Compounding matters, enterprises typically have multiple search engines embedded in various applications -- for instance, one in a content management system, one in the Microsoft Office environment, and another in an e-mail program. The ESP transcends these search-engine silos and corresponding data repositories and imposes syntax translation and other linguistic manipulations, such as spell-check and phrase detection, on the query prior to crawling the data stores.
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Endeca offers a technology that combines search with what it calls Guided Navigation. Here, a keyword search generates a search directory on the fly, which users can employ to drill down to progressively refined results.
According to Delphi Group’s Reynolds, creating an effective search interface for the enterprise user involves “knowledge-driven search applications” tailored to the business domain of the staffer.
“In order to achieve real accuracy, the search software has to be tuned to understand the context in which I’m working,” Reynolds says. “It’s a business-process-centered development strategy, so that you’re looking at a platform from the perspective of its ability to be tailored to specific users.”
Reynolds adds that Autonomy and FAST already prepackage offerings in the compliance, call center, market intelligence, and financial arenas. Verity offers multiple application templates as well. With this kind of tailored search interface, when financial brokers type “bonds” into a query, they never have to set eyes on a document related to glue.
FAST’s Marketrac layers an application on top of the ESP, which amounts to a search-powered interface that can access e-mail content, news feeds, competitor’s Web site content, and database content in a CRM. Moreover, the platform’s categorization facilities enable knowledge workers to explore content through patterns of meaning or subject matter.
Meanwhile, Google is taking a different approach with its enterprise offering, the Google Search Appliance (see our Test Center Review). It puts behind the firewall much of the successful technology that powers its public product, taking plug and play to new heights. In other words, the appliance is basically a search engine, not a comprehensive platform.