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Enterprise Search Blog

Are You a Search Whisperer?

Several years ago, Toyota ran an ad in the San Francisco Bay Area featuring the then recently retired Steve Young of San Francisco 49ers fame. In the advert, he is chatting with a woman at a party and the woman asks, "What do you do for a living, Steve?" Rather than answer directly, Young replies with a question: "Do you follow sports? Football?” When the woman answers that she doesn't, Young's (truthful) reply? "I'm a lawyer."

I'm not a lawyer, so when people ask me what I do, I have trouble answering in a precise way. Usually I’ll say “I help companies get the right search platform for their requirements” or "I help companies tune their search platform”. Both are true, but people outside of the narrow field no idea have no idea what I do, or they think I do SEO for pubic web sites. Then I’ll add "and I fly small airplanes" and that's usually where the conversation goes. 

It's tough being a "search whisperer", because even people with an enterprise search problem often don't realize that the vendor cannot help fix bad search. Even worse, they don't know that they can avoid problems in the first place by picking a platform that meets the need, and then managing it relentlessly. 

Now that the commercial market is down to a handful of players, it may get easier because some of the newer platforms don’t have the rich feature sets that seemed so promising in the old expensive brands. It’s easier to justify a bare bones platform and hope than it is to buy yet another expensive platform that may or may not work as expected.

Do you have one of the growing lists of obsolete platforms (FAST ESP, Verity, Vivisimo, Endeca, Google...) and want to make it work better? Are you going to go with a powerful search API with no real management capabilities? Or do you want to future-proof your search? That’s where we come in: we’re the Search Whisperers.