It's not Google unless it says it's Google
A few years back, one of our customers told us that, if he could just license the 'Powered by Google' icon, he was sure most of the users would stop complaining. Not long after that, we heard that our friend Andy Feit, who was VP of search at Verity, hired a marketing research team to compare the quality of search engines when one was "Powered by Verity" and the other was 'Powered by Google'. Andy found that people thought the Google results were significantly better - even though both test cases were, in fact, powered by Verity. The mere presence of the Google icon seemed to make people think the results were better.
At the recent ESS, a woman from Booz & Company talked about their previous enterprise search experience involving Google. A few years back, Booz used FAST ESP on SharePoint 2003 and it simply sucked. Users asked for Google by name. When they upgraded to SharePoint 2007, Booz gave the users what they wanted: they went with a Google Search Appliance. The trouble was that they built a custom interface with a generic search button. Users' responses? "Search still sucks - why don't we just use Google?" even as they were using Google!
This can teach us a number of lessons:
1. Analyze what you need search to do for you before you buy it.
2. Understand how your content and search platform play together.
3, It ain't Google unless you tell your users it's Google.
By the way: in 2010 Booz rolled out FAST Search for SharePoint, and it seems that the results are a bit better now that they understand their search requirements and the nature of their content and metadata.