New Enterprise Search Market Study

August 1, 2017

Don Quixote and Solving Death: No Problem, Amigo

I read “Global Enterprise Search Market 2017-2022.” I was surprised that a consulting firms would invest time and energy in writing about a market sector which has not been thriving. Now don’t start sending me email about my lack of cheerfulness about enterprise search. The sector is thriving, but it is doing so with approaches that are disguised as applications which deliver something other than inflated expectations, business closures, and lawsuits.

Image result for don quixote

I will slay the beast that is enterprise search. “Hold still, you knave!”

First, let’s look at what the report covers, then I will tackle some of the issues about which I think as the author of the Enterprise Search Report and a number of search-related articles and analyses. (The articles are available from the estimable Information Today Web site, and the free analyses may be located at www.xenky.com/vendor-profiles.

The write up told me that enterprise search boils down to these companies:

Coveo Corp
Dassault Systemes
IBM Corp
Microsoft
Oracle
SAP AG

Coveo is a fork of Copernic. Yep, it’s a proprietary system which originally was focused on providing search for Microsoft. Now the company has spread its wings to include a raft of functions which range from the cloud to customer support / help desk services.

Dassault Systèmes is the owner of Exalead. Since the acquisition, Exalead as a brand has faded. The desktop search system was killed, and its proprietary technology lives on mostly as a replacement for Dassault’s internal search system which was based on Autonomy. Most of the search wizards have left, but the Exalead technology was good before Dassault learned that selling search was indeed a challenge.

IBM offers a number of products which include open source Lucene, acquired technology like Vivisimo’s clustering engine, and home brew code from its IBM wizards. (Did you  know that the precursor of PageRank was an IBM “invention”?) The key is that IBM uses search to sell services which have a higher margins than providing a free version of brute force information access.

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Google Ups the Ante for Local SEO

July 14, 2017

Google is now allowing small businesses to insert content directly into search results. The content can be a special event or anything related to business that will appear as featured snippet in the carousel.

As reported by The Verge in an article titled Local Businesses Can Now Feature Content Directly in Google Search Results, the author says:

The new posts show up below the company card in search results, where information like the location, phone number, web address, and hours of the company are already aggregated. The Posts feature is available starting today for verified companies using Google My Business.

As more business move their marketing activities online, it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to reach out to their customers. Google, being the leader in this space does not want local business to miss out on this and is rolling out services like these for small businesses.

Digital marketing already is too competitive for small businesses with limited budgets. With these changes, Google expects that local businesses will try to introduce digital marketing into their marketing mix. Google gains by procuring data of local businesses. What else does it want?

Vishal Ingole July 14, 2017

Google: What For-Fee Thought Leader Love? And for Money? Yep

July 13, 2017

Talk about disinformation. Alphabet Google finds itself in the spotlight for normal consulting service purchases. How many of those nifty Harvard Business Review articles, essays in Strategy & Business (the money loser published by the former Booz, Allen & Hamilton), or white papers generated by experts like me are labors of thought leader love.

Why not ask a person like me, an individual who has written a white paper for an interesting company in Spain? You won’t. Well, let me interview myself:

Question: Why did you write the white paper about multi-language text analysis?

Answer: I did a consulting job and was asked to provide a report about the who, what, why, etc. of the company’s technology.

Question: Is the white paper objective and factual?

Answer: Yes, I used information from my book research, a piece of published material from the “old” Autonomy Software, and the information gathered at the company’s headquarters in Madrid by one of my colleagues from the engineers. I had a couple of other researchers chase down information about the company, its products, customers, and founder. I then worked through the information about text analysis in my archive. I think I did a good job of presenting the technology and why it is important.

Question: Were you paid?

Answer: Yes, I retired in 2013, and I don’t write for third parties unless those third parties pony up cash.

Question: Do you flatter the company or distort the company’s technology, its applications, or its benefits?

Answer: I try to work through the explanation in order to inform. I offer my opinion at the end of the write up. In this particular case, the technology is pretty good. I state that.

Question: Would another expert agree with you?

Answer: Some would and some would not. When figuring out with a complex multi-lingual platform when processing text in 50 languages, there is room for differences of opinion with regard to such factors as [a] text through put on a particular application, [b] corpus collection and preparation, [c] system tuning for a particular application such as a chatbot, and other factors.

Question: Have you written similar papers for money over the years?

Answer: Yes, I started doing this type of writing in 1972 when I left the PhD program at the University of Illinois to join Halliburton Nuclear in Washington, DC.

Question: Do people know you write white papers or thought leader articles for money?

Answer: Anyone who knows me is aware of my policy of charging money for knowledge work. I worked at Booz, Allen & Hamilton and a number of other equally prestigious firms. To my knowledge, I have never been confused with Mother Teresa.

Mother Theresa A Person Who Works for Money
Image result for mother teresa seajpg02

 

I offer this information as my reaction to the Wall Street Journal’s write up “Google Pays Scholars to Influence Policy.” You will have to pay to read the original article because Mr. Murdoch is not into free information.The original appeared in my dead tree edition of the WSJ on July 12, 2017 on the first page with a jump to a beefy travelogue of Google’s pay-for-praise and pay-for-influence activities. A correction to the original story appears on Fox News. Gasp. Find that item here.

Google, it seems, is now finding itself in the spotlight for search results, presenting products to consumers, and its public relations/lobbying activities.

My view is that Google does not deserve this type of criticism. I would prefer that real journalists tackle such subjects as [a] the Loon balloon patent issue, [2] Google’s somewhat desperate attempts to discover the next inspiration like Yahoo’s online advertising approach, and [3] solving death’s progress.

Getting excited about white papers which have limited impact probably makes a real journalist experience a thrill. For me, the article triggers a “What’s new?”

But I am not Mother Teresa, who would have written for Google for nothing. Nah, not a chance.

Stephen E Arnold, July 14, 2017

Marketers Need to Have a Bot Strategy in Place

July 13, 2017

The future of eCommerce will depend largely on bots and how they are deployed across various channels. The marketers, however, need to be in place and be ready to tap into its full potential.

Martech Today in an article titled An Introduction to Conversational Commerce and Bots says:

Bots are sweeping the digital landscape, giving consumers even more ways to interact with their favorite brands. It’s high time for marketers to think about how to incorporate bots into their digital strategies.

With the advent of natural language processing and machine learning, it is becoming increasingly easy to deploy bots, chatbots and digital assistants across various devices and platforms. As more users embrace the technology, the majority of purchases will be influenced by these bots. Thus, marketers need to be ready with a strategy to capitalize it.

Domino’s is already reaping the benefits of bots that it has deployed across various channels. Big names are already competing for placing their digital assistants in everybody’s pockets and homes. The problem is like search engines and a plethora of cloud service providers; these bots will know too many personal details of users. Privacy concerns thus still need to be addressed.

Vishal Ingole, July 13, 2017

 

Facebook May Be Exploiting Emotions of Young Audiences

June 26, 2017

Open Rights Group, a privacy advocacy group is demanding details of a study Facebook conducted on teens and sold its results to marketing companies. This might be a blatant invasion of privacy and attempt to capitalize on emotional distress of teens.

In a press release sent out by the Open Rights Group and titled Rights Groups Demand More Transparency over Facebook’s ‘Insights’ into Young Users, the spokesperson says:

It is incumbent upon Facebook as a cultural leader to protect, not exploit, the privacy of young people, especially when their vulnerable emotions are involved.

This is not the first time technology companies have come under heavy criticism from privacy rights groups. Facebook through its social media platform collects information and metrics from users, analyzes it and sells the results to marketing companies. However, Facebook never explicitly tells the user that they are being watched. Open Rights Group is demanding that this information is made public. Though there is no hope, will Facebook concede?

Vishal Ingole, June 26, 2017

Watson Enters Two New Fields

June 13, 2017

IBM’s Watson has been very busy, and it is no longer just generating recipes and curing cancer. A couple pieces from the company’s recent PR blitz illustrate two new hats the AI has donned: Endgadget shares, “Watson Could Be the Key to Smarter Manufacturing Robots,” while “IBM Watson Now Being Used to Catch Rogue Traders” appears at Silicon Republic. It looks like IBM is positioning Watson as the AI that can do anything.

Engadget reports that Watson is being tapped to perform quality-control for ABB, a firm that makes manufacturing robots and the software that runs them. Writer Rob LeFabvre describes:

Imagine an automotive assembly line, full of robots that build cars without any human intervention. Someone has to monitor and inspect the machinery for defects, ensuring their safe and efficient operation. ABB’s technology can gather real-time images and then get Watson to analyze them for potential problems, something a human previously needed to do.

Meanwhile, Watson now offers a tool for companies to catch rogue traders within their ranks. Reporter Colm Gorey writes:

Referred to as Watson Financial Services, the new product will become a monitoring tool within companies to search through every trader’s emails and chats, combining it with the trading data on the floor. The objective? To see if there are any correlations between suspicious conversations online and activity that could be construed as rogue trading.

While the service is being tested out on a few trading-sector companies, IBM intends to market it to the growing “RegTech” field.

IBM has pointed its famous AI in many directions, and will likely continue to work Watson into as many fields as possible. We ask, “Can she save IBM?”

Cynthia Murrell, June 13, 2017

The Watson Disease: Google and TPUs

June 9, 2017

I think IBM Watson has performed a useful service. Big Blue demonstrates that writing about future technology and its applications can send useful signals to investors, competitors, and analysts.

The Watson Disease is, to my way of thinking, a weird combination of marketing hyperbole and fanciful thinking. The outputs in the form of articles, interviews, and marketing collateral are entertaining and sometimes fun.

One example I spotted appears in “Cloud TPUs: A Chip to Make Every Business as Smart as Google.” The headline assumes that “every business” is less smart than Google. It follows that the less smart will want to be as smart or smarter than Google. It seems to me that Facebook has been zipping along quite nicely. So has Amazon. Too bad that these firms are one which the real journalists at PC Magazine include in the category of firms which want to be “as smart as Google.”

The guts of the story focus on Google’s response to the strong market uptake of Nvidia technology for assorted smart applications. AMD is working to catch up, but it seems to be cornering the bitcoin mining niche while Nvidia is capturing hearts and minds across applications.

Google wants to be the big dog with its TPU or once secret Tensor Processing Units. These confections perform magic when it comes to one trick pony machine learning functions. TPUs are specifically engineered to do artificial intelligence stuff.

The write up reports that:

Cloud Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) are part of a trend toward AI-specific processors, and for Google in particular these cloud-based TPUs are the underlying computer element driving a top-to-bottom AI rewrite fundamentally redefining how Google’s apps, infrastructure, software, and services function by building intelligence in from the ground up.

That’s quite a statement enriched with some amazing words like “in”, “from” and “up”.

The Google wizard explains that Google’s approach has been to build “a kind of drag racing car.”

When will I be able to drive this race car?

Well, there’s the promise of “soon.” Just like IBM Watson’s takeover of the smart software sector. “Soon.”

The car analogies provide a metaphorical anchor for the TPU revolution.

The exemplary use case explains that a Japanese used car dealer creates Web pages automatically.

Yep, used cars.

But there are more application opportunities. I learned:

“There are limits, it’s not magic, but it’s really exciting how many places it’s applicable and in how many businesses it makes sense,” said Hölzle [a Google wizard]. “We’re aiming to be the cloud platform for machine learning and analytics. We’re making it much more accessible to average companies because it works across so many circumstances, from AlphaGo and data center cooling optimization to image and speech recognition trained on the same neural network.”

An interesting nugget finds its way into the sci-fi vision. I highlighted this statement:

Once you have a machine learning project, 10 percent of time is spent on ML and 90 percent is on data preparation, cleaning, interpreting results, and iterating to find better models,” said Hölzle. “We have something in Cloud ML to automatically try out multiple models to find what works best. You may have to pay more because the training step is hundreds of thousands of times more compute power, but you get the optimal model and higher accuracy just by pushing a button and waiting four hours.”

I think this means that human grunt work is required. Where’s the smart software? Well, not yet. I like the “pay more” phrase too.

I wish I could just ask Watson. In the meantime, I will check out the Nvidia technology. I fear there is no antibiotic for the Watson Disease. Scary.

Stephen E Arnold, June 12, 2017

SEO Adapts to Rapidly Changing Algorithms

May 30, 2017

When we ponder the future of search, we consider factors like the rise of “smart” searching—systems that deliver what they know the user wants, instead of what the user wants—and how facial recognition search is progressing. Others look from different angles, though, like the business-oriented Inc., which shares the post, “What is the Future of Search?” Citing SEO expert Baruch Labunski, writer Drew Hendricks looks at how rapid changes to search engines’ ranking algorithms affect search-engine-optimization marketing efforts.

First, companies must realize that it is now essential that their sites play well with mobile devices; Google is making mobile indexing a priority. We learn that the rise of virtual assistants raises the stakes—voice-controlled searches only return the very first search result. (A reason, in my opinion, to use them sparingly for online searches.) The article pays the most attention, though, to addressing local search. Hendricks advises:

By combining the highly specific locational data that’s available from consumers searching on mobile, alongside Google’s already in-progress goal of customizing results by location for all users, positioning your brand to those who are physically near you will become crucial in 2017. …

 

Our jobs as brand managers and promoters will continue to become more complicated as time passes. The days of search engine algorithms filtering by obvious data points, or being easily manipulated, are over. The new fact of search engine optimization is appealing to your immediate markets – those around you and those who are searching directly for your product.

Listing one’s location(s) on myriad review sites and Google Places and placing the address on the company website are advised. The piece concludes by reassuring marketers that, as long as they make careful choices, they can successfully navigate the rapid changes to Google and other online search engines.

Cynthia Murrell, May 30, 2017

Did IBM Watson Ask Warren Buffet about Value?

May 19, 2017

I read “$4 Billion Stock Sale Suggests Warren Buffett’s Love Affair with IBM Is Over.” The subtitle caught my eye. What would Watson think about this statement:

Berkshire Hathaway’s founder Warren Buffett has admitted that buying IBM shares was a mistake. He has sold 30 percent of his 81 million shares because the company failed to live up to the expectations it held in 2011.

If I had access to a fully functioning (already trained) IBM Watson, I would ask Watson that question directly.

Last night I was watching the NBA playoff game between the technically adept Houston team and the programming-crazed San Antonio team. There in the middle of a start and stop game was an IBM Watson commercial.

Let me tell you that the IBM Watson message nestled comfortably amidst the tats, the hysterical announcers, and the computer-literature crowd.

IBM has a knack for getting its message out to buyers with cash in their hands for a confection of open source, home brew, and acquired technology.

Why doesn’t Warren Buffet get the message?

According the the write up, Mr. Buffet explains what message he received about IBM:

… IBM “hasn’t done what, five or six years ago, I expected would happen – or what the management expected would happen, if you look back at what they were projecting, and how they thought the business would develop. “The earnings have been obviously disappointing. I mean, five or six years ago, I think they were earning $20+ billion pre-tax and maybe it’s $13 billion now, and I don’t think the quality of the earnings has improved. “It’s been a period when it’s been tougher than they thought and it’s been tougher than I thought. But I was wrong. I don’t blame them. I get paid to make my own decisions, and sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong.

Interesting but not quite as remarkable as smart software being advertised to NBA fans. Air ball.

Stephen E Arnold, May 19, 2017

Google: Fateful Advertising Decision

May 19, 2017

Has Google AdWords become indispensable for business? It is beginning to look that way, we learn from the StarTribune’s article, “How Google Decided to Take Ads on the Most Prominent Real Estate on the Web.” New York Times writer Daisuke Wakabayashi describes the company’s incorporation of search-based advertising:

In the 17 years since Google introduced text-based advertising above search results, the company has allocated more space to ads and created new forms of them. The ad creep on Google has pushed ‘organic’ (unpaid) search results farther down the screen, an effect even more pronounced on the smaller displays of smartphones. The changes are profound for retailers and brands that rely on leads from Google searches to drive online sales. With limited space available near the top of search results, not advertising on search terms associated with your brand or displaying images of your products is tantamount to telling potential customers to spend their money elsewhere. The biggest development with search ads is the proliferation of product listing ads, or PLAs. In a departure from its text-based ads, Google started allowing retailers to post pictures, descriptions and prices of products at the top of search results in 2009.

Another change is the ability for advertisers to link to more general search terms; for example, users see ads for a specific Nike design when they search for “running shoes.” The company has also put resources into optimizing ad placement on both computers and mobile devices. It has gotten to the point that many companies accept a Google AdWords initiative as a necessary expense. Can anyone topple Google from this unique marketing tower?

Cynthia Murrell, May 19, 2017

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