Helen Mitchell, Principal at Enterprising Solutions with over 30 years of experience at FDA leading one of the largest enterprise search implementations among Civilian Federal Agencies, recently produced a webinar for SLA. The 43 slides and the slide transcript for the webinar, Federated Search in a Disparate Environment, are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

Slide 4 gives the agenda:

  1. Terms Clarified
  2. Types of Federated Search (FS)
  3. FS Challenges & Benefits
  4. FDA Case Study
  5. FS Evaluation Criteria
  6. Examples of FS Solutions
  7. Live Federated Search Demo
  8. Best Practices
  9. Future Vision
  10. Questions & Answers

The webinar is about federated search in an enterprise environment, a topic that’s not covered very frequently. Most discussions of federated search revolve around the needs of libraries, often academic ones, so it was refreshing to view this webinar. Unlike many slide shows, Mitchell provides enough detail in her slides that one can actually follow her ideas from them. This is a good thing because there’s a good amount of detail in this somewhat introductory somewhat technical presentation.

I appreciated the reference to the AIIM study on findability (slide 7), which I wrote about in this blog. The gist of the study is that a large number of enterprise folks don’t believe that nearly enough of their content is findable. This leads to a discussion, in slide 8, of a number of ways that federated search makes corporate information more findable. This slide alone is a good reminder that relying only on content that is indexed does not allow for comprehensive searching.

Slides 10 and 11, a little overwhelming at first glance, show the differences in how humans perform research with and without federated search. Nothing surprising here to those in the industry but the differences are well illustrated.

It was nice to see a number of slides on different flavors of federated search, namely federated ‘master index’ search (slide 12), federated data silos search (slide 13), vertical search engines (slide 15) and semantic federated search (slide 33.) Again, good illustrations.

There’s an excellent in-depth discussion (slides 17-19) of the challenges of federated search that covers thirteen major issues. I’ve not seen such a focused list elsewhere. There’s an equally thorough discussion (slides 20 and 21) of the benefits to balance the pros-and-cons conversation.

What does Mitchell see as the future of federated search? Slides 37 and 38 reveal her vision. Here are the headlines; see the slides for more detail.

  1. Personalized Search
  2. Better Quality of Search Results
  3. Enterprise Mashups
  4. Users build the index by their searching
  5. Query analysis & predictive modeling on the fly
  6. Improved Navigators, Facets, Clustering
  7. Web of Interconnected Data
  8. Visualization Technologies

All in all, this presentation is definitely one of the better ones I’ve seen on federated search, especially in the enterprise.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 at 12:15 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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