As individuals, search has become a way of life when accessing the Web on the public Internet. To Google has become a part of the language. Corporate users of portals and content management systems are also familiar with using search tools to locate the business content they need in their jobs. In this case, however, generic searching doesn't work, and instead developers have to create business taxonomies that can be used to personalize search results to each person's role in the organization.
Google has not been as successful in the enterprise users as it has with consumers. This is because it has lagged behind competitors in providing tools for taxonomy development, content categorization, and personalized search. Google also faces strong competition in this area from database and content management vendors like IBM and Oracle. Nevertheless, Google is improving its enterprise presence through its Google Search Appliance and Google OneBox Enterprise Initiative.
The business intelligence (BI) market has largely ignored the use of search techniques for accessing business information, analytics and reports. Instead, BI vendors have relied on familiar browsing and navigation techniques to locate business content. In some cases, BI vendors have provided portal-like capabilities, or have provided connections to enterprise portal products. Mostly this support is mere lip service to satisfy RFP requirements. Microsoft and SAP are notable exceptions here. Both vendors market their own portal products and realize the benefits of a business process and workflow approach to working with business content. Search is an important component of this approach. Most other BI vendors, however, remain locked in their data-centric mindset.
Some BI vendors are beginning to see the light. In the last few months Cognos, Information Builders and SAS have all announced relationships with Google to add search to their products. Of course, as I have already pointed out, organizations need more than search, they also need to add BI taxonomy development and content categorization. Data and text mining technology should help here. IBM's work in this area shows promise, and it is interesting to note that Cognos has also announced a relationship with IBM in this area.
Some vendors are obviously confused about this direction. Seth Grimes in his latest Intelligent Enterprise article "Will Search Deliver Better BI" reports that James Thomas of product marketing at Business Objects stated that "the concept of BI portals has always been a failure. Portals are about controlling information. Google is about embracing freedom." Business Objects clearly doesn't understand that portals, search and BI need to work synergistically together. There is no question in my mind that all BI developers in the future will need to become familiar with portal, search, taxonomy, and categorization techniques.
Posted June 30, 2006 12:17 PM
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