Enterprise search in the EU – a techno-economic analysis

In 2011 I was awarded a contract by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (an institute of the European Commission) to undertake a study of the level of adoption of enterprise search in the EU and the factors that might influence the rate of future adoption. This involved both desk research and many interviews with users, vendors and integrators across the EU. A Delphi study was carried out on the future demand for new search technologies and finally a draft report was subject to a two-day review by a panel of experts. For various reasons the publication of the final report did not take place until last month but this did enable a further round of validation to take place at an EU search conference in Brussels in 2012, and there was an opportunity to update some of the industry developments that had taken place since mid-2011.

One of the requirements of the contract was to assess the installed base of search applications in the EU and this turned out to be a very considerable challenge. Only a few vendors were willing to provide installed base information and company financial performance details but with the assistance of my co-author Dr Stavri Nikolov (who was also the project manager) we managed to develop at least a partial picture of the current market situation.

What emerged from the research was that there was very little awareness of the benefits of enterprise search. The majority of search vendors do not have the financial resources to invest in large scale marketing and sales campaigns and it was not until the launch of Enterprise Search Europe in 2011 that there was conference and exhibition specifically for enterprise search managers. It was also clear from the research that there was a significant shortage of people with skills and experience in enterprise search technology and management. This is mainly a result of no undergraduate courses in enterprise search in the EU and the post-graduate courses are focused mainly on research and not search management.

It was a fascinating study to undertake and I learned much from the experience. Out of it came my book on enterprise search and The Search Circle information service for search managers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Stavri Nikolov (now at Immaga) for being an exceptionally supportive project manager, and also Shara Monteleone, Ramon Compaño and Ioannis Maghiros at IPTS for their work in setting up the review meetings and in managing the publication of the report.

Martin White