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2005 Year End Review: The Biggest Enterprise Search Stories of 2005

Last Updated Mar 2009

By Mark Bennett, New Idea Engineering, Inc. - Volume 3 Number 1 - January 2006

Looking back is always fun, and in hindsight 2005 featured a number of significant events in the enterprise search market space. This list represents what we feel are the top 5 enterprise search stories of 2005. Some of these are big enough subjects that we have detailed them further in separate articles elsewhere in this issue.

1. Autonomy Buys Verity

Autonomy, one of the big European enterprise search engine companies, announced that it was acquiring Verity, arguably the leading US vendor. See the related article 2006: Transatlantic Titans Square Off elsewhere in this issue of Enterprise Search. This took a number of people by surprise. The general consensus was that if Verity were to join with another company, it would be one like Oracle or IBM.

Autonomy has announced its plans to continue and accelerate development in Verity's Liquid Office. Teleform, and Utraseek; and to insure that future releases of K2 are compatible with Autonomy's IDOL.

This acquisition will have some impact on Verity's large installed K2 customer base, and only time will tell how successful the integration will be. New Idea Engineering continues to support all Verity products as part of its support for most leading enterprise search solutions.

2: Google Stalled on Enterprise Search

With a brand name now more recognized than Coca-Cola, it seems impossible that Google would have any problems selling enterprise search, and yet they have not yet enjoyed the success in the enterprise market that many expected.

Ironically, one reason Google may not be enjoying the dominant success in the enterprise market may be because of the relevance model is so successful for web search.

Google's "secret sauce" is their page ranking algorithm, based on how many other web sites cross link to specific pages - the assumption being the more links to a page, the more important it must be. Enterprise Intranets often do not have this type of organic linkage - top level content is linked an established hierarchy, based more on "org charts" than on the usefulness of the content. In fact, sometimes enterprise content in Office or PDF formats or in corporate databases is not really linked at all.

Nonetheless, users know Google from the web, and very few IT staffs have not been asked "why can't we just use Google for enterprise search?"

We've had customers who use one of the Google appliance solutions and are quite happy; and we've had customers who tried Google and found it was not right for their application. Because the Google appliances are fully self-contained and closed, they don't yet seem to have the flexibility that enterprises require.

3: FAST accelerates its push into US Markets

FAST Search and Transfer, the other big European enterprise search vendor, started getting traction in the US this year, especially where customers have large sets of documents. Capitalizing a bit on the angst of Verity customers, FAST started proactively reaching out to existing K2 customers and introduced their Safe Passage program making it easier for Verity K2 customers and partners to convert to FAST.

FAST also had some positive movement in the minds of industry analysts, as evidenced by their movement in the Gartner "Magic Quadrants".Every year analysts at The Gartner Group ranks the major enterprise search engine vendors on their vision an ability to execute. Verity has always enjoyed good ranking well in this annual report, but FAST has been making solid positive over several years. See the press release on the FASTSearch site.

4: Search Analytics Comes of Age

We've been telling you for years that Search Analytics is critical to great site search, but finally in 2005 almost everybody has now heard of Search Analytics, and it is now widely talked about by all the analysts.

If your company is still not making full use of this critical business intelligence tool, please RUN, don't walk, to your search vendor or perhaps to favorite search consultant to get this turned on ASAP.

See other related articles.

5: Faceted Search and Smarter Results

Since the average search is still 1 to 2 words, and content is growing exponentially both on private and public networks, the number of matching documents per search keeps going up and up. And, as previously stated, link ranking doesn't help much inside corporate networks.

The response has been to make the results list itself more helpful. Faceted Search gives users additional links to click on, usually at the left hand side of the results list, to further narrow a search. Vendors are also adding innovative features to results lists to make them more powerful.

Look for an expanded article on this and related topics in our next issue.