A recent article at Forbes.com, Why Google isn’t Enough, caught my attention. The article looks at limitations of Google in the enterprise. Here’s the gist of the article:

… the problem of using search inside a company is much more complicated than just indexing documents, throwing up a search box and asking people if they feel lucky.

The article goes on to raise the concern that installing a search appliance in the enterprise, from Google or some other vendor, may lead to disappointment. Several reasons are cited for the disappointment. Here are two important ones:

First, and most important, Internet search is built on the link network that constitutes the Web. … In the enterprise, there is no corresponding link structure and the quality of the results suffer.


… the biggest difference is that when you are searching in the enterprise, you might not exactly know what you’re looking for. Your desire is frequently not to find a particular piece of information but to explore the collection of available knowledge and find out what’s there.

I was delighted to read this article because, (1) it was written by an influential publication, Forbes, and, (2) it reinforces the points I’ve been making for a while: performing enterprise search effectively is very different than performing consumer search. In relation to federated search in the enterprise, the federated search vendors should really understand the fundamental differences in search requirements in the corporation.

Here are some of the related articles I’ve written:

  • The trouble with general search engines

    “A 2006 study by Outsell reported a 31.9 percent failure rate among business users when researching topics using the major search engines. A separate study from Convera shows that professionals in virtually every industry are having trouble finding important work-related information on the major search engines.”

  • You can’t find it if it’s not findable

    “Findability has been a common source of frustration in the enterprise for decades,” states AIIM Vice President Carl Frappaolo. “As information has become more and more digital, from it’s creation through to management, the pain of finding enterprise information has moved from the piles of paper on the desktop and in storage cabinets, to the digital landfill of file servers, e-mail inboxes, digital desktops, and content management systems. Despite the advances made in search on the internet, enterprise search leaves most users frustrated.”

  • Federated search in the enterprise

    … the popular search engines perform full text searches of unstructured text but enterprise content is much more structured than content in the Internet at large, it often contains fielded data in databases, and it is often hierarchically organized. Federated search vendors that want to sell into the enterprise need to consider this important difference.

  • CIL federated search white papers of vendor offerings

    “Taming Multiple Search Engines in Your Organization,” by Jean Bedord, is the final white paper. Bedord, a search consultant, analyst and faculty lecturer, explores the question of how to manage multiple search engines in the enterprise — federated or not. Interestingly, Bedord argues against giving in to the desire some organizations have of limiting the number of search engines to one.

No, I’m not trying to turn this blog into an enterprise search blog. But, I do want to make the point that there’s a big difference between federated search in the library and Google in the library. Federated search vendors need to understand that more and more users expect the Google experience (fast results, one search box, and for the result they’re looking for to be among the top three.) Also, federated search in the enterprise is very different from federated search in the library. So, I think it’s important to have some awareness of enterprise search.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 2nd, 2008 at 4:31 pm and is filed under viewpoints. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or TrackBack URI from your own site.

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