Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Enterprise Search briefing

Yesterday my colleagues Nicky, Bill and I attended the Butler Groups 'Enterprise Search Briefing' down in London. It was a useful day, a chance for a first chat with Endeca, to renew acquintances with Exalead, and to hear from Sinequa, a french company who just opened their London office this week. Of course Autonomy and Fast were there too, plus Microsoft.

Sarah Burnett of Butler Group did the opening keynote, nice presentation, including work on the 'information value chain' and the importance of search to the average enterprise - but nothing particularily new or innovative really. If you take the often used stat of "information workers" spending on average 20 minutes per day searching for stuff and apply it to the OU's 5000 core staff, thats 1,666 staff hours a day being spent searching for information !

The vendors all provided a customer case study - in summary:
  • Autonomy & Phillips: a reasonably happy customer (?) using the plaftorm for both customer facing internet and intranet use, the later including very large Lotus Notes deployments (yet they are still introducing MOSS 2007 !). Pretty much the usual message - good but complex.
  • FAST & UK Govt. Department of Work and Pensions (DWP): A very happy customer - they have been through 4 search engines in 5 years ! Referenced Martin White and Gerry McGovern- "finding versus searching". Ben from DWP mentioned the nice out-of-the-box MI stats provided by FAST to see what the 40, 000 queries per day are, and where they lead people
  • Microsoft & UK Govt. Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). MS had a session twice as long as everyone else, and Solomon from MS tried to hard to stick to timings, by attempting to focus on the search specifics of the MOSS 2007 platform. However Roger from DEFRA who is obviously a very enthusiastic individual and a happy customer, presented largely on Information and Records Management with not an awful lot of emphasis on enterprise search per se. Personally I would have like more on the specific capabilities of the search facilities in MOSS 2007, but then even Solomon mentioned the deals MS have struck with Autonomy, FAST etc and in the end, search is intrinsicly linked into the wider Informatio Management agenda !
  • Sinequa - no customer present, but they have just moved into the UK market. They have a strong knowledge management focus with some 20 years of academic research and R & D behind them.
A useful day all in all, and I bumped into fellow Documentum customers / users from Linklaters and Cap Gemini, for a good exchange of gossip.

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