Enterprise Search Summit 2013 – conference report

No sooner had Enterprise Search Europe finished than I was on a plane to New York for the Enterprise Search Summit, another Information Today production. With over 50 speakers and more than 20 exhibitors (including HP Autonomy) the event was on a much larger scale than the London version, even more so because there was a concurrent Big Data Bootcamp. It was probably the Boot Camp that attracted both HP and SAP to be in the exhibition area but it may have divided the audience as there were papers on Big Data in both events.

Despite the difference in size the themes in New York were very similar to those in London, in particular the pros and cons of SharePoint 2013. Jeff Fried (BA Insight) ran an excellent workshop on this topic and there were several papers in the main conference, all of which sparked some lively discussions in and between sessions. There were some very good search implementations papers, including Ed Dale and Theresa Simek (Ernst and Young), Ben Johnson (Deloitte), Barbara Peters and Leslie Connors (Pfizer) and April Lewis (Oak Ridge National Laboratory).

I was especially interested in a short session on how to locate staff expertise. Kas Kasravi presented a very interesting account of how HP has approached the problem and Jeff Fried talked about a number of different approaches that have been tried over the years. The HP solution is certainly elegant but to me it fails to address the problem of how long it can take for staff new to HP to be highlighted by the application.

Sadly one of the underlying themes of the event was the lack of resources to support search development. The 2013 Findwise Findability survey, presented by Helge Legernes, again highlighted the fact that the majority of organisations struggle to appoint even one person full time to search support even though all the evidence in the survey points to an increasing gap between increasing volumes of business-critical information and a decrease in the ability of employees to find this information.

The two conferences provided me with a wealth of good case stories (often shared quietly over a coffee!) and many new friends. My next stop is the Findwise Findability Day in Stockholm on 30 May.  

Martin White