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March 22, 2007

The Future (Platform) for Enterprise Search 2.0

I think I saw the future of Enterprise Search 2.0 today – and it’s from – Adobe.

 Yep – Adobe Apollo actually. And it’s not a search engine. It’s a new ‘cross operating system run-time’ that ‘allows you to build desktop applications using web technology' like HTML JavaScript and Flash. Looks to be taking Sun and Java on right where it hurts.

 But wait – the future of search?  Have a look at the video. Now think creatively.

What could you do with a search application that knew what things you were interested in, and could do the searches while you are online? Now imagine it can cache the results for you to read when you are offline. It could check your corporate blog (we are talking Enterprise Search 2.0, right?). You can tag the articles you read offline, enter a few posts, update your stored queries. And when you are back on the ground, five minutes on the wireless and you’re all caught up.

In the office? Searches show up clustered together in folders – Projects, People, Products. Want to drill down on some results? No problem, open an Apollo widget your IT guys created in HTML and drill into the search results. Tag them. Update them. Sort them. Filter them. You need to search in multiple repositories with different logins? No problem - your Apollo application knows how to federate results just the way you want them.

It’s also a great way for your IT guys to cache your important documents offline, so they are still available, even when your laptop is at 31,000 feet headed eastbound. Search handles all the security, so no one who isn’t authorized can see your documents. And since you will have control in the Apollo applications over which of your files get put into the cache, no one will see your quicken files or credit card statements.

 Is this really a search platform? Search is at the heart of most enterprise applications of the future. Not the button you’re used to, but the very platform. Philippe Courtot., formerly of Verity, was fond of saying ‘Search is ubiquitous’. We all thought he meant ‘Every company will have a search box on their web pages'. What he meant is search is everywhere, in every application.

Andrew McAfee of Harvard talks about channels and platforms. Channels are applications like IM, email, text messaging; platforms are the wikis, blogs and collaborative platforms like Lotus Notes or Microsoft SharePoint. Search, too, is a platform on which all of the Enterprise 2.0 tools will be built. Buttonless search, perhaps. Zero click search. But search under the covers nonetheless. And Apollo looks like a pretty cool platform for the platform.

(By the way, i looks like you can download a test of version of the Apollo Run-time and the SDK from Adobe.


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