Enterprise Search: Beset by Marketing and Hype

Given my role at Endeca, I am hardly objective about the competitive landscape of enterprise search. But, while reading an article about enterprise search in the latest issue of Information Age,  I was pleasantly surprised to find myself agreeing with Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch that the enterprise search industry is beset by “marketing and hype”, and that the technologies available are far from equal.

Not surprisingly, there are a variety of  perspectives among the major enterprise search vendors about how best to address the challenges of enterprise search:

  • Autonomy promotes “meaning-based computing”, its branding of its information extraction and text mining techniques.
  • Dave Armstrong, a head of products and marketing for Google’s Enterprise division, questions the feasibility of structuring content and emphasizes the importance of search for unstructured data.
  • Martyn Christian, IBM’s VP of enterprise content management, asserts that search should not be used to address problems better served by classification and metadata.
  • Endeca (not mentioned in the article) emphasizes an interaction-centric “guided summarization” approach that readers here will recognize as human-computer information retrieval.
  • Microsoft’s FAST is mentioned, but the only quotation cited is from a disgruntled former customer.

Note that I am trying to convert vendor slogans into vendor-independent terms that have some traction in the information retrieval research community. My hope is that, through neutral forums like the SIGIR Industry Track, we can do a better job as vendors of keeping ourselves honest, as well as engaging academic researchers to help connect their work to the real world.

Above all, let’s strive to compete on technology and ideas, rather than on obfuscation through marketing.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.

3 replies on “Enterprise Search: Beset by Marketing and Hype”

Interesting that you point out perspectives from several of the leading vendors in the enterprise search space (even those not cited in the article) but provide no perspective on either Microsoft (via SharePoint and/or Search Server) or the combined Microsoft/FAST.


Adam, no one from Microsoft/FAST was cited in the article, only the “sour taste” comment. The only perspective I presented for a vendor not cited in the article was my perspective on my own employer, and I made it clear that it was not mentioned in the article. I may be partisan, but I’m trying to be even-handed.

Nonetheless, I would be happy to include a sentence or two from a Microsoft/FAST representative or from their web site explaining their positioning / differentiation. But their site seems to try to touch all of the bases without any particular emphasis.

Do you have a suggestion? Or perhaps someone from FAST who reads this blog would care to chime in?


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