A Business Case for Search in the Time of Covid and the SolarWinds Misstep

February 8, 2021

Why does one working in an organization have to make a case for enterprise search? Oh, right, I forgot. Enterprise search has a rich history: Fast Search & Transfer with jail time for the founder, Autonomy with a sentencing date looming for the founder, Entopia with financial pain for its investors, and, well, the list of issues with enterprise search can be extended with references to IBM OmniSphere or STAIRS III, Delphes, Siderean, Arikus, Attensity, Brainware, Eegi, Relegence, Hakia, and the memorable Zaizi, among others.

Making the Business Case for Enterprise Search” is sponsored. That means it is an advertisement, marketing collateral, and hoo hah. But what is its message. I noted this passage:

Knowledge-centric organizations know that tools such as intelligent search are critical for cutting through the noise and making relevant information discoverable. However, many executives don’t prioritize these types of tools.

Yep, and there is a reason. Consider that Elasticsearch is open source. Amazon offers search and is educating the enthusiastic for free. Put these successes against the backdrop of Google’s high profile failure: The GSA or Google Search Appliance, a fine product according to some Google engineers.

Regardless of today, large organizations typically have multiple information retrieval systems. The idea of federating the information is a really good one until the bean counters realize that the staff, professional for fee services, and the time required to figure out access controls, file formats, and how to cope with versions, rich media, trade secrets in engineering drawings and chemical formulas, and index latency cost more money than anyone revealed in a marketing pitch.

The write up notes:

In a recent survey, nearly half of all respondents said it was challenging finding the right information when they needed it.

One question: What’s right? The problem with enterprise search is that it is a fake discipline trying to gain traction in a world of business intelligence, analytics, and real time data capture, analysis, and outputs.

I laughed at the reminder “Don’t neglect security.” This is the era of the SolarWinds’ misstep. Security is underfunded in most organizations. Do responsible Boards of Directors and senior executives need to be reminded that their security systems is now Job Number One.

Enterprise search? Yeah, a hot enterprise solution. Just a solution which has become a utility and a free one via open source software at that.

Stephen E Arnold, February 8, 2021


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