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July 11, 2007

What's in a name: Branding and Enterprise Search

We've been hearing some interesting stories over the last few months about how users perceive the quality of the results their enterprise search platform delivers - and the news isn't great for some vendors. It seems that if you label your search ‘Powered by Google’, typical corporate users find the results much better - whether the results are really powered by Google or not.

This comes to us anecdotally from a trusted friend and colleague; as well as from a customer of our company who has switched from K2 to Google for search on their large intranet site.

Our friend tells of a user study conducted by and for a large enterprise search vendor, a long-time resident of the prestigious upper right quadrant in the annual Gartner report. This company – let’s call it ‘Vendor X’ - arranged for  groups of users to search enterprise content using two different search engines. One system was labeled with the logo of Vendor X; while the other was labeled 'Powered by Google’ and displayed the Google logo. In fact, both systems used the same search software, that marketing by Vendor X.

Incredibly, users reported that the system labeled 'Powered by Google’ produced much better results than the one powered by Vendor X - even though the results were the same.

The second data point comes from a customer who saw the writing on the wall long before Vendor X did their survey. His users were clamoring for Google whenever this large corporation surveyed user satisfaction with search. Our primary contact said a year ago that if he could license the 'Powered by Google' graphic, he was sure his users would be happier.

Now that this customer has implemented Google as the primary enterprise search platform, our guy reports an even more amazing finding: when users cannot find the right content provided by Google, they assume they did something wrong: users are willing to take the blame if Google can't find the right answer!

Google has been offering a pretty good product for a few years, and it's getting better all the time. It's going to be an interesting few years for enterprise search!


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