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July 21, 2014

A new V for Big Data: Visitor

About an hour after I wrote my most recent post, What does it take to qualify as 'Big Data'? about the multiple Vs of Big Data. As you can imagine, I had words that start with the letter 'V' bouncing around in my head. Then it hit me: another V word for Big Data is Visitor

For years, I've been writing about the importance of context in search - basically data about the search user. Without context, we can show some basic full-text search results. With context, we try to get into the user's head and understand what the search terms mean to him or her. 

On the Internet, this usually means the physical location of the user IP address, previous searches he/she may have done, or products the searcher browsed. (Aside: Just last week, I was on Amazon looking for an adapter that would let me convert my desk so i could work standing up rather than sitting down. A few days later, I searched Google for a news story I had seen. One of the ads that showed up on the results? An ad from Amazon for a stand up desk adaptor. Now that's what I mean by 'context'!)

Inside the organization, user context might include things like the user's department, physical location, job title, native language, or product specialty. And if you want to do search right, you need to start finding a way to use that context. 

And as I was thinking about V words.. Visitor came to mind. Whether you call it context, signals, search and browse history or just environment, all of this is critical to successful implementation of enterprise search. This is true whether you are searching big data or your SharePoint repository. And as far as most search platforms go, you still have to do it yourself. 





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