A few weeks ago I sat in on a workshop in London at the Taxonomy Boot Camp conference, run by Jeff Fried of BA Insight. I’ve known Jeff for many years from various events and we share some views on how search systems should be built and managed – using best-of-breed technology and effective management processes. He was kind enough to ask me to join a recent podcast which you can listen to here. During the podcast, we had a great conversation about open source search, enterprise search, our recent book and whether Cognitive Search actually exists.
There is a small group of us working in the search business who believe that a major obstacle to the success of search projects is the lack of guidance, support and training for search managers. It’s not just about technology – bear in mind that no matter what their marketing tells you, most search engines are basically the same – but how you apply that technology to business problems. The career path to becoming a search manager is unclear and rocky, with no formal training available, no professional association to join and little peer recognition. Since few at executive level understand much about search technology and many are swayed by the latest marketing buzzwords it can be a thankless task. I suspect many search managers have to explain the same things again and again: why you can’t just ‘make it work like Google’, why promises of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning by the big search vendors won’t help if your content and metadata is still a mess, and why all the problems with the current search implementation won’t be fixed overnight simply by buying or building a new search engine.
Jeff’s workshop was only scheduled for three hours and we quickly realised there was so much to discuss that the agenda had to be curtailed. He’s running a similar workshop this week in Washington DC at the Enterprise Search & Discovery and I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes. Hopefully this will feed into the ongoing discussions amongst the professional community (comprising independent search experts from across the world with decades of experience, working in varying areas such as Sharepoint, open source, legacy search technology and intranet consultancy – we all think things have to change) around how we can better support search managers with effective training, qualifications, reports and other resources.
Watch this space – and in the meantime, if you need help with either the technical or management aspects of search, do get in touch.