Why can't enterprise search be just like Google?

Personalisation, contextualisation and extracting meaning from Big Data are key trends in enterprise search.

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Despite the challenges, there is a massive potential upside, points out Laura Wilber, Solutions Analyst at Exalead. Her presentation will focus the use of search technology to extract business value from today's massive flows of machine data, specifically using search-based applications for real-time operational reporting and analytics on machine data. "There's still far too little known about the power of search based applications for making all types of Big Data meaningful and accessible to ordinary human beings in real world business contexts" she points out.

All three search experts agree that one-size-fits-all search is out. "Our customers want information access that's personalised to them, their habits, their needs, their workflows, their departments", says Wilber. "And they want unified access to data regardless of whether it's inside or outside the firewall." She identifies search-based applications (SBAs) as an important part of the picture. "SBAs satisfy the need to find, explore, understand and use all the info that's relevant in a given context. It's search plus action, in context."

Bredenoord agrees, and stresses the importance of the user interface. "In many areas we are reaching the point where we know the ‘engine' works", he notes. "But presenting different user interfaces to different communities will be the key to adoption and growth".

There is every reason to believe that there is a bright future for high performance search. "As search matures as a business solution there will be more people around that have successfully done ‘it'", says Gerard Bredenoord. "They can articulate that their success was relevant only to a particular business challenge, rather than all-encompassing. Consolidating more of these views will provide a greater source for business to understand what works and what doesn't, and increase the probability of choosing the most appropriate solution."

Laura Wilber believes that search technology can play a pivotal role on solving the new generation of data management challenges like automated data transformation and unified, real-time information access and analytics. "Finding a document or a bit of information inside an organisation is without a doubt an even bigger challenge today than it was a decade ago", she notes. "And that will continue, even if we find that search as a standalone enterprise app cedes ground to search as an embedded function in specific workflows. But as with relational databases 50 years ago, search has also emerged as a foundational architecture on which one can build an amazing new generation of apps and services. "

Enterprise Search Europe will take place in London on 30-31 May 2012. View full details of all the speakers here.  

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