What are the market forces that are driving vendors in the search industry (not just federated search?) John Harney explored this question in a November 3rd KMWorld article, The evolving federation of search. Here’s a piece of Harney’s answer:
The short answer is the phenomenal proliferation of information across the global enterprise; the disparate locations of that data—common applications like SharePoint, IBM Lotus Notes, SAP, as well as apps unique to the organization like shared and network drives; and the types of data—structured and unstructured. But that said, what’s key to the new techniques is that their applications and vertical markets are also almost limitless and don’t require the user to change legacy applications and formats to get at legacy information. Adapters to different apps solve that problem.
I heartily agree with Harney’s assessment: The ability to federate content without the content owner needing to change its interface has always been a tremendous power that federated search provides.
Beyond information proliferation Harney considers other factors driving search:
- The need for e-discovery strategies
- The need to search documents of many types
- The need for new search architectures to search both content and data in an elegant way
- The need to handle both structured and unstructured information
- Data intensive vertical markets: finance, insurance, oil, gas, and utilities industries
Federated search is becoming more important especially in these economic times when businesses are trying to squeeze more revenue from their business systems. Harney articulates the increasing need for sophisticated search quite well:
Gone are the days of onerous manual indexing and sorting through near misses in the search results set. Search has become more prolific in its scope but also laser-like in its focus. The two capabilities add up to a prodigious information management tool that provides immediate ROI in areas as diverse as improved employee productivity and better B2C e-commerce.
I’m only touching on a few of the points of the article, and very lightly at that. Check it out for yourself. It’s a very worthwhile read.