Searching a Priority? Also a Source of Fascinating Confusion?

February 18, 2013

The headline of a news release from Concept Searching caught my eye: Survey Results Indicate Enterprise Search is still the Number One Priority.

The subtitle puts the data in what I call the “marketing context.” Here is is:

Recent Concept Searching Survey Finds CIOs are Still Struggling with Search

The basic findings are revealed in this paragraph:

With the explosion of unstructured content, enterprise search has become inadequate for the knowledge worker but also renders relevant content inaccessible when applying it to collaboration and text analytics. Organizations are recognizing that search is not a stand-alone technology or application, but must be integrated with business processes and corporate objectives as a key infrastructure component. Regardless of the enterprise search solution, the delivery of meaningful results depends on the ability to effectively index and classify content, and to develop taxonomies to better manage the content. With the unabated growth of unstructured content and the introduction of diverse environments, such as on-premise, cloud, or hybrid, the need to access relevant information is falling far behind organizational needs. Content can exist in multiple repositories, and if not effectively managed increases organizational risk.

The sponsor of the study is Concept Searching, and a “white paper” providing more information is available from the company at

Several observations:

  1. Search is a nebulous term. Many vendors are using the nomenclature of customer support, data analytics, eDiscovery, and Big Data. The reason, based on what little I know, is that search is not a hot term in some circles. See, for instance, the “comScore Releases the 2013 Digital Future in Focus Report.” The message there is that the digital landscape is rich and varies, in flux, and moving in unexpected directions.
  2. Open source plays are picking up steam. Based on my recent interview with Miles Kehoe and a forthcoming interview with Mark Bennett, both at LucidWorks, organizations are embracing open source solutions for a number of reasons. Could this be good news for open source solutions and less good news for vendors of walled garden systems which support “standards”? With the wave of consolidations and the HP Autonomy dust up, has cold water been tossed on the raging fires of information retrieval?
  3. Good, bad, or indifferent, Google has become the touchstone for many people when the word “search” is used. I saw a discussion on the LinkedIn search forum which presented the idea that appliances are back in vogue, specifically, the Google appliance. Simplicity may be gaining traction in markets confused or under cost pressure. Do licensees want complexity, multiple moving parts, and highly refined components or a solution that works?
  4. Companies in data management like MarkLogic are going back to their roots in publishing because the search push has not resulted in the revenue windfall some anticipated. Have the hopes for big paydays via enterprise search shifted to paydays for services firms and consultants?

Search, it seems, remains fascinating and confusing. Thank goodness I am old and content with my paper files and steam powered computer.

Stephen E Arnold, February 18, 2013


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