I sent the following open letter to the leading enterprise providers and industry analysts in the information access community. I am inspired by the recent efforts of researchers to bring industry events to major academic conferences. I’d like to see industry–particularly enterprise providers and industry analysts–return the favor, embracing these events to help bridge the gap between research and practice.
Dear friends in the information access community,
I am reaching out to you with this open letter because I believe we, the leading providers and analysts in the information access community, share a common goal of helping companies understand, evaluate, and differentiate the technologies in this space.
Frankly, I feel that we as a community can do much better at achieving this goal. In my experience talking with CTOs, CIOs, and other decision makers in enterprises, I’ve found that too many people fail to understand either the state of current technology or the processes they need to put in place to leverage that technology. Indeed, a recent AIIM report confirms what I already knew anecdotally–that there is a widespread failure in the enterprise to understand and derive value from information access.
In order to advance the state of knowledge, I propose that we engage an underutilized resource: the scholarly community of information retrieval and information science researchers. Not only has this community brought us many of the foundations of the technology we provide, but it has also developed a rigorous tradition of evaluation and peer review.
In addition, this community has been increasingly interested in connection with practitioners, as demonstrated by the industry days held at top-tier scholarly conferences, such as SIGIR, CIKM, and ECIR. I have participated in a few of these, and I was impressed with the quality of both the presenters and the attendees. Web search leaders, such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, have embraced these events, as have smaller companies that specialize in search and related technologies, such as information extraction. Enterprise information access providers, however, have been largely absent at these events, as have industry analysts.
I suggest that we take at least the following steps to engage the scholarly community of information retrieval and information science researchers:
- Collaborate with the organizers of academic conferences such as SIGIR, CIKM, and ECIR to promote participation of enterprise information access providers and analysts in conference industry days.
- Participate in workshops that are particularly relevant to enterprise information access providers, such as the annual HCIR and exploratory search workshops.
The rigor and independence of the conferences and workshops makes them ideal as vendor-neutral forums. I hope that you all will join me in working to strengthen the connection between the commercial and scholarly communities, thus furthering everyone’s understanding of the technology that drives our community forward.