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Whither Enterprise Search?

This article is part of the Best Practices White Paper Enterprise Search [May 2008]


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Enterprise search is undergoing rapid transformation. What was once seen as a simple text box in which one would enter a set of keywords to produce a list of matching documents, is now quickly being transformed by innovative technology companies to be much more. Gartner has renamed the space "information access" to reflect the fact that search vendors go way beyond indexing and serving up document content. It is the view of this author that search vendors are uniquely positioned to usher in a new era of worker productivity and a new way to work—a "high performance workplace."

Search Sits At the Intersection
Sue Feldman from IDC conducted a study called "The Hidden Costs of Information Work" This study revealed that knowledge workers spent the bulk of their time searching for, analyzing and assembling information. This process is incredibly inefficient. Workers must locate information in disparate systems, analyze it using various application interfaces and then compile the relevant and related pieces. Search vendors hold the keys to integrating this workflow and delivering new high performance tools.

Thanks to Google, everyone understands that relevance is a key component of good search technology. But most people don’t think of relevance as an integration problem. No matter how powerful the ranking algorithm, if the data that one works with on a daily basis is not being indexed by the search engine, it will be of little value to the worker that relies on it. Search vendors are developing technologies that enable one to connect to various content sources, structured or unstructured, and relate the data contained within.

Data Visualization
Another piece to the high-performance puzzle is "data visualization" and user interface. This is another area of search vendor expertise. The simplicity of Google’s Internet search is appealing, but for obvious reasons doesn’t suit more complex enterprise environments. Pioneers such as Endeca have demonstrated the importance of not only enabling workers to find data, but to present in a form that enables it to be analyzed and acted on.

"Document and data assembly" is yet another hurdle that search vendors can help overcome. Anyone who has built a PowerPoint presentation understands how tedious and inefficient document assembly is. After finding and analyzing the relevant content, the user must jump back and forth between several applications, spending inordinate amounts of time making the data presentable. Search vendors are ideally positioned to dramatically improve this workflow. Search applications already connect to structured and unstructured repositories. They can relate this data automatically and present it in a logical, intuitive interface.

Enter the High Performance Workplace
A new era of productivity will be ushered in by search vendors who deliver next-generation software that provides users with a unified and actionable view of information. The high performance workplace sits at the intersection of composite applications, data integration and document assembly. Search will be at the heart of it all.

BA-Insight’s Longitude
Longitude
is an information access solution that helps companies and governmental organizations improve operations by making better use of their data. Longitude’s patent-pending approach to relevance and usability enables people to directly access and analyze data from disparate data sources, resulting in immediate productivity improvement. Longitude represents the first milestone toward the high performance workplace.


BA-Insight is a next-generation information access company, unifying the ease of search with the analytical power of business intelligence. Combining patent-pending intellectual property and a deep focus on user experience, BA-Insight’s flagship product, Longitude, helps people quickly connect, find and analyze information in ways never before possible. Leading global organizations like Booz Allen Hamilton, Bechtel Engineering and Lockheed Martin rely on BA-Insight products to deliver actionable insight to every part of their organizations.


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