Last updated (Comments): 10 July 2013
On the 30th May 2013, I attended the Findability Day 2013 (findabilityday2013-esli.eventbrite.com) organized by Findwise (www.findwise.com). The gathering of about 200 participants took place in Central Stockholm (Odenplan) in a sunny day, in bright and spacious conference rooms, and in friendly and laid-off atmosphere. The event – “the biggest event on search and findability in Northern Europe”, as the subtitle says – was free of charge (only registration was required) and was sponsored by Google and Splunk.
I will not give a complete debrief of the Findability Day 2013 in this post. Martin White has summarized the highlights in his blog (http://www.intranetfocus.com/?p=1295), and Olof Belfrage describes in more details the presentations in a post (http://www.findwise.com/blog/impressions-from-findability-day-2013/) published on Findwise blog.
In this post I would like to summarize a few points that, in my opinion, are important for the future of search and information discovery. These points were neatly listed by Martin White, the first speaker.
In his presentation, Martin firmly stressed that (enterprise) search should not be seen in isolation. He encouraged a closer interaction of three fields that have overlapping areas and many intersections, namely Enterprise Search (ES), Information Retrieval (IR) and Information Science (IS).
At present, ES is mostly unaware of what IR and Text Analytics are doing and has not yet taken into consideration of including, for example, sentiment analysis as a way of enriching search information, says Martin. That’s an excellent point, I think. I also see a gap in current search applications. If you have hints, suggestions or pointers on this topic, please give me a shout. My personal experiments in this area can be found in the following post: How emotional are query logs (http://www.forum.santini.se/2013/01/emotion-needs/).
Search is an irreplaceable compass that helps orientate in many fields. For example, search can be seen as a way of guiding information discovery. However, Martin states, one cannot think of fixing search and automatically get out valuable information, just like magic. Search must be shaped and moulded for information discovery, if this the specific focus. The same is true when using search for structuring Big Unstructured Data. For instance, where is strategic information in petabytes of unstructured text when doing Business Intelligence (BI)? Simple search is not enough (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_intelligence). Traditional BI dashboards are still leaking… Investments are needed in research on search to hunt the treasure buried in the big data. New ways of creating metadata and taxonomies, of handling interoperability should be sought after with more determination and open-mindness.
Searching for entities, connecting people via content across mobile enterprise search are the next actions that cannot be missed, says Martin. He sees a big potential in delivering search against documents on all devices, e.g. smart phones, tablets and PCs, which should also be enabled to print search results and relevant documents (print functionalities are currently overlooked in mobile applications).
Another field where search can play an important role is stream analytics. Stream analytics focuses on how to monitor what is going on in a organisation. Why searching only you own content? Search the whole ecosystem instead (of course, search with permission!) IR research has recently presented Streamz (http://www.research.ibm.com/haifa/dept/imt/papers/guyCIKM12.pdf) and Jane McCornell is working on the concept of Digital Workplace (http://www.digital-workplace-trends.com/), a framework that empowers people by connecting everybody within an organization.
Martin gives big praise to the recent book on search “Designing the Search Experience” by Tony Russell-Rose and Tyler Tate (http://designingthesearchexperience.com/), apparently “the best book on search so far”, with many use cases and with a special focus on usability.
Search is “incredibly modular”, is Martin’s final statement, and search should definitely include content analytics in all its forms, e.g. text analytics, sentiment analysis, social media monitoring and the many more things that can be found “under the bonnet”. The convergence of search and text analytics & co. is definitely a corner stone for next-generation (enterprise) search engines, emphasizes Martin White.
Well, my views on search are basically on the same lines as Martin’s…
I would be interested in getting different views on the future and/or the needs of search. Your opinion is much appreciated…
Thanks to Findwise for the nice event!
IMPORTANT: almost all of the presentations have now been made available. To view the videos and slides, go to Findwise’ resources page.
You can also download some of the presentations if you click the links below: