Thursday, 13 May 2010

Enterprise Search Summit 2010 summary - day 2

This is my second summarizing post on the excellent Enterprise Search Summit 2010 conference. See my earlier post for a summary of the workshop day, and first full day of the conference.
Day 2 kicked off with an excellent keynote from Peter Morville of Information Architecture (for the WWW), Ambient Findability and Search Patterns fame. I have seen Peter speak before, and I am a bit of a 'fan boy' of his work, but I will not summarize his keynote here as Peter put his slides up on, so I will just embed them below:

Next up after Peter was a panel discussion "In search of search" led by Sue Feldman of IDC. The panel consisted of:
  • Haroon Suleman, Lead Enterprise Search Architect, Mercer
  • Jim Cassella, Manager, Global Application Architecture and Strategy, Colorcon, Inc
  • Michael Mills, Management Consultant, Kraft & Kennedy, Inc
This was an excellent discussion, but with a representative from a large professional services firm (Mercer), one from a law firm, and one from a large supplier to the pharmaceutical industry, I felt that they we were definately representing the high end of enterprise search, i.e. industries which "get it" and which make my poor old retail organization pale into insignificance where it comes to information management in general and search particularly. Takeaways from this discussion on running a search procurement and implementation included:
  • the tension between user requirements for a single point of access to all information and the reality of 12 major repositories with 15 different search applications (!)
  • The problems with security and the new search engines allowing 'un-secured' content to be found in inappropriate circumstances
  • The importance of getting a preferred vendor to do a Proof Of Concept with your data (not their own test sets), but acknowledging that you should pay for such a POC
  • Sue noted that is not really about "digital natives versus digital immigrants" but its more about the value proposition and ease of use, especially for the very busy senior execs
  • Pervasive search analytics - search meets BI
  • Social networking in many enterprises is EMAIL ! Therefore be prepared to search it, and 'social graph' it.
  • E-discovery is now a bigger industry sector than enterprise search, but work on e-discovery tools soon works its way back into mainstream enterprise search technology
Security came up again and again in this discussion and in the questions asked by the audience. In sophisticated environments, such as law firms where 'security by exception' is the norm, the search vendors tools are often lacking in their ability to provide security trimming of results sets that can cope with the requirements.

Next up was Jeannine Bartlett presenting Early and Associates 'SIX' Metrics frameworks. SIX stands for
Search Integration eXperience. I am not going to expand much on this session as its their proprietary methodology - but it was a very interesting session, so if your interested, give them a call !

After some more networking at lunch time, and I have to tell you the networking with fellow practitioners is an excellent reason to attend this conference, my first afternoon session was one being presented by my very last consulting client, Statistics Canada. Kathy and her colleague Andrea presented on the StatsCan journey, on how they have gained senior stakeholder buy-in and executive sponsorship, how they undertook a phased program of analysis and tactical upgrades to their search environment, and how this has paid off for them. Their user community is now reporting much greater 'customer satisfaction' and that is not just based on their small improvements to their Ultraseek environment and their user interface work. It also based on their back end work on sorting out metadata and content collections etc. Check out the StatsCan specialized search tools page and note that they include considerable help content and e-tutorials. Just one question though Kathy - how come Martin got his name on your slides but I didn't ? .......... :-)

My final session of the conference was "Sustainable search at Du Pont" by Alicia Shortlidge. Alicia has been involved with search at her company for ten years, and described herself as search team manager, project manager , search sys admin and developer ! Out of a central App Development Consulting Group team of ten, only Alicia and one colleague are full time dedicated to search, and yet they have built 18 specific 'search applications' on the same search tool platform (my notes seem to suggest Recommind again, but they are a bit scribbled !) which all use the same index. They are basically specific search applications for single major business units, developed to meet special customer requirements (under a charge back model). They also use a Google GSA for their intranet. Currently they have Librarians manually tagging content with metadata, but hope to move to an auto-classification model, freeing up the Librarians to do more effect QA / QC on the automated tagging.

Security was a big issue again, with the use of the search engine as a 'security audit tool' - turning it on and finding stuff in unsecured and inappropriate repositories.

I missed the closing keynote, having to set off for La Guardia, but I have the slides from "The future of Enterprise Search' by Leslie Owens of Forrester. To qoute from her very first slide:
The broad category of enterprise search is dead. Today's knowledge workers demand role-specific, contextual search, wherever they work."

So, there you go: 'Enterprise search is dead, long live, erm..... enterprise search...?"

No, seriously, I see her point and I understand. Nothing stands still in enterprise informatics, and the nature of enterprise search is morphing. I think Forrester will let me show you a graphic from one of Leslie's slides showing their interpretation of
Unified Information Access:
OK, so I like the general concept here, structured data and unstructured content brought together by connections and processes of search and retrieval. However I will have to do some more reading of Forrester's content before commenting further, but what do you think of this ? Use the comments section to let me know.

So, in summary Enterprise Search Summit 2010 was an excellent conference with good sessions and even more so, some excellent networking opportunities with very intelligent practitioners; Ed, David, Jami and Christina, amongst others, thanks for improving my knowledge ! Lets not forget the vendors who attended, who were all very happy to discuss their products and search in general. I have to say, based on the other attendee's I spoke to, Microsoft if your reading, you missed an opportunity by not having any FAST people attending (although there seemed to be a surfeit of ex-FAST people !).

If you interested in the subjects around enterprise search and missed last weeks conference, take a look at the Enterprise Search Summit Fall, taking place in mid November in Washington DC, I can thoroughly recommend it :-)


Kathy said...

Sorry, Jed, I certainly missed an opportunity to acknowledge your support! For those reading this now, I hereby avow that giving our search more prominence was a major theme of Jed's much appreciated report on our search last summer, before he moved to the corp. Thanks for promoting us at ESS too--did you really call us a poster child??

Jed Cawthorne said...

Kathy - I was only jesting ! Honest.... :-)

Yes I do indeed describe Statistics Canada as a 'poster child' for search governance and management. I know its absolutely key to your business, but your are sensibly resourced, with a good governance process and the ability to move forward in well planned phases - many of the people we talked to at ESS would be lucky to have such an environment ! "Federal Gov. gets something right" - sounds like an Ottawa Citizen headline to me.... :-)