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Market Trends - Enterprise Search:  Three Trends for 2004

An increasingly mature market and set of technologies are combining to create three trends in the enterprise search sector:

From Universality to Specialization

In the early 00s, a number of search companies offered both Web and enterprise search -- for example, Ask Jeeves, FAST, and Inktomi.  By 2003, this had changed.  Inktomi sold its enterprise search business to Verity in November 2002 and then the remainder of its business to Yahoo! a month later. In 2003, Ask Jeeves sold its enterprise search unit to Kanisa while FAST sold its Web search business to Overture and acquired AltaVista's enterprise search business.

This drive towards specialization is visible in vendors' offerings as well.  Rather than claiming they can perform all types of search equally well, suppliers are tuning their products for applications such as e-Commerce (EasyAsk, Endeca, Mercado) and travel (iPhrase, TripleHop Technologies).

From Text Box Entry to Navigational Clicking

Back in the mid-90s, AltaVista (and now Google) trained everyone to enter a keyword into a text box and expect thousands of hyperlinks in return.  However, this exclusively text-box-as-input mode is starting to fade, as both vendors and enterprises realize that search is a form of navigation, and that clicking on navigation trees is OK too.  This is especially true in enterprise search, where the search universe is constrained, certainly compared to Web search.  Therefore, when a user searches for "pink blouse," for example, a number of vendors now offer not only hyperlinks for pink blouses, but a set of filtered results for later exploration -- e.g., red blouses, white blouses, cotton blouses, pink t-shirts, etc.

From Searching to Analysis

Three years ago, enterprise search vendors were just trying to get their applications purchased and installed.  Delivering the application was the top priority, not analyzing how the application was used.

This is changing, as enterprises recognize that part of the value of deploying enterprise search is understanding why and where it fails.  Are users looking for products that the company does not carry, or using search terms that differ from the company's nomenclature -- "laptop" instead of "notebook," for example?  Vendors are responding to this desire for better search analytics by developing reports on failed search terms and categorizing search queries.  One vendor, Mondosoft, has even specialized in offering search analytics.

August 2004

© 2004, Ballardvale Research. All rights reserved. Reproduction without the express written consent of Ballardvale Research is strictly prohibited. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect the analystís judgment at the time and are subject to change.


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