Improving Results

By Dennis Callaghan  |  Posted 2004-04-09 Print this article Print

Google began testing a personalized search capability at its Google Labs site late last month. Such a technology could someday make its way to the enterprise appliance, Girouard said. "We definitely look at technologies on Google, and were looking at that, but I wouldnt expect anything soon," he said. "We vet new technologies with a lot of people on the public site before we build it into the appliance."
Gmail, Googles new Web-based e-mail service, which has enflamed privacy advocates since its rollout last month, also could have enterprise implications, though Girouard wouldnt tip his hat there, either.
"There are still some really hard problems with enterprise search yet to be solved," he said. "So, search is our No. 1 priority. E-mail is interesting to us, but its not something were planning right now. Well evaluate it over time. "Enterprise search still does not work that well today. We understand the problem and are uniquely qualified to solve it. Well do that first." Girouard said enterprise search technology has not kept up with Web search technology, which he blamed on enterprise search vendors trying to diversify into other areas. "Search results in most cases arent all that good," he said. "The traditional vendors arent doing anything to fix that because theyve diversified into 10 other things. So, while Web search has improved a ton, enterprise search hasnt. "Its easier to find box scores from a baseball game in 1957 than it is to find last quarters sales presentation. Employees and Web site visitors cant find the information theyre looking for, so the adoption and usage rates of search are low." Enterprise search is mainly sold today as part of larger document and knowledge management or customer service offerings. Web search engine companies that tried to bring their technologies to the enterprise have a spotty record. Inktomi Corp. sold its unprofitable enterprise search business to Verity Inc. late in 2002, a month before selling its Web search business to Yahoo Inc. for more than nine times as much. AskJeeves Inc. discarded its money-losing enterprise search business to customer service software developer Kanisa Inc. last year to focus on its profitable Web search business. NorthernLight Technology LLC eliminated its Web search service to focus on enterprise search in January 2002. Weeks later, it was acquired by doomed e-business consolidator Divine Inc., which declared bankruptcy and liquidated its assets last year. NorthernLight of Cambridge, Mass., has since re-emerged as an independent company focusing on enterprise search, portal and content integration technologies mainly geared to market and business research. Next Page: The software ought to be able to deal with the content as it exists, Girouard says.


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