint solution is aimed at providing unified access to internal and external sources, saving time and costs.  Together, the two technologies deliver an enterprise search solution that unifies access to all internal data repositories, such as document management systems, know how systems and essential online services, such as Lexis Nexis Library, Thomson’s Westlaw & Lawtel and Practical Law Company (PLC).

The tie up of Decisiv Search and SolSearch obviously adds value to both firms’ search and content processing solutions. The questions that crossed my mind were:

  1. Is this type of tie up a variant of the no-cash mergers that Attensity and Lexalytics implemented? On the surface, the merging of two somewhat similar sets of functionality are difficult for me to unravel?
  2. Are customers likely to come from a specific sector like the US legal market or from broader enterprise search sectors such as those server by SharePoint? I am not sure about the functions of SharePoint, but with products from SharePoint add in vendors, SharePoint seems to off unified access.
  3. How will this type of  tie up affect open source search vendors? With open source search showing some stamina, I wonder if this new merged service will allow both Recommind and Solcara to jump up the value chain?

This is a relationship that warrants further observation.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2010

Freebie

Quote to Note: Microsoft, The Disruptor

September 30, 2010

This statement in “Q&A with Steve Ballmer on Mobile, Search and Facebook” caught my attention. I liked it so much that I want to make it a quote to note. Here’s the passage:

That’s our job to be the disruptor in this business, and we’re going to work hard at it.

I like the idea of Microsoft as a disruptor. I am having some difficulty pinpointing a specific service from Microsoft which I use as a candidate. In terms of disruption, I think about open source search, the Apple iPad, and Facebook. Google and Microsoft, not so much.

This is probably the failing of a 66 year old goose.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2010

Freebie

Facebook, Likes, and Search: Important Now?

September 29, 2010

“Facebook Likes Just Officially Became More Important to Search” calls attention to the “Like” function. The little button is turning up on quite a few Web sites. Part of its charm is that each button and the attendant clicks pump useful data into the maw of Facebook. Google may think Bing.com is its number one competitor, but I think the Xooglers at Facebook are a growing challenge. Nothing works like the scent of a big payoff and knowledge of what the Google can and cannot do refracted through the filter of “been there, done that” folks.

Here’s the passage that caught my attention:

The second one is in line with a feature the company was testing that we mentioned recently. “Consistent with how we treat other Open Graph object types, we’ve introduced the ability to see articles shared by your friends in the search typeahead,” says Facebook’s Namita Gupta.  “For instance, if your friend clicks ‘Like’ on an article at a news site, the article will appear in your News Feed and can now also surface in the search typeahead.” The results, as AllFacebook described upon finding the feature being tested, showed content based on the number of likes and the number of friends who liked the particular object. “The search results have now become dramatically more relevant with the inclusion of recent news articles, something that previously wasn’t accessible via Facebook’s open graph search results,” AllFacebook’s Nick O’Neill had said. “Currently, the search results only appear within the drop down from Facebook’s search box, however I’d assume that this will eventually shift to Facebook’s search area, which has yet to undergo a significant overhaul.”  Either way, there is clearly a direct connection between likes and search now. It’s essentially Facebook’s version of PageRank.

You will want to read the full Chris Crum write up. We want to offer three search-ilicious observations:

  1. The Facebook approach generated curated information, which is a good thing for most Facebook users. Who wants to be a Boolean query expert when “friends” provide the info?
  2. The advertising value of these tiny bits of data are quite interesting. Toss the Likes data in with the profile data and you have a direct marketer’s dream: digital direct marketing to a very tight demographic.
  3. Facebook is going to be able to offer an index of curated (member identified Web sites) and now curated content (member selected stories). Oh, oh. The world of the commercial database producer has just been put on wheels and trundled over to Facebook.

In short, hello, disruption. So it is not just Google who will feel some pressure. Like the good old days of 2006 for Google, other seemingly unrelated business sectors get the evil eye.

Stephen E Arnold, September 29, 2010

Freebie

App Store Developer Perceptions

September 29, 2010

Short honk: If you want some insight into how developers perceived the vendors’ app stores, point your Brower at “What Top App Developers Really Think of the App Stores.” The information comes from a consulting and research company doing business as Open First. I don’t have a good sense of the sample size or of the methodology. This passage caught my attention:

One of the most surprising results was on revenue. The survey showed 81 percent of developers for Ovi Store said they were earning less than they expected, with the corresponding figures being 49 percent for the Android Market and 28 percent for the Apple Store. Unsurprisingly, developers who reported low revenues ascribed this to a combination of inadequate promotion tools, application ranking systems and bad categorization of apps. On the other hand, 48 percent of iPhone developers reported earning more than they expected. So the Apple Store still appears to be the most lucrative for developers.

Suggestive, not definitive, however.

Stephen E Arnold, September 29, 2010

Freebie

Commercial vs Open Source Search

September 29, 2010

Open source platforms have become a familiar and welcome face in the search and faceting arena. The posting “I Was at a Search Vendor Round Table Today” on the ListWare blog is an interesting and at times comical round table discussion about the free search application Solr and how it compares to its big name competitors. Solr is an open source search server that provides individuals with various advanced search and faceting capabilities. Faceted searches are search results broken down into multiple categories and users have the ability to restrict certain information depending on the facets. Representatives from Autonomy, Microsoft, Google, Vivisimo, and Endeca attempted to explain why consumers needed to pay for their big name multi-feature programs. One memorable quote was “open source is as free as a free puppy.”

We agree with the arguments summarized in this article. We also are cognizant of the interest in open source search solutions. The Lucene Revolution, a conference focused on open source search, is—we have heard—nearly sold out. We are watching the boundaries of open source search and commercial search. There are strong arguments on both sides. Toss in commoditization and some search vendors deemphasizing search for licensing connectors or abandoning the search market altogether, and the situation is fluid.

April Holmes, September 29, 2010

Freebie

Connector Craziness: The Next Search Battleground

September 29, 2010

A reader sent me a link to a blog post from one of the mid tier consulting firms. The article is “Document Filters as a Search Proxy War.” I really don’t have much to say about the write up. So I will pretty much ignore it. I do this with quite a bit of blog content as I flap past 66.

However, I would like to add some information that I think those involved in search and content processing may want to have at their fingertips. I am reasonably familiar with the number of connectors available from Autonomy and Oracle. However, the connector world is not limited to two vendors, nor is it likely that most of those in search of connectors are aware that the outcome of a legal matter could – and I emphasize could – have a significant impact on the market. You can read more about this matter in my Information Today column and in a series of posts I am doing for a new Web log that will be available in mid-October. The announcement of the new Web log will appear in Beyond Search and I believe there will be a news release if I remember to alert one of my goslings to the task.

First, EntropySoft is a vendor that offers document connectors. You can get information about that firm’s offerings at www.entropysoft.net.

Second, there is a major dust up in the document connector world, and it is one that is the subject of my October Information Today column. The issue is an allegation by i2 Ltd., a company based in England. The core of the allegation is that improper actions were used to reverse engineer a document connector by Palantir. Depending on the outcome of this legal matter, there may be some modifications in the connector world. The issue is a connector for file type ANB. I have done work for i2.

Third, there are some open source connector initiatives underway. If you have not explored this side of the connector world you can begin with a Google search, a Black Duck search, or navigate to http://openconnector.org. The open source software movement, particularly in light of the Oracle litigation with Google, may have an impact on open source connectors.

There are also connector vendors in Hungary and India, but I won’t list these. When the mid tier consultants recycle my work, I want them to have something to do.

With the financial vice closing on many keyword search firms, one has to be vigilant for partial or edited information. Hiving off connectors is a way to generate cash from “must have” code widgets. A serious connector business is a relatively large undertaking. That is one reason why certain firms eschew connectors completely; others code their own with varying degrees of success; and most firms turn to third parties for a bundle that handles the most common file types.

The goose may be old, but he makes an effort to identify as many sides of an issue as possible. What we have, therefore, is a potential instability in the shift from basic search to more sophisticated information fusion.

Stephen E Arnold, September 29, 2010

Freebie, unlike information from English majors, former journalists, and the azurini of the world

Targit Is Number One

September 29, 2010

I do have a difficult time figuring out how a company makes or does not make one of the many Top 100 lists. I learned on a call this morning that Targit Business Intelligence, a company in Denmark with offices in Tampa is ranked as Number One on a Computerworld’s Top 100 list. Here’s a screenshot of the Targit splash page with the announcement:

targit splash

Kudos to Targit, a company offering a business intelligence suite. We have encountered the system in the past and found it to be a good product. The product fits into the next-generation of content processing systems. Targit says:

TARGIT was founded in 1986, with CEO Morten Sandlykke as one of the founding partners. From the beginning, TARGIT developed and sold Business Management Systems. While starting out as a software company providing applications to the retail and oil business, Targit quickly realized the overwhelming need for analytical processing tools that could help management in day-to-day decision-making. With the acquisition of Morton Systems in 1996, TARGIT started to develop a Business Intelligence tool based on the same basic ideas of usability, versatility and ease of implementation that has always been a Targit trademark. In October 2000, the company was reorganized; the “new” Targit Inc. is a pure business intelligence company that markets only the Business Intelligence product line; Targit BI Suite. The first version of the Targit Business Intelligence technology was launched during spring of 1996. The core technology of Targit Business Intelligence is protected by several international patents.

The company says that it has more than 270 marketing Targit throughout the world and has over 3,700 customers with more than 260,000 named users. You can see some good examples of the system and its interface on the Targit Video Demo Web page.

What caught our attention is the fact that the Computerworld seems to be specific to Denmark. Nothing wrong with that, but my hunch is that the list may be a clever way to open the door for Computerworld ad sales people to ring up a firm on the list. The idea is that advertising in a Computerworld publication, on its Web site, or participating in some other special program is the object of the game. In fact, the list reveals more about Computerworld than the names of the companies placed on the list.

I learned that several conference organizers are shifting to a pay-to-speak model. Other companies are skipping the public conference opportunities and holding user conferences. MicroStrategy contacted me today inviting me to a free business intelligence seminar. The idea is to learn about business intelligence and interact with a business intelligence system. My hunch is that this will be MicroStrategy’s own system.

As search and content processing vendors shift to new markets, I expect that more innovative marketing and promotion opportunities will become available. The problem is that procurement teams are likely to have a very difficult time figuring out what is real, what is marketing, and what is coming in the next release of a particular product.

As search implodes, I think I will be witness to an explosion of content systems that are transforming themselves into different types of companies.

For established players, this creates a need to market better. The good people at Computerworld seem to have hit on a “special” list as one way to boost revenue and, in my opinion, create confusion for those trying to find a system to resolve a quite particular problem. Lists don’t solve problems. I think long lists without context create more work and can lead to confusion. Desperate times call for innovation. Lists. New. Fresh.

Stephen E Arnold, September 29, 2010

Freebie

Next Page »