A decade of search implementation – some lessons learned

For reasons I have no need to disclose Vic Lyte, Head of Technology Services, Mimas, University of Manchester is not able to give his presentation at Enterprise Search Europe on 16 May.  At short notice finding a direct replacement has not been possible, so you will find that I am now a speaker at the event as well as being Conference Chairman. The title of my paper is the same as the title of this blog. I will be looking back at more than a decade of search implementation projects, starting with the International Monetary Fund in 2001 and including the World Bank, the Open University, Deloitte, UNAIDS, and most recently University College London.  Each of these projects has highlighted aspects of search implementation for  internal enterprise search and often web site search as well, such as defining user requirements, developing a search strategy, selecting a vendor and improving the quality of search performance.  I’ll also be using a few examples from the web sites of high profile companies where search implementation seems not to have been fully thought through!

It’s been quite an interesting month as regards search. In early April I gave two presentations to open a virtual search summit set up by a major IT services company that is planning to increase the range of its search offerings to its customers. The first presentation was about the current state of search implementation and the second was on what I see as some of the important trends in search technology. The session, which I participated in from a tutorial room at the iSchool, University of Sheffield, lasted over two hours, including a very interesting Q&A session. A few days later I was in London to give a keynote on the intersection of Big Data and enterprise search at a seminar organised by Comperio. The slide set is posted on Slide Share. Again there was a very lively Q&A, with quite a number of questions about how to get more awareness about the value of search in an organisation.

Then a few days ago a large box was delivered to the office door. It turned out to be from O’Reilly Media and was a framed version of the cover of my book Enterprise Search to add to the collection on the walls of my office. I thought that this was a really nice gesture and showed a level of interest in an author that I find is often sadly lacking after a book is published.  I’m currently in the process of revising and expanding the book for a second edition that will hopefully emerge in November this year.  There will be new chapters on enhancing the user experience of search, search for small organisations and  mobile search as well as expansions and revisions to the existing chapters.

I’m now looking forward not only to Enterprise Search Europe on 14-16 May but the Enterprise Search Summit in New York on 20-22 May and the Findwise Findability Day in Stockholm on 30 May.

Martin White