Intranet Focus Ltd (1999-2022) to SearchResearch Online (2023-?)

Welcome to my new web site, blog and role. Intranet Focus Ltd no longer exists though my email address will remain the same and for the time being I will continue to Tweet as Intranet Focus.

I started tracking developments in search technology in the mid-1970s when remote access information services such as Lockheed Dialog and SDC Orbit arrived in the UK. From the start of Intranet Focus Ltd. in September 1999 it became clear that every intranet project was also going to be a search project. By the late 2000’s my project balance started to shift from intranet + search to primarily about specifying, selecting and optimizing enterprise search applications.

It also became clear from the launch of BERT by Google in 2019 that search was going to get very much more complicated and potentially very much more powerful – though that statement rather depends on what you mean by ‘powerful’. Although I have been blogging and writing on search for a couple of decades I decided towards the end of last year that it was time to launch search-specific blog with the objective of interpreting research on search for search practitioners, especially those working with enterprise search, e-commerce and professional search applications.

Now of course ChatGPT from OpenAI (and in particular the initiatives by Microsoft to capitalize on its investment in OpenAI) have completely shaken up the search business and caused us to reconsider what we mean by ‘search’.

There is very little published research on enterprise search. At best there are probably around ten papers, compared to perhaps 100,000 on information retrieval and web search dating back to the mid-1950s. I already have a collection of almost 3000 research papers and theses on information retrieval, AI/ML (in the context of search) and a number of related disciplines such as information management and knowledge management.

With so little published on enterprise search (for reasons that I’ll comment on in a future blog) vendors of AI search solutions are promoting the benefits of AI/ML/LLM solutions without seemingly any understanding the requirements and challenges of enterprise search. In writing my blogs I hope to be able to impart what I have learned from around 90 projects, numerous conferences and workshops in Europe and the USA, and many off-the-record discussions. That does not mean to say I am right all the time! In the enterprise search business you quickly learn what is scalable and transferrable to other projects and what is unique to the perspective of an individual client and their information management culture.

This blog starts from January 2020 with all the search blogs from Intranet Focus having been migrated to SearchResearch.Online.  If you have any suggestions for the scope of the blog or about the range of resources I monitor there is a Comments box on the home page. I must emphasis that I am not able to make copies of research papers available. Where possible I will cite open access research but that is not always feasible.

Martin White, Principal Analyst