Autonomy and Search: A Surprise Regarding Search

June 9, 2014

I was flipping through the Overflight links for HP Autonomy. One item caught my attention. The tweet pointed me to the HP Autonomy Web site at this link IDOL is now at version 10.5. Keep in mind that the system was rolled out in 1996, so big leaps are not what I expect. HP defines Autonomy in terms of these functions or applications:

  • Big Data Analytics
  • Compliance Archiving
  • Contact Center Management
  • Database & Application Archiving
  • Document and Email Management
  • Enterprise Search
  • Knowledge Management
  • Legal Hold
  • Litigation Readiness Archiving
  • Media Intelligence
  • Policy-driven Information Management
  • Records Management
  • Rich Media Management
  • SFA Intelligence
  • Storage Optimization Archiving
  • Supervision & Policy Management
  • Video Surveillance
  • Voice of the Customer
  • Web Experience Management
  • Web Optimization

Quite a list of buzzwords. With Elasticsearch toting around $70 million, it might be difficult for HP to get IDOL to pay off the $11 billion purchase price, grow its top line revenues, and generate enough profit to keep stakeholders happy. One thing HP has going for it. HP is explaining IDOL search somewhat more clearly than IBM describes Watson. By the way, what is “SFA Intelligence.” I suppose I could ask Watson if there were a public demo.

Stephen E Arnold, June 9, 2014

Google Glass: New Direction and Fashionable Fixes

May 17, 2014

Google is tangled in the forget people mess. I noticed that the ostensible leadership of Google Glass was announced. You can read about the management tweak in “Marketing Exec Ivy Ross Is the New Head of Google Glass.” The write up states:

The Harvard-trained Ross has a rich, non-tech background, having held several high-level marketing positions at companies such as Mattel, the Gap, Disney, Coach and Old Navy.

No word on the fate of Babak Amir Parviz (aka Babak Parvis, Babak Parviz, Babak Amirparviz, and other variants). Does anyone care? Hard to say since a number of people have been identified as being in charge of Glass. The senior manager with the most involvement was Sergey Brin. Presumably he is not affected by the change.

I am not sure if anyone in Harrod’s Creek has Google Glass. Probably a good thing due to battery life and Kentuckians’ penchant for making fun of folks who are not wearing UK or Rooster Run hats.

Stephen E Arnold, May 18, 2014

Video Ads: Print Publisher Reveals the Unviewable Truth

May 5, 2014

I read “The Great Unwatched.” Clever title. (Keep in mind the link may go dead and you will have to hunt for a hard copy. Good luck with that, gentle reader.)  The main point is that video ads do not draw eyeballs. Er, this is a revelation I suppose. What I find interesting is that in my poking into video on the Web something became obvious years ago; to wit, put up a lot of videos and the videos don’t get much action. Sure, there may be a breakaway video that draws lots of eyeballs, but those viral wonders are tough to predict.

Now, what about ads? People want to turn them off or ignore them. There is a reason that regular TV commercials blast sound. Couch potatoes and walking media consumers want what they want, not what advertisers want them to want.

The New York Times reports, as real journalists do, the following:

By many estimates, more than half of online video ads are not seen, either because they are buried low on web pages or run in tiny, easily ignored video players on those pages, or run simultaneously with other ads. Vindico, an ad management platform company, deemed 57 percent of two billion video ads surveyed over two months to be “unviewable.”

There you have it. Most people don’t watch video ads.

I thought that Google’s gyrations were a pretty strong hint that video ads were an issue. The companies pumping money into ad videos may not be overwhelmed with customer demands for their products. The Web site data we examined showed that video was fun to talk about, often fun to produce, and probably fascinating for a handful of people. But getting the videos watched was a problem. If videos are not watched, what’s this mean for video ads? My understanding is that video ads are a sales disappointment.

There are some interesting implications. First, Google and others looking for video to deliver the next influx of easy money may have to rethink their assumptions. Second, fun stuff like making videos may have the value of a ride on a roller coaster. Once the ride is over, more fun requires another ride. There is limited satisfaction from the carnival attraction. Third, marketers may find themselves looking for a way to generate leads and makes sales that actually work. In short, video dreams disappear like the image on a display screen when the power cuts off.

Making an ad video is way more entertaining than watching a video ad. Just don’t tell anyone who does not “get” the joy of non linear editing.

Stephen E Arnold, May 5, 2014

OpenText: Poetry Is Better than Its Search Systems

May 1, 2014

OpenText has a special place in the Overflight archive. The company once sort of supported the Autonomy IDOL engine in something called RedDot. Then OpenText sells mainframey search systems like Information Dimension’ now really old BASIS system and the BRS/Search system. Love those green screens! Somewhere inside the company is Dr. Tim Bray’s SGML search and data management system. And for the history buffs, can you name the 1983 technology that continues to influence Hummingbird, another OpenText information system. Now I am sure I have notes on the Nstein technology, a once much hyped search, indexing, and management system. I grow weary.

I just read “OpenText Launches Discovery Suite to Capture and Create Value in Big Content.” The write up announces something that OpenText has been selling for years. The buzzwordage is notable, and you can find my view of content processing jargon in this six minute video.

What I noted was the probably unintentional inclusion of some Latinate sentence structures and a near miss on a type of poetry not practiced since William Carlos William riffed on red wheelbarrows. Here’s the melodious sequence I noted:

OpenText can integrated the unintegrated, structure the unstructured, and manage the unmanaged.

I am sorely tempted to add some lines like “support the unsupported,” but I will not.

Stephen E Arnold, May 1, 2014

Content Management: A $12 Billion Market in 2019!

April 8, 2014

Now I enjoy crazy numbers. I recall that someone at Yahoo allegedly said to a New York Times reporter:

Yahoo estimates that it would cost $300 million to build a search service from scratch. [See New York Times, July 10, 2008, page C5) My story about this estimate is at]

Crazy number. Three hundred million would not buy a Web search system in 2008. Today it may cover the cost of jet fuel for Google’s fleet of airplanes.

But crazy numbers get traction and create “real news.”

I read “Enterprise Content Management Market worth $12.32 Billion by 2019.” Now that is an interesting estimate. The calculation surprised me for three reasons:

  1. The outfit promulgating the good “news” is selling a report, presumably to those in the content management sector who need reassurance.
  2. There was no mention of WordPress- and SquareSpace-type outfits, which seem to be moving ahead of the pack of name brand vendors.
  3. The assumption that I actually know what content management or CMS means.

Like search, the CMS vendors have been looking for a way to become more relevant. The implementations of Broadvision, Documentum, Interwoven, Vignette, and other well known CMS systems have had some successes and failures.

The “real” news about this report mentions some aspects of CMS that are similar to the scope creep visible in enterprise search. Here are some examples of what CMS embraces:

enterprise document management, enterprise document imaging and capture, enterprise web content management, enterprise records management, enterprise document collaboration, enterprise digital rights management, content analytics, rich media management, advanced case management, enterprise document output management, enterprise workflow management, and other solutions; by type of emerging applications: social content management, mobile content management, big data management, and cloud content management; by type of deployments: hosted and on-premises; by verticals: academia and education, banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), consumer goods and retail, energy and power, government and defense, life science and healthcare, manufacturing, media and entertainment, telecom and IT, transportation, tourism, and hospitality, and other verticals; and by regions: North America (NA), Asia Pacific including Japan (APAC), Europe (EU), Middle East and Africa (MEA), and Latin America (LA).

This list is not helpful to me. I think the collection of jargon, buzzwords, and impressive sounding concepts is designed for Web indexing systems and to give a marginalized type of software some strap on muscles.

If information about the magnitude of the CMS market requires this type of verbal legerdemain, how credible is the report, the estimate, and maybe content management itself?

My personal view is that the buzzword content management, like knowledge management, is tough to define and may ultimately lack relevance in today’s business environment. The notion that a specious estimate adds value to those laboring in the CMS sector is amusing. The puffery, apologias, and jargon generated by those trying to sell systems that “manage” content causes me to chortle. Estimates of the volume of Big Data seem to fly in the face of “content management.” Even Google’s robots are struggling to keep pace with content proliferation based on my test queries.

At a time when organizations struggle to figure out what information is in their possession, CMS seems to have failed in its “mission”: Managing content.

CMS’ weakness is the notion of management itself. Since “management” is tough to define, content management sounds like a discipline cooked up by MBA hopefuls in an innovation study group.

Stephen E Arnold, April 7, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

April 1, 2014

SharePoint is showcasing its brand new marketing automation features. Dynamics Marketing marks a formal entrance into a market where Microsoft previously had no presence. CMS Wire covers the details in their article, “Will Microsoft Dynamics Marketing Trigger the SharePoint Effect?

Their coverage says:

“At last month’s Convergence conference in Atlanta, Microsoft revealed what it had been internally assembling around its 2012 acquisition of Marketing Resource Management (MRM) specialists MarketingPilot. The resulting digital marketing suite has the potential to shake up the marketplace just as SharePoint did in the enterprise content management (ECM) market in 2001.”

Many wonder if Microsoft Dynamics will enjoy the same momentum as SharePoint, or the “SharePoint effect.” Simply stated, many companies don’t care if Microsoft offers the best product; they just want a simple implementation that integrates with their other Microsoft products. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and covers a lot of SharePoint news on his Web site, We will have to see if Dynamics Marketing stands the test of time like SharePoint.

Emily Rae Aldridge, April 1, 2014

The HP View of Watson

March 19, 2014

I suppose IBM will respond with more than recipes at South by Southwest. If you enjoy big companies’ analyses of one another, you will want to gobble up “15 Reasons HP Autonomy IDOL OnDemand Beats IBM Watson.” This is not the recipe for making pals with a $100 billion outfit.

What does IBM Watson have as weaknesses? What does the reinvented (sort of) Autonomy technology have as strengths? I cannot reproduce the 15 items, but I can highlight five of the weaknesses and enjoin you to crack open the slideshow that chops up the IBM Watson PR stunt.

Here are the six weaknesses I found interesting:

  1. Reason 3. IBM Watson is a data scientist heavy platform. IDOL is not. My view is that HP paid $11 billion for Autonomy and now has to deal with the write down, legal actions related to the deal, and tossing out Mike Lynch’s revenue producing formula. Set aside the data scientists and the flip side “too few data scientists” and consider the financial mountain HP has to climb. A data scientist or two might help.
  2. Reason 4. HP has “an ultimate partner story.” I find this fascinating. Autonomy grew via acquisitions and an indirect sales model. Now HP wants to make the partner model generate enough revenue to pay off the Autonomy purchase price, grow HP’s top line faster than traditional lines of business collapse, and make partners really happy. This may be a big job. See IBM weakness 9, 11, 12, and 14. There is some overlap which suggests HP is having difficulty cooking up 15 credible weaknesses of Watson. (I can name some, by the way.)
  3. Reason 6. HP offers a “proven power platform for analytics.” I am not sure about the alliteration nor am I confident in my understanding of analytics and search. IBM Watson doesn’t have much to offer in either of these departments. IDOL, at least the pre HP incarnation, had reasonably robust security capabilities. I wonder how these will be migrated to the HP multi cloud environment. IBM Watson is doing recipes, so it too has its hands full.
  4. Reason 10. HP asserts that it offers a “potential app store.” I understand app store. Apple offers one that works well. Google is in the app store business. Amazon has poked its nose into the marketplace as well. I don’t think either HP or IBM have credible app stores for variants of the two companies’ search technologies. Oh, well, it sounds good. “Potential” is a deal breaker for me.
  5. Reason 13. HP “is focused on ramping up the innovation lifecycle.” I think this means coming up with good ideas faster. I am not sure if a service can spark a client’s innovation. Doesn’t lifecycle include death? Since IBM Watson seems a work in progress, I am not sure HP’s just released reinvention of Autonomy has a significant advantage because it too is “ramping up.”
  6. Reason 15. HP has “fired up” engineers. Okay, maybe. IBM has engineers, but I am not sure if they are fired up. My question is, “Is being fired up” a good thing. I want engineers to deliver solutions that work, are not “ramping up,” and not marketing driven.

My take on this slide deck is that it is nothing more than a marketing vehicle. I had to click multiple ads for HP products and services to view the 15 reasons. Imagine my disappointment that five of the IBM weaknesses related to partnering programs. Wow, that must be really helpful to a licensee of cloud Autonomy trying to deal with performance issues on an HP data center. HP is definitely countering IBM Watson’s recipe play with old fashioned cheerleading. Rah, rah.

Stephen E Arnold, March 19, 2014

IBM Watson: Now a Foodie

March 17, 2014

One of my two or three readers sent me a link to “IBM’s New Food Truck Uses a Supercomputer to Dream Up All Their ‘Surprising’ Recipes.” For code wrappers and Lucene, Watson is a versatile information processing system. Instead of an online demo of Web indexing, I learned about “surprising recipes.”

The initiative to boost Watson toward its $10 billion revenue goal involves the Institute of culinary Education.” The idea is that IBM and ICE deliver “computational creativity” to create new recipes. Julia Child would probably resist computerizing her food activities. Her other, less well known activities, would have eagerly accepted Watson’s inputs.

The article quotes IBM as saying:

“Creating a recipe for a novel and flavorful meal is the result of a system that generates millions of ideas out of the quintillions of possibilities,” IBM writes. “And then predicts which ones are the most surprising and pleasant, applying big data in new ways.”

The article even includes a video. Apparently the truck made an appearance at South by Southwest. From my cursory research, the Watson truck was smart enough to be elsewhere when the alleged inebriated driver struck attendees near the pivot point of Austin’s night life.

The IBM marketing professionals are definitely clear headed and destined for fame as the food truck gnaws its way into the $10 billion revenue objective. Did IBM researchers ask Watson is this was an optimal use of its computational capabilities. Did Watson contribute to the new Taco Bell loaded beefy nacho grillers. Ay, Caramba!

Stephen E Arnold,

Fetopolis Find Fault with Facebook Marketing

March 16, 2014

The article titled This $US600,000 Facebook Ad Disaster Is A Warning Small Business Owners on Business Insider Australia tells the story of Kapur Brar, CEO of small business Fetopolis. Fetopolis is a compendium of online fashion magazines with a healthy online following. Until recently, Brar relied heavily on marketing through Facebook, spending $100,000 a day. The article explains why Brar has “fallen out of love with Facebook,”

“He discovered…that his Facebook fanbase was becoming polluted with thousands of fake likes from bogus accounts. He can no longer tell the difference between his real fans and the fake ones. Many appear fake because the users have so few friends, are based in developing countries, or have generic profile pictures. At one point, he had a budget of more than $US600,000 for Facebook ad campaigns, he tells us. Now he believes those ads were a waste of time.”

Strangely, this story isn’t really being told, in spite of Facebook having 25 million small businesses using Facebook for marketing at varying levels of sophistication.

Did the purchase of WhatsApp cause this interesting story to slip into oblivion? The article offers some defense of Facebook- the majority of customers are happy, the payment of Brar’s bill is disputed, and yet it is also true that Facebook does not allow for third party “click audits,” which is standard practice.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 16, 2014

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Fast Redefined: The 2008 Search Acquisition Does a 365

March 9, 2014

Figure skating, anyone? You can do a Salchow jump. The skater has some options. Falling is not one of them. The idea is to leap from one foot to another. The Axel jump tosses is some spinning; for example, a triple Axel is 3.5 revolutions. Want creativity? The skater can flip, bunny hop, and Mazurka.

But the ice has to be right. Skating requires a Zamboni. Search requires information retrieval that works.


One should not confuse a Zamboni with an ageing ice skater.

Fast Search & Transfer has just come back from an extended training period and is ready to perform. The founder may be retired after an unfavorable court decision. The Fast Search Linux and Unix customers have been blown off. But, according to Fortune CNN, Microsoft has made enterprise search better. Give the skater a three for that jump called Office 365.

Navigate to “Can Microsoft Make Enterprise Search Better?” The subtitle is ripe with promise: “Updates to its Office 365 suite show benefits from a 2008 acquisition.” There you go. Technology from the late 1990s, a withdrawal from Web search, a run at unseating Autonomy as the leading provider of enterprise content processing, and allegations of financial wrongdoing and you have a heck of base from which to “make enterprise search better.”

At one time, Fast Search offered an alternative to Google’s Web search system. The senior management of Fast Search decided to cede Web search to Google and pursue dominance in the enterprise search market. Well, how did  that work out? The shift from the Web to the enterprise worked for a while, but the costs of customer support, sales, and implementation put the company in a bind. The result was a crash to the ice.

Microsoft bought the sliding Fast Search operation and embarked on a journey to make content in SharePoint findable. The effort was a boom to second tier search vendors who offered SharePoint licensees a search and retrieval system. Most of these vendors are all but unknown outside of the 150 million SharePoint license base. Others have added new jumps to their search routines and have skated to customer support and business intelligence.

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