Exclusive Interview with Kamran Khan

March 15, 2011

Enterprise search vendors are changing their market positioning more quickly than at any other time. The vendors’ technology gets new features and functions. With an already complex system, a licensee often needs the help of specialists to get the system up and running. Other companies may have a search system, find it unsuitable, and need help preparing a business case for a new procurement. In short, almost any facet of an enterprise search project may need specialized expertise.

Search Technologies Corp., a privately held firm, has experienced steady, rapid growth over the last five years. The economic downturn had little effect on the company which now has offices across the US and in the United Kingdom. I was able to talk with the founder of this professional engineering services firm in order to get some insight into why Search Technologies has been unaffected by the economic storms that ripple across the business landscape.

Kamran Khan, the founder of Search Technologies, told me in response to my question, “What’s the secret of Search Technologies’ success?”

The founders and the management team are all veterans of the enterprise search industry with between 15 and 22 years experience. I entered the industry in the early 1990s. We all used to work for major search engine vendors. It seemed to us that most search engines contained great technology but were poorly implemented, and we thought that forming a company focused on helping people to implement search software made a lot of sense. Today, we have more than 80 staff, but implementing search solutions is still all we do. Word of mouth about our competence is another important factor in our success.

(You can read the full text of the interview at this link.)

Many companies assert their expertise in dealing with the search and content processing systems of such companies as Microsoft, Google, Autonomy and others. But customers want more than key words. One hot trend is data fusion or a mash up of disparate information instead of search list. I asked Mr. Khan about this demand. He told me:

Absolutely. Many customers are demanding more than a laundry list of results. Mash ups, data fusion and other sophisticated approaches to information presentation will no doubt proliferate. In our experience, the importance of data structure creation is often under-estimated though. People get excited by cool new features but don’t follow through and plan properly to create the necessary data structures to support the cool features, or put processes in place to maintain data structure quality through time as their data set evolves. Data sets have an annoying habit of evolving, just when you thought you’d nailed the search engine implementation. So a substantial part of our business involves helping customers with existing search systems to address challenges, such as relevancy issues. A lack of attention to detail in preparing the data set for search is often the root cause. This has become a significant part of our business and we’ve established a specific services practice around something we call Document Preparation Methodology for Search. Maintaining data structure requires proven ongoing processes, and not just technology.

To read the full text of my interview with one of the leaders in the search engineering and services sector, navigate to Search Wizards Speak on the ArnoldIT.com Web site. For more information about Search Technologies, visit www.searchtechnologies.com.

Stephen E Arnold, March 15, 2011


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