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Developing the Next Generation of Enterprise Search

Source: It-director.com


Search engines have done for the Internet what VisiCalc did for personal computers. They turned a technology innovation into a practical and useful tool for the user. For most people, the search engine is the most important gateway to information, products, services and contacts with fellow Web surfers.

Google has built a huge business by creating an Internet search engine that makes sense of the ever-growing volume of information on the Internet. Search facilities are more limited when you turn to searching the much smaller volume of information on corporate systems.

Organisations need better internal search facilities. One representative of the next generation of enterprise search engines is ProFind, a new product from Endeca. Enterprise search is becoming increasingly important as organisations need to search across all their information for CRM and compliance applications, for example. The key ingredient of Endeca ProFind it is what Endeca call Guided Navigation. Guided Navigation combines the advantages of free text search and browsing an index. Neither approach is totally effective but when combined deliver very effective results.

When you use ProFind to search information it creates what Endeca calls Faceted Navigation on the fly. This is a multi-dimensional taxonomy or set of categories that groups the search results according to the key concepts of the information found. When you enter a search ProFind intelligently classifies its search results into these dynamic categories. The clever bit is the way that it does this by analysing the information it has found and reducing it to an evenly populated set of categories.

With the categories providing you with an overview of the search results it is much easier to refine your search. Each time you narrow down your search Endeca refines the virtual taxonomy to present only the valid and populated categories.

Endeca ProFind is the second search product that Endeca have released. The first is called InFront and it has proven the same technology by assisting customers to navigate large and complex product catalogues in commercial Web sites. This has been found to be very effective by helping customers find what they need and make better choices faster. Tesco's Online Wine Store and LastMinute are two customers of Endeca where this software can be seen in action.

Endeca can also search structured data using a proprietary meta-relational indexing to navigate the relationship between database records. This will be particularly useful as organisations are starting to see the benefits of combining structured and unstructured data for enterprise applications and management information systems.

Although there are several very clever search engines that can search across different information repositories, the key value of the Endeca ProFind solution is that it is easy and intuitive to use. This is an important characteristic of any search engine when the average user only enters one or two search terms and considers the Boolean operators of AND, OR, NOR and NOT best left to the librarians.

A vendor that can come up with a better search engine is likely to be very successful. Endeca is one vendor that has taken search on to another level that promises to deliver more accurate results with less frustration.

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May. 10,  ISSUE #020
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