Enterprise Search Hype: An Example

January 5, 2009
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I was going through my alerts this morning for enterprise search and found this nugget in an interview with an enterprise search executive (the interview is easy to find on the web):

What is the basis of your firm’s technical approach?

XXX provides a highly scalable and manageable information access platform built on open standards. XXX transforms raw data, whatever its nature, into actionable intelligence through best of breed indexing, extractio

I was going through my alerts this morning for enterprise search and found this nugget in an interview with an enterprise search executive (the interview is easy to find on the web):

What is the basis of your firm’s technical approach?

XXX provides a highly scalable and manageable information access platform built on open standards. XXX transforms raw data, whatever its nature, into actionable intelligence through best of breed indexing, extraction and classification technologies.

The term “information access platform” has become standard enough, but it tells us nothing about the company’s technical approach. “Highly scalable and manageable”? Again, these are neither specific nor informative about the approach. In fact, the only thing we learn about the company’s technical approach is that it uses open standards, and we don’t even hear which ones. And perhaps it is unfair to single out this company, since I’ve seen similar content-free descriptions across the industry.

But compare that to how I answered Ron Miller in a recent one-on-one:

What is the differentiator for Endeca search?

Endeca combines a set-oriented retrieval approach with user interaction to create an interactive dialogue, offering next steps or refinements to help guide users to the results most relevant for their unique needs. An Endeca-powered application responds to a query with not just relevant results, but with an overview of the user’s current context and an organized set of options for incremental exploration.

I’m not claiming that my answer is complete–it is hard to go deep in a short interview. But I at least tried to explain *what* Endeca does, rather than just concatenate buzz words. A litmus test is that you could not pick another enteprise search vendor name out of a hat and substitute it into that paragraph.

As I posted the other day, the enterprise search market is beset by marketing and hype. There are lots of folks to blame for this set of affairs, but we who are selling enterprise search technology have a particular responsiblity for emphasizing reality over hype. Let’s keep it real.

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