81 posts categorized "FAST Search & Transfer"

May 19, 2011

Content owners don't care about metadata

Or do they?

Our recent post about Booz & Company's 'men named Sarah' highlights just how important good metadata can be in order to provide a great search experience for employees and customers.

One of our customers who spoke at the recent ESS 2011 in New York provided some great insights into the problems organizations have getting employee content creators to include good metadata with their documents.

During the ESS talk, they report that content owners don't really seem motivated when asked to help improve the overall intranet site by improving document metadata. However - and this is a big one - when a sub-site owner sees poor results on their own site, they are willing to invest the time to provide really good metadata.

[A bit of background: This customer provides a way to individual site owners within the organization to add search to their 'sub site' pretty much automatically - sort of a 'search as a service' within the enterprise.]

So if you've been thinking of adding the ability to search-enable sub-sites within your organization, but solving the relevance problem is your first task, you might reconsider your priorities!

/s/Miles

May 16, 2011

Sixty guys named Sarah

We're always on the lookout for anecdotes to use at trade shows, with our customers and prospects, and of course here in the blog, so I have to report that we heard a great one last week at Enterprise Search Summit in New York.

The folks from Booz & Company, a spinoff from Booz Allen Hamilton, did a presentation on their experience comparing two well respected mainstream search products. They report that, at one point, one of the presenters was looking for a woman she knew named Sarah - but she was having trouble remembering Sarah's last name. The presenter told of searching one of the engines under evaluation and finding that most of the top 60 people returned from the search were... men. None were named 'Sue'; and apparently none were named Sarah either. The other engine returned records for a number of women named Sarah; and, as it turns out, for a few men as well.

After some frustration, they finally got to the root of the problem. It turns out that all of the Booz & Company employees have their resumes indexed as part of their profiles. Would you like to guess the name of the person who authored the original resume template? Yep - Sarah.

One of the search platforms ranks document metadata very high, without much ability to tune the weighting algorithms. The other provides a way to tune the relevance; but it also tends to rank people relevance a bit differently - probably stressing documents about people less than the individual people profiles. The presentation was a bit vague about whether any actual tuning that might impact these differences on either platform.

The fact that one of the engines did well, and one did not, is not the big story here - although it is something for you to consider if you're evaluating enterprise search platforms. The real lesson here is that poor metadata makes even the best of search platforms perform poorly in some - if not most - cases.

 

May 05, 2011

FAST for SharePoint Seminar in NY During ESS

Our friends over at Arcovis are hosting a talk "Automating the Top 5 FAST Search for SharePoint Customizations" Wednesday evening, May 11.. Brent Groom, a Senior Engineer at Microsoft with deep experience in enterprise search, is doing the presentation.

The registration site seems to be down right now, but the link to register is http://events.linkedin.com/events/521196/clickthru. You can find information on the seminar/webinar on LinkedIn as well.

You can also attend in person. The session will be held at the Microsoft offices:

Microsoft Corporation
1290 Avenue Of The Americas
New York, NY 10104 US

if you're in New York for the Enterprise Search Summit, and you are in town Wednesday evening, this is only a few blocks form the hotel; show up in person!

 

 

March 24, 2011

Entity Extraction in Fast Search for SharePoint: Great article!

I just discovered a great article on a great blog about FAST Search for SharePoint (FS4SP) by Trond Øivind Eriksen of Comperio in Norway. Comperio is a FAST partner, and has been involved in a number of innovative projects involving FAST ESP and now FS4SP.

The article that originally caught my attention is about 'entity extraction' - what Microsoft now calls 'property extraction' in FS4SP. He addresses 'black list' and 'white list' terms that you want to include in the facets/properties you display in results lists; and, even cooler, he provides the example the way God intended things to be run - via scripting (in this case, PowerShell).

Actually I found his blog most helpful; I'm certainly adding it to my 'must read' list. You may find it helpful as well!

 

/s/Miles

February 02, 2011

Make your search engine seem psychic

People tell us that Google just seems to know what they want - it's almost psychic sometimes. If only every search engine could be like Google. Well, maybe it can.

Over the years, the functions performed by the actual 'search engine' have grown. At first, it was simply a search for an exact match - probably using punch card input. Then, over time, new and expanded capabilities were added, including stemming... synonyms... expanded query languages... weighting based on fields and metadata.. and more. But no matter what the search technology provided, really demanding search consumers pushed the technology, often by wrapping extra processing both at index time and at query time. This let the most innovative search driven organizations stay ahead of the competition. Two great examples today: LexisNexis and Factiva.

In fact, the magic that makes public Google search so good - and so much better than even the Google Search Appliance - is the armies of specialists analyzing query activity and adding specialized actions 'above' the search engine. 

One example of this many of us know well: enter a 12 digit number. if the format of the number matches the algorithm used by FedEx in creating tracking numbers, Google will offer to let you track that package directly from FedEx. For example, search for 796579057470 and you see a delivery record; change that last 1 to a zero, and you get no hits. How do they know?

The folks at Google must have noticed lots of 12 digit numbers as queries; and being smart, they realized that many were FedEx tracking numbers. I imagine, working in conjunction with FedEx, Google implemented the algorithm - what makes a valid FedEx tracking number - and boosted that as a 'best bet'.

Why is this important to you? Well, first it shows that Google.com is great in part because of the army of humans who review search activity, likely on a daily basis. Oh, sure, they have automated tools to help them out - with maybe 100 million queries every day, you'd need to automate too. They look for interesting trends and search behavior that lets them provide better answers.

Secondly, you can do the same sort of thing at your organization. Autonomy, Exalead, Microsoft, Lucene, and even the Google Search Appliance, can all be improved with some custom code after the user query but before the results show up. Did the user type what looks like a name? Check the employee directory and suggest a phone number or an email address. Is the query a product name? Suggest the product page. You can make your search psychic.

Finally, does the query return no hits? You can tell what form the user was on when the search was submitted - rather than a generic 'No Hits' page. Was the query more than a single term? Look for any of the words, rather than all; make a guess at what the user wanted, based on the search form, pervious searches, or whatever context you can find.

So how do you make your search engine seem psychic? Learn about query tuning and result list pre-processing; we've written a number of articles about query tuning in our newsletter alone.

But most importantly: mimic Google: work hard at it every day.

/s/Miles

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2011

Great new tool for Pharmaceutical researchers

Topic_Explorer Our partners over at Raritan Technologies Inc. have recently released a great tool they developed using the  Lexalytics, Inc. Salence toolkit. The product, Topic Explorer, provides a way for users to dig through content and explore concepts from Raritan's extensive knowledgebase of medical terminology, augmented by the text analytics capabilities provided by Lexalytics. Many of you will remember Lexalytics as the company that provided great sentiment analysis in the original FAST ESP product prior to the acquisition by Microsoft.

Raritan co-founder Ted Sullivan gives a great video demo of the product you should see.

What's really great about Topic Explorer is that it isn't limited to just pharma. With the right taxonomy, it can be a great research tool for just about any vertical - risk management, eDiscovery, patent research, and more.

Topic Explorer is a search technology neutral product, so it will work with your current solution whether you're using Lucene/Solr or a popular commercial technolgy. Contact Raritan at 908-668-8181 Extentsion 110. Tell them you read it here! 

December 10, 2010

SPTech February 7-9 2011

SPTCCA2011_150x57 December is sometimes a tough month to get much business done unless you're an eCommerce company. Nonetheless, 2011 will be here soon, and a hectic January may keep you from noticing a really great SharePoint conference in February: SPTechCon. It's the largest independent SharePoint conference, the kind where the Kool-Aid is just a refreshing beverage.

The early-bird registration that can save a few bucks from your professional development budget ends next Friday, December 17. It's not an easy three days: sessions start at 8:30AM and end at - or after - 5PM. There is time to meet with vendors and with other attendees, but it's certainly a conference you attend to work. The program (yes, which includes yours truly as a speaker), lists more than 100 workshops and classes, and you'll surely find them educational and professionally valuable.

Since you asked, my session is 'Which SharePoint search is Right for You'. With Microsoft and SharePoint, you have four or five choices in search technology to use just from Microsoft. Throw in a couple of other search products that work well with SharePoint and you've got the potential for some serious confusion. Come by the event, tell me that 'Dr Search sent me' and let's talk about your concerns one-on-one after the Wednesday 8:30AM (sunrise) session.

So while you're enjoying some quiet time leading up to the holidays, get out and register today! See you in February!

/s/Miles

 

 

Microsoft Search Partners blog is a little behind the times

You can't talk yourself out of something you behaved yourself into.

It's a simple truth that applies to kids, employees, bosses and vendors - even pets (you animal lovers will understand)

So when I finally had time to browse blogs I like to follow, one of the ones I opened was the Microsoft Enterprise Search Partners blog. When they acquired FAST, Microsoft jumped into enterprise search with both feet. They finally had a real solution to the problem, and they were happy to have a cadre of skilled partners who knew search. Hey, they even started a blog!

I know it's tough to keep up--to-date when you write a bog, especially for a small company. Trust me, I know: keeping up to date on writing blogs, tweeting, running a company, writing a book AND managing a couple of intense projects is tough. I'm always in awe of big companies like Google and Microsoft with large staffs to handle the important corporate communications.

So when I finally went back to the Microsoft Enterprise Search Partners blog, imagine my surprise when I discovered that the most recent entry there was from April 16 2010 - nearly 9 months ago! The article - 'Calling all Partners!' - talks about the 'terrific momentum' in the program. Working overtime - right up to the layoffs.

So I have to ask: which is it? Are search partners (and enterprise search) important to Microsoft? Or was it an urgent problem in SharePoint that, now solved, can be pushed to the back burner? Microsoft, come on: restart the blog.. or let it die.

/s/Miles

 

 

 

December 05, 2010

Share your successes at ESS East next May

ESSSpringLogo Our friends over at InfoToday who run the successful Enterprise Search Summit conferences have asked us  to announce that the date for submitting papers to their Spring show in New York in May 2011 has been extended until Wednesday, December 8. You can find out what they are looking for and how to submit your proposal online at http://www.enterprisesearchsummit.com/Spring2011/CallForSpeakers.aspx.

Michelle Manafy, who runs the program again next May, really likes to have speakers who have found creative and successful ways to select, deploy, or manage ongoing enterprise search operations. We've co-presented with several of our customers in the past, and trust me, it's great fun and not bad for your career! And - no promises - the weather at ESS East has been great for just about every year - and we've been there for nearly 6 years now!

A friend told me something years ago that I've always fond helpful; I hope you'll take it to heart: 'Everything you know, someone else needs to know'. Don't worry if your search project isn't perfect; or worry that someone will find fault with what you've done. Trust me: there are many organizations newer to enterprise search than you are, and anything you found helpful will sure be valuable for them as well. And you get to attend al of the sessions, so you might learn more as well! A 'win-win' situation if I've ever seen one!

See you in New York!

/s/Miles

 

 

November 08, 2010

Enterprise Search Summit DC November 15-18

The new home for the Fall ESS show is the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington, DC... so much for ESS-West! The new locale should bring a large number of new attendees and visitors, and a new co-located conference: SharePoint Symposium. InfoToday knows a trend when they see one!

In addition to the usual sessions provided to show sponsors, there are some interesting sessions by Tom Reamy of KAPS Group; Martin White of Intranet Focus; and eDiscovery expert Oz Benamram, CKO of White and Case LLP. Tony Byrne of Real Story Group will also be there, moderating the session I'll be participating in: Stump the  Search Consultant on Wednesday afternoon November 17th.

I really expect the show to have a large number of government folks in attendance, given how hard it's been for these good folks to travel to previous ESS conferences in New York and San Jose. InfoToday reports higher pre-registration this year than in the past; and I'll be happy to find out I'm wrong about most of the attendees being government or government-related folks.

Come by the session Wesnesday afternoon at 3PM; or leave a comment here if you want to get together.