Enterprise search: Why it's a crisis and why Googzilla will strike

Summary:Enterprise search is a mess and technology managers--as well as the vendors selling them stuff--are to blame. In the end, Google will take over the enterprise.

Enterprise search is a mess and technology managers--as well as the vendors selling them stuff--are to blame. In the end, Google will take over the enterprise.

Those were just some of the takeaways from Stephen Arnold, managing director at ArnoldIT.com. Arnold spoke at the Enterprise Search Summit in New York. Here's his list of why enterprise search has resulted in dozens of vendors, messy implementations and disappointment among information workers.

Crisis 1: You.

Arnold noted that technology managers are a big reason search within the enterprise is difficult. "You're looking for silver bullets, you're not outlining requirements and don't know what you want," says Arnold. Translation: The post-purchase implementation with enterprise search is becoming a big problem. And the blame largely rests with customers who don't know what they want. Arnold urged customers to be realistic about project requirements.

Crisis 2: Searching for a silver bullet.

Vendors--Fast, Autonomy, Siderian, Oracle, Microsoft and a cast of dozens--will sell you something anyway as a silver bullet fix. Then these poor vendors will struggle with you over requirements you failed to outline. Luckily, there's a bright side: "Your disappointment may not be apparent to you since you don't use your enterprise search system," says Arnold.

Crisis 3: Technology managers have learned just enough about enterprise search to be dangerous.

Figuring out enterprise search--and all the security requirements, data requirements and the like--requires an engineer schooled in information retrieval. Good luck finding those folks.

Crisis 4: The enterprise is too complex. That makes it hard to search.

"Your company and the vendors make IT too complex," says Arnold. Meanwhile, companies want business intelligence via a search box without doing the preliminary work. "We want search to be more and answer fundamental questions. (But) the likelihood of search answering a business question out of the box is zero. It may require custom coding. It's work. The last thing the IT department wants is a complicated system," says Arnold.

Bottom line: It's a standoff.

Crisis 5: Cost. Doing the preliminary enterprise search work--indexing data, creating business rules and then figuring out what the search should look like--costs money.

What's going to happen without clear ROI and increasing search costs? Google will take over the world. As Donna Bogatin notes Google's universal search may just be the enterprise ticket.

"These crises are creating a vacuum for the most recognized brand in the market to explode into that area and take it," says Arnold, who has had his run-ins with Google. To illustrate his point, Arnold even put up a Googzilla slide with two Godzilla lookalikes named Sergey and Larry.

Topics: Google, Hewlett-Packard


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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