To oversimplify the data-fiction of our world, let it be said that in the 1970s and 1980s data began growing. It has grown exponentially since then causing the birth of several new industries. One of which is ‘search’. The search industry exploded onto the mainstream in the 1990s and according to Stephen Arnold, author of Beyond Search, is fizzling out like a dying star.
His recent post “Enterprise Search: Fish Floundering Out of the Water” presents a brief history of the all-stars of search beginning with IBM, Oracle and Autonomy and cruises on through to Google and Exalead in the early 2000s. All the companies he mentions were novel in their time and made gobs of money to prove it.
The problem with the current attempts at recreating the search boom is that open-source is redefining the field, or more accurately, what is left of search. As Mr. Arnold has said – search is dead. Also, the current economic situation cannot be ignored. Money is scarce and great think tanks are struggling to fund the next big thing. Also, the demands of the search user have changed in the last thirty years, expecting free or low-cost search.
A sucker is born every second and for those labeled as such the search industry is still alive and kicking. The article predicts, however, that the current search boom and promise of an easy buck (as proven reliable by past performance) is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
Several observations and predictions are made in the article:
The big name search systems which have generated lots of money are now going to be like snow globe scenes. I just don’t see the resources required to reengineer, enhance, and beef up these systems becoming available over the long haul. The focus is on quarterly earnings, not on research which may or may not pay off in a 12 week window…Most of the buyers of these “big name” search engines will follow standard operating mega-corporation procedure. The technology will be bundled, wrapped, embedded, and repurposed.
While Arnold won’t commit to a list of top-picks in the search industry, the article does give several guide points to help those watching current search events navigate the field. First, those who care about such things need not be fooled by catchy marketing schemes. Next, they should look outside the red, white and blue box to other countries leading the way. Lastly, to reiterate Mr. Arnold’s infamous quote – search is dead. The world is moving on and so should investors.
Catherine Lamsfuss, October 27, 2011