Highspot Brings Machine Learning to Enterprise Search

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-03-19 Print this article Print

Highspot automatically brings the latest and most relevant information to users' attention. It enables users to browse in context for the information they need. It also features information genomics to enable users to follow information as it evolves and track documents as they mutate.

"With the rocket growth of our business we were creating content faster than anyone could keep up," said Forest Key, CEO of buuteeq, in a statement. "And with our team more than doubling each year on boarding new people was a huge challenge. Highspot lets us capture our important information and expertise in a way that makes it easy for everyone to find it and leverage it."

Parallels, a provider of hosting and cloud services enablement and cross-platform solutions, also is an early Highspot customer. Parallels is a global business with customers in over 130 countries. "Keeping our leadership and our sales, support, and engineering teams equipped with the latest information was a constant challenge," said John Zanni, chief marketing officer at Parallels, in a statement. "Highspot easily gets the most relevant information into people's hands when they need it and helps our marketing team focus on the content that matters."

Wahbe said enterprise search is estimated to be an $8 billion market. "We believe we are the first to tackle this in the enterprise," he said. The company's focus on frontier foundations such as marketing, sales and engineering represent a sweet spot for the service, he said. "Sales and marketing produce about half of the content coming out of an enterprise. Engineering produces a large amount of content as well, in the form of things like process guidelines, coding guidelines, documentation and more. We feel like this is a very horizontal solution."

Moreover, Wahbe said Highspot has amassed a "world-class" team. In addition to Wahbe, who is a pedigreed entrepreneur and engineer, the rest of the team also has chops. Viola was Distinguished Engineer and general manager of the Relevance and Revenue team for Microsoft Bing. His team controlled and improved all the key algorithms that interpret user queries and create the search results page for Bing. And he holds 35 patents in the areas of advanced machine learning, web search, data mining, and image processing.

Oliver Sharp, the company’s vice president of product, served in a number of roles at Microsoft, including general manager of strategy for the Server and Tools Division, general manager of the Connected Server Team, and a staff role for Bill Gates. Scott Gellock, Highspot’s vice president of engineering, was general manager of engineering for the Identity and Networking Services of the Windows Azure platform. And David Wortendyke, the company’s chief architect, was partner architect for Windows Azure, where he drove the design and architecture of security and messaging services.

Highspot runs on the Amazon Web Services cloud. "We run the service on AWS and it is based on a proven, open-source stack," Wahbe said. Machine learning is very compute intensive, he added.

"Open source is both a business and strategic decision," Wahbe said. "There is so much innovation going on in the open source world."

The service runs on Linux and uses open source components such as MongoDB, Apache Kafka, Solr and Lucene with much of the system written in Clojure, which Viola says is "a good language for data science."

"The notion of bringing machine learning to knowledge management is really quite pioneering; it's frontier," Wahbe said. "Machine learning is going to revolutionize business apps generally."

Hopefully, coming out of the blocks early with a machine learning solution for enterprise search can provide Highspot with an adequate head start.

When Wahbe was at Microsoft, one of the efforts he led was a software modeling project known as "Oslo." Ironically, Wahbe's new role appears to counter a new Microsoft "Oslo" initiative that is working to bring machine learning to the company’s Office platform.


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