How to Make a Search Play Work

October 31, 2012

I used to think that technology, solving a problem, and hard work were the keys to success. What do I know? Nothing if “Want to Be Rich? Be Lucky, Know the Right People” is accurate. The NPR story reports that a North Carolinian success believes:

One important decision that led to his success, Hatley says, was moving to Raleigh, where he went to work for Wachovia Bank and made a point of meeting the right people. “I learned a long time ago it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Interpersonal skills trump brains,” Hatley says. “I happened to be on coffee breaks with successful people. I was going on calls with successful people. I was picking up the paper, reading about successful people that I would soon be working with,” he says. “I attribute so much of it to that.”

Assume this is accurate. How bitter must be those innovators who created Convera, Entopia, Delphes, and dozens of other search and content processing vendors. Some of Convera’s ideas are just now finding their way into systems. Entopia had a vision for federated search which included social elements. Delphes designed a system which made sense to financial professionals.

Why did these companies fail? The wrong connections? Bad luck?

What does that mean for venture firms pumping millions into promising companies in hopes of scoring a big win? I think it means that search like many tough problems is a roll of the dice. Join a club. Be sociable. Consult the Delphic oracle.

Learning? Persistence? Maybe over-rated. Little wonder search and content processing systems continue to disappoint many users. Are you feeling lucky?

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2012

Enterprise Search Continues to Adapt

October 31, 2012

Technology either evolves or it dies, and enterprise search is evolving in the face of technological innovations. One might be compelled to believe differently if reading CMS Wire’s article “Contextualized Computing and the Death of Traditional Enterprise Search”, but alas it will be a simple case of misdiagnosis.

The enterprise will be undergoing some new treatments of sorts, one of which is comparable to Social therapy:

“Search is not a separate technology or program; it must integrate with business processes and corporate initiatives as vital infrastructure. Search for all employees aligns with communication, connectedness and collaboration — bringing us into Social constructs. Social can serve to fine-tune or filter search by leveraging additional information about the Searcher, as a valuable enhancement. This includes tapping into employee profiles, internal networks and other work-related interactions to return relevant data. Social interactions also enable valuable “serendipitous or accidental acquisition of information or knowledge.”

The death of search will come when humanity rejects all technology and returns to the caves but that doesn’t seem realistic considering today’s thriving market. Instead, some enterprise search software is getting smarter, becoming more adaptable and ultimate will  increase efficiency.  Intrafind has been offering enterprise search solutions for over a decade and providing secure, enterprise wide access to relevant information quickly and efficiently while implementing targeted data towards the directed task at hand. Enterprise search is alive, well and best of all… adaptable.

Jennifer Shockley, October 31, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

PolySpot Asserts Impressive and Innovative Tools into the Big Data Mix

October 31, 2012

Big data is only as big and exciting as the business intelligence platforms available to transform raw data bits into enriched insights. GigaOM reported on a new player in this field in the article,”Platfora Shows a Whole New Way to do Business Intelligence on Big Data.” Show, not tell, is definitely applicable to Platfora. Data is presented visually in graphs to data scientists and analysts.

Platfora uses Hadoop as a scalable data store from which users can grab data sets and choose which variables are shown and how different data sets relate to each other. Platfora has named this data-management process building a “lens.”

The article discusses thoughts from Platfora Founder and CEO Ben Werther:

Essentially, Werther said, Platfora has turned Hadoop into a sub-second interactive engine that operates much faster than any Hadoop-to-data-warehouse connector or Hive-based approach could ever hope to do. (Hive is the SQL-like query language developed for Hadoop that companies such as Facebook use to turn Hadoop into a data warehouse for unstructured data.) ‘At the point where you can synthesize on the fly,’ he said, ‘[legacy BI tools] start to look like relics of another age.’

Data visualization is certainly an exciting piece in the puzzle, but it is by no means a new way to perform business intelligence. We have seen far more impressive and innovative tools with mobile capabilities to store and analyze large volumes of structured and unstructured data from companies like PolySpot.

Megan Feil, October 31, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Using SharePoint to Streamline Common Business Processes

October 31, 2012

SharePoint is a complex system and it helps to do some outside reading to stay abreast on helpful features and tips to share with your team. Ellen van Aken looks at some ways SharePoint can help save time and effort in an organization in her article, “4 Common Processes that SharePoint Can Streamline.” Aken explains that creating a tailor-made subsite and making a template out of it can allow for creating a ready-to-use team site for every project in no time. This could help make recurring projects more efficient.

She also explains streamlining requests with incomplete data coming from multiple channels:

How often do people send you a request, by plain email, telephone, or Word/Excel document? And how often do you have to contact them again to ask for missing information?

Depending on the complexity, you can use a simple SharePoint list, an Office template in a Document Library, or an InfoPath form in a Forms Library, with mandatory fields. As additional advantage SharePoint stores all your requests in one central place, so you do not have to spend time on filing them…The finished requests can be used to gain insights in your process.

She adds that a filter can be put in place to show which requests still need processing. Another way to streamline information requests with missing data is to provide a search feature that can tap into all company knowledge, whether text or person related. For example, Fabasoft Mindbreeze with the SharePoint connector provides an all-inclusive search without redundancy or loss of data. Additionally, Mindbreeze has the ability to process data and turn it into relevant knowledge for users.

Philip West, October 31, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext.

Google Gets More Predictive

October 30, 2012

I heard the cheerleading over the news broadcasts about the terrible storm. I urge you to read “Google Now: Behind the Predictive Future of Search.” But the “real” story from the “real” journalist is the subtitle: “How Google Learned to Un Fragment Itself and Create the Next Big Thing.” Faint praise. No. Bold assertions about the “un fragmented Google.”

The guts of the story pivot on Google’s new service Google Now. The idea is that “now” information is what defines the modern mobile user. I use my mobile as a phone and to check email. Therefore, I struggle with the “predictive future” thing.

The idea is that

… your phone is more “Personal Assistant” than “Bar bet settler.” The difference is that the former actually understands what you need while the latter is a blunt search instrument.

Universal appeal is assumed. The secret ingredient for the predictive search magic is Android 4.2.

Here’s the write up’s digest of the “big thing”:

It’s essentially an app that combines two important functions: voice search and “cards” that bubble up relevant information on a contextual basis. Actually, Google Now technically only refers to the ambient information part of the equation, a branding kerfuffle that distinguishes it from Apple’s Siri product yet still causes confusion. Those cards might contain local restaurants, the traffic on your commute home, or when your flight is about to take off. They appear automatically as Google tries to guess the information you’ll need at any given moment. While it seems like a relatively simple service, it’s only really possible because of the massive amount of computational power Google can leverage alongside the massive amount of data Google knows about you thanks to your searches.

The predictive search functionality has been part of Google Web search since August 2012. The key point is:

These new cards are actually similar to a feature that Google added to its web search results this past August, both in content and in style. That’s probably not an accident — if you assume Google has already won the battle for search, the next battle is giving you information before you even search for it. When it comes to deciding which data to give you, Barra tells us that Google has “a pipeline […], possibly in the hundreds of cards” from its many engineering teams. Rather than flood users with all of those new cards, Google is taking a slow and steady approach to adding those new features — if only because right now it can only add those cards with a software update.

The numerical recipes behind the Now service include neural networks (what I call smart software) and knowledge graphs (entity relationships). Both of these methods have been in development and use for years. Google itself owns a chunk of a company which has quite sophisticated predictive technology. There is more to come from Google, including hot visualizations and improved voice interaction with mobile devices.

If you want to see a write up that puts the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders to shame, check out this story. Like the cheerleaders, there will be changes in the line up with each update cycle. For now, the magic is in the eye of the True Believer.

I just make voice calls and check email.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2012

Content Distribution is Only Part of the Enterprise Puzzle

October 30, 2012

One cannot argue the importance of content delivery, but it is only one portion of the enterprise as a whole. Companies focused primarily on video delivery may end up a few pieces short of the complete enterprise puzzle, but according to Information Week’s article “Kontiki: A New Approach To Enterprise Content Delivery” Kontiki thinks video is the answer.

As a startup venture, Kontiki’s CEO is hoping to make an impact on the future of enterprise content distribution:

“Kontiki has been quietly garnering the enterprise video distribution business of companies like GM, Nestle, Coca Cola, and Wells Fargo, to name just a few. The company’s secret sauce is compelling IT shops to consider an approach that obviates the need for expensive WAN acceleration hardware. (The system takes video into a remote branch one time and distributes it peer-to-peer throughout the network.) Think of it as enterprise content delivery–like a CDN, but it moves content inside the firewall.”

Kontiki holds some very lucrative video management contracts but successful businesses look for complete enterprise solutions.  A sizeable portion of the enterprise actually lies in the searching, seizing and sorting of both structured and unstructured data. Since enterprise content distribution is a final process, Kontiki’s clients have a powerful distribution platform but may need to utilize additional system in order to acquire usable data and make everything click together. An enterprise seeking a secure search application that locates and delegates targeted content to the right users at the most relevant times will find that Intrafind  offers a solution that can complete the enterprise puzzle.

Jennifer Shockley, October 30, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Insights Drawn from Big Data Scientists Start with PolySpot Information Delivery

October 30, 2012

Big data solutions are not just for early adopter, high-tech companies anymore. The latest New York Times article, “Big Data in More Hands” offers up some names of new solutions that might appeal to mainstream companies and corporations. Many of these are based on open source databases such as Hadoop.

Both Oracle and Microsoft, for example, uses Cloudera. Based on Hadoop, this solution runs queries from a more mainstream SQL programming language interface.

Mike Olson, the chief executive of Cloudera, is quoted in the article stating that Hadoop was seen as too complex:

There is a reason for that. Hadoop is one of several so-called unstructured databases that were created at Yahoo and Google, after those two companies found they had previously unimaginable amounts of data about activities like people’s Web-surfing habits. Put into databases designed to handle this unstructured behavior, then analyzed, this information was valuable for figuring out things like what advertisement to put in front of each individual Web surfer.

This quote from the article reaches into the heart of the significance of big data. Insights can be pulled from a host of different types of data run together under analytics and seen with the fresh eyes of a data scientist. The key then becomes ensuring a proper information management system is in place, such as PolySpot, to allow information to be delivered to all employees necessary within a company.

Megan Feil, October 30, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Finding a Cost Effective Solution for Search Marketing

October 30, 2012

In the Marketing Week post, “The Digital Path to Purchase,” Michael Barnett discusses budgetary considerations companies should keep in mind as mobile and social media trends continue to dominate search strategies and search technology developments. Barnett explains that marketers are continuing to see the importance of understanding the wide variety of journeys that consumers take toward making a purchase. The integration of search and social is discussed:

One marketing manager from a professional services company says in answer to the survey: ‘The continued integration of search and social has to have an effect. Which social networks have the greatest influence remains to be seen. I think it will depend on their willingness to co-operate with each other, or more specifically with Google and Microsoft – but mainly Google.’ At present, content shared on social networks probably does not rank as highly as it naturally would in search results, since some search engines are restricted from crawling certain social sites.

In the same survey, three quarters of respondents claimed their search budgets they work with have increased in the past year. However, only 21 percent say search marketing is very effective. One industry leader in search is Fabasoft Mindbreeze. If you are looking for an integrated social and search solution to boost marketing efforts, consider taking advantage of the no obligation free trial InSite demo to test the enhanced finding experience for your Web site. InSite illuminates all of your information, from documents and emails to social networking channels.

Philip West, October 30, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext.

InMagic Makes Welcome Customer Pledge

October 30, 2012

InMagic has taken a step forward with a recent promise to its customers. On the company’s blog, General Manager and CTO Phil Green posts, “Back to the Future: a Pledge to Keep our Customers Self-Sufficient.” This vow to boost ease-of-use is an attitude we like to see.

One of InMagic’s primary commitments, says Green, has always been to provide software that can be easily used and customized by even the non-technical among us. As the Web grew in scale and complexity, however, that goal became more of a challenge for the company’s DB/TextWorks WebPublisher solution. Clients using that software to build and maintain their Web sites have often found it difficult to modify their sites without the help of a skilled Web developer.

InMagic now has the solution. Green recalls a client who urgently needed two things for their custom DB/Text WebPublisher-based website. First, they wanted the ability to make changes to their site without tapping an expensive consultant. The customer also wanted to stick with InMagic’s DB/TextWorks to build and maintain their database. Green writes:

“We were thrilled to be able to offer our new solution, Presto for DB/Text. The DB/TextWorks connector in Presto for DB/Text enables the client to build and maintain their textbase in DB/TextWorks while publishing the content in Presto. And the connector easily accommodates their textbase of more than 100,000 records. In addition, the Presto configuration layer enables the client to easily make changes to the website without technical support. In fact, the client is so comfortable with the product that they’re handling the majority of development of their new website themselves, with only limited configuration and building help from us.”

Green goes on to mention another client, one who successfully used Presto to rebuild their intranet site and to integrate with SharePoint. Specialized InMagic Web parts installed into SharePoint made Presto content available in the customer’s new SharePoint-based intranet.

Formed almost thirty years ago, InMagic is located in Woburn, MA . The company builds information management tools that, they say, are known for low cost of ownership, flexibility, ease-of-use, and rapid deployment. Some prominent customers include NASA, the esteemed Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and corporate powerhouse Owens Corning.

Cynthia Murrell, October 30, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Arnold Google Column Moved to Citizentekk

October 29, 2012

My Google column was the idea of KMWorld, an Information Today publication. After a year and a half, Hugh McKellar suggested I shift to a broader palette of enterprise semantic topics. About a year and a half ago, I had a conversation with a manager at IMI Publishing in London. Since my heart attack, I have submitted columns and then had to endure long delays in the editorial and administrative processed. I have now moved my Google column to Beth Kindig, who has started an electronic publication http://www.citizentekk.com/. Starting in November 2012, you will find my Google column at this new Web address. I am in the process of revisiting the entire series of Google columns, updating some of the information, and adding new interpretations of Google’s enterprise activities. I am working with Ms. Kindig to make available a free copy of my monograph The New Landscape of Enterprise Search for her readers who want to receive my limited distribution newsletter Honk. Honk is explained at this link. I will run a short item about getting the free monograph from her site once I have that information.

Stephen E Arnold, October 29, 2012

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