What Company Is the Leader in Search Powered by Artificial Intelligence? One Answer May Surprise You. It Did Me.

November 30, 2021

Give up? The answer is Lucidworks, “the leader in AI-powered search.” You can get the gull story from Unite.ai and the article “Will Hayes, CEO of Lucidworks – Interview Series.” What’s “AI”? I don’t know, and the answer is not provided from @IAmWillHayes’ comments. What’s “search”? I don’t know because no specific definition is provided. (Search is a blanket word, covering everything from the open source Lucene in policeware solutions to whiz-bang, patented real time methods for time series data from Trendalyze. And we must not forget the generous offerings of “search” for eDiscovery, product supplier data, chemical structures, streaming video files, code libraries, and mysterious content like the interesting information in encrypted Signal and Telegram interactions. Search at Lucidworks is different it seems.

I noted this statement:

Lucidworks takes mission-critical business problems and solves them with search.

I assume that Lucidworks is disconnected from Dassault Systèmes search based applications approach. There is a 2011 book titled “Search Based Applications: At the Confluence of Search and Database Technologies.” The author is Dr. Gregory Grefenstette with assistance from Laura Wilber. The Lucidworks’ assertion struck me as one more example of marketing hoo hah disconnected from what came before. At least, the Dassault technology was original, not a recycling of open source software.

Here’s another statement offered as an original insight:

Lucidworks offers products and applications for commerce, customer service, and the workplace that use AI and machine learning to solve search. Fusion, our flagship product, uses AI extensively through every stage of enriching data—during ingest and at query time, for understanding user intent, and personalizing results that match that intent.

I want to point out that the Paris-based firm Polyspot used almost the exact same language (both French and English) to describe the company’s approach to information access. Here’s what Bloomberg says about the now repositioned company:

PolySpot SAS develops and publishes enterprise software. The Company’s products offer search and information access solutions designed to improve business and ensure that companies can access the data they need, regardless of their structure, format or origin. PolySpot markets its products internationally.

Dis Yogi Berra or Yogi Bear say: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” I go with the cartoon bear. The aphorism applies to Lucidworks in my opinion.

Lucidworks also does chatbots, fits into the connected experience cloud (CXC), and compounds “value.” Okay. The company, according to @IAmWillHayes, is “leader in next-generation search solutions and we have an exciting roadmap of cloud products coming in the near future.”

I wonder what outfits like Algolia, Coveo, Sphinx Search, and even the heroic X1 think about this assertion. What will Google’s revolving door search experts make of Lucidworks’ bold assertion? What about the crafty laborers in AWS search vineyards who watch the competitors gun for the Bezos bulldozer? What about the innovators working on the somewhat frightening IBM search solution? Maybe Microsoft will just pull a “Fast Search” and buy Lucidworks to beef up its incredible array of finding systems?

My hunch is that Lucidworks has to deal with its backers who want their money back plus some upside. Mix in the harsh market realities of many options, some free or low cost, and others bundled with purpose built solutions like Voyager Labs’ software and what do you get?

I am not sure about your answer. My answer is, “Recycling marketing lingo, ideas, and assertions which are decades old?” Will AI, machine learning, and CXC pull a rabbit from the search magician’s hat?

Maybe. But the investors who have injected more than $200 million into the company may want more than a magic show. And what is “search” and “AI” anyway? Solr with a new outfit from Amazon?

Stephen E Arnold, November 30, 2021

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