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June 22, 2017

First Impressions on the new Forrester Wave

The new Forrester Wave™: Cognitive Search And Knowledge Discovery Solutions is out, and once again I think Forrester, along with Gartner and others, miss the mark on the real enterprise search market. 

In the belief that sharing my quick first impression will at least start a conversation going until I can write up a more complete analysis, I am going to share these first thoughts.

First, I am not wild about the new buzzterms 'cognitive search' and "insight engines". Yes, enterprise search can be intelligent, but it's not cognitive. which Webster defines as "of, relating to, or involving conscious mental activities (such as thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering)". HAL 9000 was cognitive software; "Did you mean" and "You might also like" are not cognition.  And enterprise search has always provided insights into content, so why the new 'insight engines'? 

Moving on, I agree with Forrester that Attivio, Coveo and Sinequa are among the leaders. Honestly, I wish Coveo was fully multi-platform, but they do have an outstanding cloud offering that in my mind addresses much of the issue.

However, unlike Forrester, I believe Lucidworks Fusion belongs right up there with the leaders. Fusion starts with a strong open source Solr-based core; an integrated administrative UI; a great search UI builder (with the recent acquisition of Twigkit); and multiple-platform support. (Yep, I worked there a few years ago, but well before the current product was created).

I count IDOL in with the 'Old Guard' along with Endeca, Vivisimo (‘Watson’) and perhaps others - former leaders still available, but offered by non-search companies, or removed from traditional enterprise search (Watson). And it will be interesting to see if Idol and its new parent, Microfocus, survive the recent shotgun wedding. 

Tier 2, great search but not quite “full” enterprise search, includes Elastic (which I believe is in the enviable position as *the* platform for IoT), Mark Logic, and perhaps one or two more.

And there are several newer or perhaps less-well known search offerings like Algolia, Funnelback, Swiftype, Yippy and more. Don’t hold their size and/or youth against them; they’re quite good products.

No, I’d say the Forrester report is limited, and honestly a bit out of touch with the real enterprise search market. I know, I know; How do I really feel? Stay tuned, I've got more to say coming soon. What do you think? Leave a comment below!

Comments

Thank you Miles - I was feeling a bit exposed with my own comments http://intranetfocus.com/gartner-and-forrester-on-the-search-industry-part-3/ One topic that has not yet been considered is global presence. I have three enterprise search projects underway and in all three cases they need a solution that is global, which is why Microsoft is so strong. Their pitch is that wherever your office you can have a local support partner. Now they may know little about search but to global IT that is not seen as a challenge - surely search is easy! Global businesses also operate in multiple languages so stemmers, parsers and much else have to accommodate perhaps nine languages, at least one from the CJK suite. The Lucidworks international page is weak https://lucidworks.com/company/international/ There used to be a Lucid conference in Europe - not any more. Yes there may be integration partners in Europe but that does not wash with either Procurement or IT who want to talk to a vendor face-to-face and preferably not after a red-eye from San Francisco. Look how little useful detail there is in the Attivio case studies https://www.attivio.com/customers and how few are enterprise-wide global businesses. Some don't even have a one-page description. One of my clients has 130,000 employees in 40 countries. That's what I mean by global. Search has been around since 1962. Search technology might have moved on but the industry is still immature compared to vendors in almost any other sector, and I say that having been in the search business since 1975.

I know Paul and worked with him at Fulcrum Technologies way back when, and I trust his judgement on search 100%.

I agree analyst reports can be helpful; but I'm not convinced that the reports reflect the value of every technology equally. I know the big firms are reputable, and I believe them when they say that the write-ups are not 'pay to play'. Still, I think they spend more time with client companies, and may not cover smaller clients or non-client firms in the same depth.

(background info, not really a "disclaimer": I work for Coveo, who were ranked quite well in both of the analyst reports you referenced).

I have to admit that I instinctively dislike the use of the word "cognitive" in this context, even though our own marketing organization uses it, now. :) However, since an alternative meaning of "cognitive" is: "of or relating to the mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning", the term could be used to apply to search technologies (such as Coveo) that use "judgement or reasoning" (in our case, primarily based on machine-learning driven analysis of user context & activity around search), in addition to traditional search techniques, to return "better" suggestions, results and recommendations. So maybe I am coming around to that term, with some caveats & explications. :)

Analyst reports can be useful to Enterprises when they are considering their technology choices, but they are always going to have their limitations. I think that it is still up to the Enterprise (and the software vendors / implementation partners) to do a deep, honest assessment of needs and capabilities before making a selection. #maybeThatsObvious

I'll be interested to see what others think, too!

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