Search is the key to everything

Tools


As we see the proliferation of services on the Internet with ever-growing stores of content, whether it's Spotify, Twitter or something else, the key to finding information is going to depend on the quality of the search tool the service uses--and it's an area I've found generally lacking.

I've become fond of using Spotify, for example, which has vast stores of music. All you need to do is search for an artist or a song and you should be able to find it, but I've found when looking for something specific (rather than just an artist name), I enter a song name only to find I can't find the one by that name I'm looking for. If I search by artist I have to cycle through the entire catalogue to find the one song I want. It's often a frustrating task.

Twitter is an even tougher nut to crack. Try searching by subject, hashtag or user and you are typically overrun with information, leaving it nearly impossible to get at that one tweet you know you want.

And if you have an Internet-TV connection box like Roku or Apple TV, you may want to search for a single movie, and you have to use each individual service's (rather bad) search tools to find it. Wouldn't it be so much easier to be able to search across the various collections and come back with a set of possibilities that you can use to narrow down what you want to watch?

And this is the same battle that users often fight in the enterprise using today's enterprise search tools. You have these various collections of data that are not unlike the services on Roku. You don't want to open your enterprise equivalent of Netflix, Hulu and Crackle to find the one show you want to see. You want to search across various repositories and get back a set of manageable results.

In the case of the enterprise, we may know that the content is out there somewhere across the vast stores of information, but finding that one document you need may be not be that easy. Sometimes this is a known document and sometimes it's one that you are hoping is there.

Regardless of the quality of these search tools--and some are quite good, mind you--it seems that search vendors are suddenly quite the rage. As you are no doubt aware, just recently, HP bought Autonomy--which is of course far more than a pure search player--for a whopping $10 billion. Oracle followed up by scooping up Endeca. And there's a very good reason or that.

My guess is both companies have hopes of trying to help organizations get some semblance of control of the growing amounts of information in the enterprise. That's because they recognize what I've discovered on my consumer services, and that's the service can be great, and Spotify and Twitter are great services, but the key to my happiness is often finding information.

It's also the key in the enterprise, and until companies solve this dilemma, whether it's on consumer or enterprise services, the quality of the information doesn't really matter if you can't find it.

Search it seems is the key to the problem. - Ron