Coveo Enterprise Search: A Pivot and a Double Flip from a 15 Year Old Startup

June 4, 2020

DarkCyber noted this story in a New Zealand online information service: “Xero Partners with Coveo to Empower Small Businesses with Machine Learning.” The write states:

Xero has partnered with Coveo to empower small businesses with new functionality on its app marketplace search, powered by machine learning.

Before taking a look at the direct quotes in the article, DarkCyber needs to answer two questions.

First, what’s Coveo? According to the firm’s Web site, the company:

Provide effortless tailored journeys with the Coveo Experience Intelligence Platform. Imagine the experiences you could deliver by embracing the cloud, data, and AI today.

Got that? Coveo was profiled in the first three editions of the Enterprise Search Report as a vendor of Microsoft-centric search and retrieval. Over the years, the company has evolved or at least changed. The firm offered its search system as a customer support component and now it has evolved into providing “tailored journeys”. Let’s call this enterprise search.

Second, what’s Xero? The company’s Web site explains:

Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services. Xero provides business owners with real-time visibility of their financial position and performance in a way that’s simple, smart and secure. For accountants, Xero forges a trusted relationship with clients through online collaboration and gives accountants the opportunity to extend their services.

Okay, the company wants to offer an online “store” to sell licenses to companies looking for accounting software.

Now back to the write up. The article quotes an executive at Coveo as saying:

Coveo CEO and chairman Louis Tetu says, “Creating intelligent experiences like Xeros [sic] app marketplace and Xero Central are critical to compete in today’s experience economy. Digital leaders run on data and AI to create the relevant, unified experiences their customers expect – while adding real business value. Few companies understand that better than Xero. Whether a small business is looking to move sales online, coordinate staff or manage projects, Xero’s app marketplace features an array of third-party apps to help with their unique industry and business administration challenges.”

DarkCyber thinks that this means that Coveo will provide product search for Xero’s online store. It is easy to be mystified by words like “intelligence experiences,” “experience economy”, and AI (artificial intelligence). Yeah, jargon is one way to get around the fact that Coveo is providing search and retrieval. (SLI Systems — New Zealand eCommerce search system — is probably surprised by the lingo as well.)

How does Xero explain search? One of Xero’s managers says:

“We’ve seen a 50% increase in people searching for cash flow apps from February to April this year, so we know making it easy to access the right technology is more important than ever…. Tapping into smart insights through machine learning, not only improves the journey for time-poor small businesses, but enables us to consistently evolve our offering to provide beautiful experiences for our customers.

Okay, jargon like “machine learning,” “time poor”, and “beautiful experiences” seems to be a bit of frosting on a donut.

The Canadian company has licensed its search system to a New Zealand accounting centric company to provide search and retrieval for about 800 products.

Interesting. DarkCyber assumes that the inclusion of the buzzwords and jargon is an attempt to make a fairly straightforward ecommerce service into something with a bit more zing. Did it work? You decide because eCommerce search features established options like Elasticsearch and new solutions from vendors like Luigis Box. Coveo was founded in 2005 as a spin off from Copernic desktop search. Luigis Box, on the other hand, was founded in 2017.

Stephen E Arnold, June 4, 2020

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