Enterprise Search Europe 2011 (#eseu) has come and gone. So what was new and exciting in this first edition in terms of technology? Not much. As stated by many speakers during the conference, Enterprise Search technology is pretty mature now. It has been around for multiple decades and most of the major break throughs have been made. There is always room for some innovation, but the event did not un-cover any ground-breaking research or incredible search improvements.
We had, on the other hand, a lot of lively and interesting speakers. I especially appreciated the talk from Tim Gollins about the challenges faced by the National Archive in the UK with their search implementation and how focusing on their core business needs rather than the technology really helped give their diverse clients a better search experience. Stephen Wicks, CTO of the Gorkana Group, also explained his experience really well with Open Source search software. The cost savings and the freedom given by such a solution seemed to be important deciding factors for him.
As usual Martin White did an incredible job in the multiple discussions, panels, and presentations he was involved with. I quite enjoyed his views on the Future of Search in the European Union.
Laura Wilber also impressed me when presenting the concepts of Search Based Applications (SBA). Not because she was presenting anything new but mostly because of how passionate she was about the subject. I’ve already ordered her book, and I’m really hoping that her energy on stage comes through in her writing.
Although they didn’t demonstrate anything during the conference, I had an opportunity to talk to a representative from Coveo. Version 7 of their software just came out and based on our discussions, I’m really eager to test drive their new platform.
Trends, Upcoming Technologies and Oddities
When visiting an event like this, we always try to understand (based on the case studies and the presentations made by vendors and analysts) what could be the next “big” thing. Oddly enough, something that was mentioned over and over during the panels was the impact of Apple’s Siri on the future of enterprise search. Rest assured, nobody predicted Apple would take over the enterprise search market, but if Siri is a success (and so far it’s looking like it is), it will drastically increase the user expectations vis-à-vis software and especially enterprise search systems. I can already imagine some of our clients asking us to provide a voice recognition interface that will be able to answer questions like: What are the top ten company priorities? What are the main reasons people purchase our products? The user search experience will change and improve, and this is where many will focus their energy in the coming years.
A lot of discussions revolved around the acquisitions that we had seen recently with Oracle buying Endeca, HP buying Autonomy, and Microsoft buying FAST. The consensus amongst panelist’s and expert’s was that these purchases aren’t over. We will see other big acquisitions. No one had a clear idea (or wanted to share) who they thought would be the next target, but many expected to see more transactions in the market soon.
For its first edition, the Enterprise Search Europe conference delivered. I want to take this opportunity to thank Martin White and the Information Today team for putting this event together. The bar has been set high for next years edition, and I’m already looking forward to it!