October 31, 2013
I spoke with a colleague after my webinar about Google’s “bulletproof vest.” After some small talk about the difficulty some folks having getting actionable information from online services, my colleague asked, “Have you seen ‘Forrester Is Failing Marketers with BS Data about Facebook’”?
After the call I located the article which appeared in Business Insider. I am not sure who owns Business Insider and I don’t know anything about the author of the write up. What was clear to me is that a mid tier consulting firm sure annoyed at least one person.
How did the annoyance surface?
The cause, it seems, was a report by the upscale Forrester consultancy. The write up works through some snippets and methodological observations. The main point of the write up, in my opinion, was:
The Forrester analyst who produced this appeared to have an axe to grind long before they ever got the “data” quoted in this report. The report says: “A handful of notable brands have drawn first blood, announcing they’re leaving Facebook entirely.” The analyst’s endnotes cite only one company, namely General Motors, who (a) did NOT say in May 2012 they were leaving entirely but were just stopping Facebook paid media, and (b) over six months ago said they were also returning to buy Facebook ads once more.
I don’t pay much attention to Facebook. I pay even less attention to the antics of the mid tier consulting companies. What I do pay attention to includes:
- The difficulty I have in figuring out what data are accurate and what data are public relations
- The motivation for certain somewhat snappy analyses. I am not sure if it is a brilliant insight, a desire to outwit Google’s pandas and penguins, or a signal that someone hired a person who just misunderstands certain business facts, events, or models.
- The foam whip up following a flashy report. Folks appear to care a great deal about Facebook, its revenue, and its importance in the advertising world. I suppose my surprise is a result of my living in rural Kentucky, far from the hip hop of Madison Avenue.
Take a look at the write up in Business Insider. Chase down a copy of the Forrester report. Look at Facebook’s financials in today’s frothy investment pool.
I have a simple question. Why do I have to use www.seekky.com to locate information in non English social media. Perhaps the experts should focus on systems that make it easy to use these Facebook-type services? Just a thought. I am delighted the “BS” does not refer to Beyond Search.
Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2013
July 29, 2013
I saw “Global Enterprise Search Market to 2016: Latest Industry Analysis, Strategies, Survey, Size, Share, Growth Trends, and Forecast Research Report Available at Research Moz.” The news release explains that Research Moz has completed a study of the enterprise search market, making an effort to cover every possible angle. The report, unlike other analyses, purposes to cover the Middle East and what I used to think of as the Pacific Rim.
I navigated to Research Moz and learned that the report is 58 pages in length. The most fascinating item in the news release, in my view, was:
Global Enterprise Search market to grow at a CAGR of 12.98 percent over the period 2012-2016.
If the robust growth rate is accurate, the search and content processing firms working hard to cover their payroll can look forward to a brighter future. The information available to me suggests that search is fracturing, making growth estimates difficult. The fastest growing sectors like military intelligence are less than forthcoming about the size of the contracts awarded by various nation states. In addition, the sharp uptake of open source search solutions continues to have an impact of some commercial vendors. Companies which sell services to support information retrieval are, in my view, consulting and engineering firms, not vendors of search solutions.
Research Moz also offers reports on other global markets; for example, pet food.
More information is available at http://www.researchmoz.us/global-enterprise-search-market-2012-2016-report.html. Pricing information was not available.
Stephen E Arnold, July 29, 2013
Sponsored by Xenky
July 4, 2013
I am not a journalist. My academic training is in medieval poetry in Latin. I was lucky to get out of high school, college, and a couple of graduate programs. Few people embraced my interest in indexing medieval Latin manuscripts. Among those who made the most fun of my interests were those in journalism school, electrical engineers, and people studying to be middle school teachers.
In graduate school, the mathematics majors found my work interesting and offered grudging respect because one of my relatives was Vladimir Ivanovich Arnold, a co-worker with that so-so math guy, the long distance hiker Andrey Kolmogorov.
I have, therefore, some deep seated skepticism about “real” journalists, folks who carry around soldering irons, and the aforementioned middle school teachers.
Last week I received a semi-snarky email about one of my articles. The person writing me shall remain nameless. I have assembled some thoughts designed to address his question, “Why did you not mention [company A] and [company B] in your article about desktop search. I think this was a for fee column which appeared in KMWorld, but I can’t be sure. My team and I produce a number of “articles” every day, and I am not a librarian, another group granted an exemption from my anti journalist, anti EE, and anti middle school stance.
Let me highlight the points which are important to me. I understand that you, gentle reader, probably do not have much interest. But this is my blog and I am not a journalist.
First, each of my for fee columns which run in four different publications focus on something “sort of” connected to search, online, analytics, knowledge management (whatever that means), and the even more indefinable content processing. I write about topics which my team suggests might be interesting to people younger and smarter than I. In short, PR people stay away. I pay professionals to identify topics for me. I don’t need help from you. I don’t need the PR attitude which I call “PRantronizing.” Is this clear enough? Do not spam me with crazy “news” releases. Do not call me and pretend we are pals. When a call came in yesterday, I was in a meeting with a law librarian. I put the call on the speaker phone and told the caller to know whom she buzzes before she pretends we are pals. The PRatronizer was annoyed. The law librarian said, “None of us on your team are that friendly to you. Heck, I don’t think you are my friend after four years of daily work.” My reaction, “That’s why you are sitting here with me and the PRatronizer is dealing with a firm, ‘Get lost.’”
May 1, 2013
It’s spring in Harrods Creek. The Kentucky Derby marks the beginning of a frenzy of gambling, partying, and social climbing. Spring is also brightened this year by a new report from a big daddy consulting firm. I hesitate to say “azure chip consultant” because so many big time consulting firms have run into a muddy track. Most consulting firms are moving to known methods of boosting revenue. One thing is certain: The marketing horse race is underway. Unlike the Kentucky Derby where the entrants are pretty similar, the horses in the search, content processing, and analytics race are marvelous hybrids. Even though the same words are used to describe some functions, most companies are shaped by their marketing, not their technologies. I think of vendors as having the same bloodline with only the jockeys and their silks differentiating the companies. I suppose that is why there are groupings which are confusing, at least to me.
The particular pair of news announcements in question illustrate this point:
- Attivio, “a visionary”. See http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releases/attivio-named-a-visionary-in-2013-gartner-magic-quadrant-for-enterprise-search-205246031.html
- Coveo, “a visionary”. See http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/coveo-recognized-as-a-visionary-in-gartner-2013-magic-quadrant-for-enterprise-search-1784721.htm
A number of other companies are sporting labels awarded by a big daddy consulting firm. I have not seen the “study”, which I hope is based on fact, not marketing. Frankly I am not sure if I understand how big daddy consulting firms conduct their business today in an Adwords world.
Do two firms with the same metatag suggests the type of hybridization of functionality I see?
I find this fascinating because it suggests a similarity between the firms. The firms’ respective Web pages position each company in a different manner: Attivio seems more closely allied to business intelligence via unified information access and Coveo seems more focused on point solutions such as customer support. I probably cannot see the track through the spectators. No surprise there. I am far, far from the burning center of big time consulting here in rural Harrods Creek.
I do know that both Attivio and Coveo and have ingested significant venture funding in the last 12 months. (See “Swinging for the Fences and Search.”) Not surprisingly, various promotional and marketing actioins are warranted, if not essential.
Executives at these firms need to differentiate themselves with new companies entering certain market sectors and capturing headlines. Firms in search, content processing, and analytics have to come up with buzz like upstarts who garner headlines in the influential Techcrunch. (See, for example, “Docurated Is An Enterprise Service To Search And Collect The Data You Need From Your Files.”)
Also firms which have been in business a while are interesting because the point at which organic growth kicks is and carries the companies to Endeca-type heights is a signal of the health of the search and content processing sector. What’s interesting to me is that Hewlett Packard has not been emphasizing “search” as a marketing hook for its high profile Autonomy operation.
I will monitor public news releases about companies which sport a very compelling metatag. I don’t think I will be alone in tracking the actions of these and other search “visionaries” which share a very upbeat metatag. Investors and stakeholders will be monitoring the firms as well. I hope I have contributed to the buzz as pesky outfits like SRCH2 and Docurated gallop through the datasphere.
Stephen E Arnold, May 1, 2013
April 3, 2013
The draft story “Big Claims of Analytics Progress” written by Cynthia Murrell was inadvertently published. The write up took the angle that Ventana’s research raised some questions. The wrongly published draft ran on March 29, 2013, was inadvertently posted by me. After doing some checking into this unfortunate matter, I learned that indeed I hit the incorrect button in the WordPress interface.
As a result, a draft story ran as a “ready for publication” story. I certainly do not and did not want to question the professionalism of Ventana and its consulting team.
The article in question was deleted in a routine check of posted write ups, but the links to the story are in various indexes. You may have seen a reference to the story at this link: http://news.silobreaker.com/big-claims-of-analytics-progress-5_2266711671936385024
When I checked a few moments (8 30 am Eastern) ago, the Silobreaker story was reported “not found.” There was another link to the story at http://www.i4u.com/2013/03/facebook/progress-analytics-big-claims and the story points to another 404 page.
My experience is that when a Beyond Search link goes dark, some indexes drop the link to the source.
So, I am sorry I hit the wrong button, sending a story to the publication queue and not to the “draft” queue for further revision. I apologized yesterday in this story http://arnoldit.com/wordpress/2013/04/02/ventana-benchmark-research-a-mistake-and-a-correction/ and I have been asked to make clear that I made the error myself.
To be crystal clear, I am sorry that I made the mistake.
If anyone reading Beyond Search wishes to comment or offer additional inputs, please, use the Comments section of the blog.
Stephen E Arnold, April 3, 2013
Sponsored by Augmentext.com
April 2, 2013
Inadvertently by me or as a result of the same clever teens who hacked our Twitter account, a story about Ventana Research appeared which was not edited for actual release. To set the record straight, I want to quote from the Ventana news release and apologize for this unfortunate error. The item which caught our attention focused on research conducted by Ventana.
You will want to check out “Ventana Research Commences New Benchmark Research on Information Optimization.” Here’s the core of the announcement:
Ventana Research announced today that the firm is set to begin their latest Benchmark Research on Information Optimization. The firm has embarked on this benchmark research to evaluate how technology is used to support better access and utilization of information in business and IT. Information optimization is also a key driver and benefit of the use of big data technology. Information powers today’s businesses, and previous research conducted by Ventana Research indicates that organizations are aware of the challenges associated with accessing and assembling information so that it is useful and relevant. This new research on Information optimization, the latest from the leading business technology research firm, will analyze how organizations collect data, in what forms they collect it, how it is assemble and integrated and how it is best used. The research is designed to provide the building blocks for a foundation for optimizing the use and integration of information, enabling Ventana Research to provide guidance on efficiently and effectively using technology to deliver the right information to business and IT when and how it is needed. This research will also examine organizations’ people, process, information and technology competencies, maturity, trends and best practices in how they make information available to those who need it. The research aims to provide significant new insights into attitudes toward information optimization and the processes they enable. It will help provide information on best practices and practical methods to build a business case for investment. The research will also investigate the most critical information sources and how organizations provide access that critical information to decision makers in the form and cycles they need it.
For more information about Ventana, navigate to http://www.ventanaresearch.com/.
Sorry for the confusion caused by either an error made by me, one of my team, or the folks who seem to find Beyond Search worthy of spoofing. If you have a comment, feel free to use the Comments section of the blog.
Stephen E Arnold, April 2, 2013
Sponsored by Augmentext
March 11, 2013
The Autonomy and HP feud can step aside for the rift that is growing between Oracle and Forrester. Forrester claimed that Oracle has taken a step in strategic development with the release of its Fusion Applications. Readwrite reports on the argument in “Who’s Right In The Oracle-Forrester Slugfest?” Many of Oracle’s clients do not want to switch to the new applications. In response, Oracle issues a three-page report that stated Forrester did not talk to all of its clients, only a random smattering. Forrester said it contacted 180 clients and the back and forth continues. Forrester found that 65% of Oracle’s clients would remain with the older applications and it makes sense that clients would remain with applications they are familiar.
“Forrester also said that customers staying with the older applications were missing out on innovation. Again Oracle cried foul, saying that at Oracle OpenWorld last year, the company discussed future releases for E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft, as well as roadmaps for all its applications. Examples of innovation include iPad certification in PeopleSoft and new mobile capabilities in Siebel, Oracle said.”
Forrester is sticking to its guns and stands by its opinions. It sounds more like a squabble between children than professional businesses. The consultants are picking fights in the sandbox and mixing up the rules of the playground.
Whitney Grace, March 11, 2013
February 11, 2013
Search Technologies introduced “Solr Lucene Relevancy Tuning.” Search Technologies will supply services to improve the relevancy of results within an existing Solr/Lucene implementation. If the service works as advertised, this could be a boon to many organizations awash with extraneous data. The announcement explains:
This engagement will provide powerful relevancy ranking improvements in an existing Solr installation. This includes setting up a basic system for relevancy evaluation, based on a set of sample queries, so that improvements can be quantitatively measured. Additions to the default relevancy formula in Solr Lucene can dramatically improve search results, solving many of the most thorny relevancy problems including:
- Reducing the impact of peripheral content (sidebars, ads, tangential discussions, etc.)
- Automatically handling word phrases in a flexible manner, reducing the need to use complex query constructions to obtain good search results.”
The Search Technologies’ solution changes the default Solr/Lucene functionality, which can overemphasize document size and term frequency. Search Technologies’ new Parameterized Document Similarity Function provides more control over these formulas through configurable parameters. The company’s Gradient Proximity Boost operator eliminates the need to tweak Solr/Lucene’s default “hard window,” the term-proximity parameters which can trigger a document boost. The method does this by measuring the density and completeness of terms across each document, gradually boosting documents in which terms cluster.
The post identifies the expected engagement tasks and deliverables associated with this software. The only pre-requisite listed is the presence of a working Solr /Lucene system with already-indexed documents. The firm promises ongoing maintenance and support services, including an optional round-the-clock support package.
Founded in 2005, Search Technologies bills themselves as the largest (independent) IT services company dedicated to search-engine implementation, consulting, and managed services. Staffed with veterans of the search field, the company prides itself on innovation. Search Technologies is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, and maintains two other U.S. offices as well as locations in Berkshire, U.K., and San Jose, Costa Rica.
Ken Toth, February 11, 2013
January 27, 2013
I don’t know zip about public relations. First, I don’t do much “public” work. The connotation of “relations” remains mildly distasteful to me. I suppose that is a consequence of a high school English teacher who did not permit certain words to be used in class. If a student were to encounter a word on the banned list, he or she had to skip it when reading aloud. The notion of “public relations” gives me the willies.
You can check out the best in PR and real journalism in the scary “Microsoft: Google Blames Us for All Its Problems.” I thought I was jaded with corporate slickness. One is never too old to learn how the big guys handle communications.
I had a client ask me about a company which could post messages to LinkedIn and other social media. I motioned that the work was getting difficult. For example, Instagram wants a person who posts a picture to register with a government issued ID card. Now that is interesting because I use a passport for identification, and I am not too keen on having that information in the hands of a 20 something engineer working from a drafty apartment in a country to which the data processing has been outsourced. Also, LinkedIn has a number of groups which are managed by those who start the groups. LinkedIn wants anyone who found the group interesting to participate or the “member” is kicked out of the group. Some groups are lax about advertising. Other groups are not. LinkedIn has turned into a job hunting and marketing service, so its utility to me has declined. I find the “expert” commentary sent to me by LinkedIn employees annoying tool. Facebook is a wild and crazy place. I am not sure how the new Facebook search will work when a person posting can be linked to “interesting” topics and “friends.” The Google Plus thing is mandatory with each post linked to a “real” person. Maybe Google will just issue official ID cards and skip the government angle. Google’s mission to North Korea was fascinating, and I hope no one draws a connection between the Google visit and the increasingly hostile rhetoric from that country toward the United States.
So what about public relations.
I did a quick check online and found that a consulting and publishing company called O’Dwyer Company, Inc. publishes a list of the PR firms ranked by revenue. After all, what could be more important than revenue in today’s economic climate. (Do I hear a tiny voice saying, “Quality and integrity”? No, not here in Harrod’s Creek.
The list exists in a couple of different forms. The dates covered by the list are not clear to me. But the PR league table I reviewed contained 118 firms. Of these 118, the total revenue reported by O’Dwyer was $1,776,859,523, slightly more than the revenues for the enterprise search market which I wrote about here. The top 10 firms generated $1,120,706,215 or 63 percent of the total revenue in the O’Dwyer report. What’s interesting is that this concentration of money is similar to the concentration of revenues in enterprise search prior to the consolidation craze which peaked in 2012. Once a search vendor is absorbed into a giant new owner like Microsoft or Oracle, the revenues from search related deals disappears into the accounting miasma. Become too open about enterprise search revenues and an Autonomy type of situation may unfold.
What I found interesting was that of the top ten firms, two were flat with no significant increase in revenue and one new entrant was able to pump out $21 million quickly. Whoa, Nelly.
Another point I found interesting is that I recognized the “name” of these firms of the 118:
- Edelman, not sure why
- Waggener Ekstrom, the Microsoft PR outfit
- Ruder Finn, not sure why.
- PR seems to be a low profile business. I am confident that the big dogs know how to market, but I am quite certain that most of the firms do not build a “brand” nor do they play a role in my world as “thought leaders.” I presume the reason is that the PR firms are so focused on their clients that any visibility for the PR firm would be a big no no.
- The revenues for PR are almost identical to those reported for enterprise search by Forrester. Does this mean that PR is a better business from a revenue point of view that search or content processing. Presumably the search vendors hire PR firms so the cash available for search marketing helps pump up the PR revenues. Interesting, particularly at a time when it is difficult to track sales to PR. (After all, if PR worked, wouldn’t the firms showing flat and declining revenue use their own tools to get those sales going?)
- PR, like enterprise search, generates one of those nifty long tale graphs which are so popular in today’s learned discussions about “concentration,” “oligopolies,” and “market forces.”
I told the client to take the O’Dwyer list and pick a firm close to home. The challenge is that the biggest firms are in the big cities; for example, Manhattan boasts 31 firms on the list, more if I include New Jersey and Connecticut. A quick check of Louisville, Kentucky’s PR density revealed 18 firms. More were listed if I tossed in marketing communications, social media, and similarly nebulous terms. PR advisors are as plentiful as consultants it seems. The swelling ranks of the unemployed creates a fertile ground for advisors, wizards, mavens, and poobahs in search, business consulting, and public relations.
My big finding is that the vast majority of public relations firms are likely to be struggling to generate revenue. What’s new in today’s economy? Is PR a discipline? Don’t know. Don’t care. I do know I tell those who write me PR spam that I am not a journalist. I get pretty frisky when people ignore my about page and assume I am, at age 69, a real journalist. Heaven forbid that I should be confused with a real journalist, a PR person, or an effective marketer. I am none of those things. Never will be.
Stephen E Arnold, January 26, 2013
January 25, 2013
I used to enjoy the search market size estimates of IDC (the time it takes to find info group), Gartner (the magic quad folks), Forrester (yep, the “wave” people), and Ovum (we do it all experts), among others.
I read “Growth of Big Data in Businesses Intensifies Global Demand for Enterprise Search Solutions, Finds Frost & Sullivan” and found several items of interest in the brief news story which arrived via Germany. Is Germany a leader in enterprise search? I heard that 99 percent of Germany’s search means Google. The numerous open source players are not setting the non-German world on fire, but I could be wrong. Check out GoPubMed, for example, of an interesting system which has a modest profile.
Now to the size of the search market.
The first thing I noticed was the nod to Big Data, which is certainly the hook on which many dreams for Big Money hang. With enterprise search vendors looking for a way to gain traction in a market which has been caught in awkward positions when licensing and deploying “search,” new words and new Velcro patches are needed. I won’t mention the Hewlett Packard Autonomy matter nor the Fast Search & Transfer matter nor the millions pumped into traditional search vendors with little chance of paying back the investments. No. No. No.
I want to quote this statement from :
The growth of Big Data across verticals presents the enterprise search solutions market with further opportunities. Since newer data types are not confined to a relational database within an organization, solutions that can search information outside the scope of these relational frameworks are widely accepted. Demand for personalized search tools that operate in a pool of unlimited data from internal servers, the Internet, or third-party sources is also growing.
Ah, but how does one crawfish away from exaggeration? Easy. I noted:
However, the disparity between customer expectations and actual search outcomes could dissuade future investments. Customers expect a single query to retrieve the right results immediately. Therefore, search providers must offer timely and relevant results, taking into account the continuous addition of new data to repositories.
But “How big is the market? my inner child yelps. The answer: