Services To Extend Search's Reach Into Transactions, ERP
Even as search rivals battle it out on the consumer front, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others are integrating their search engines more deeply into corporate server applications and systems.
To that end, Google plans to announce in the near future "an innovative strategy" that will allow users of its enterprise search service to access realtime business information, Matthew Glotzbach, director of product management for Google's Enterprise products, told CRN at the Wharton Technology Conference 2006.
Currently, Google enables search to reach into a variety of enterprise content systems using common protocols such as SMB and database APIs. But going forward, the company will provide richer connectivity to ERP systems and back-end data, the Google executive said.
"More and more we want to drive deeper connectivity into search that makes it easy for IT organizations to tap into real-time business information, more transaction-based information," said Glotzbach. "We're looking at it from the end-user standpoint—how to get better access to information. ERP systems have terabytes of information and only 10 [percent] to 15 percent [of employees] have access to it."
After the panel, MSN Search Lead Product Manager Saleel Sathe told CRN that Microsoft is planning to integrate Windows Desktop Search with many server applications. Windows Desktop Search for enterprise deployment, announced at IT Forum in November, offers some integration with SharePoint Portal Server, but that integration will become more seamless over time, he said.
At the Wharton Technology Conference sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School, executives from Microsoft's MSN, Google, Yahoo and Fast Search and Transfer (FAST) said they are working to improve the user interface, multimedia search, personalized search, context search and mobile search services and offer more targeted information delivery and advertising services to providers and consumers.
MSN's Sathe, for example, said Microsoft is working on advanced user interfaces that integrate music, video, Web content and multiple data types into one seamless experience across desktop, laptops and mobile devices. It would also integrate subscription services and other user-specified data.
Yahoo, for its part, plans to implement social search capabilities that serve up data from a variety of sources and people—not just Web masters, said Bradley Horowitz, head of technology development at Yahoo's Search and Marketplace Group.
Such a service would go beyond current page ranking technologies and enable a broader segment of users to influence content that is indexed and organized. Social Search, for example, would leverage Yahoo's communities service to deliver more local and personal information and advice, such as, for example, recommendations about plumbers from neighbors.
Google said the lines between consumer search and corporate search are blurring, but the industry remains in version 1.0 mode. Future search services will deliver personalized content in context and deliver targeted-based information and advertising, Google and others said.
"We're in the first inning of an extra-innings game," said Glotzbach. "By no means are we at the point where search is perfect."
FAST, a $100 million search platform provider headquartered in Norway, names IBM and Dell among its customers and helps corporations implement search for their business needs. The company focuses exclusively on corporate search needs and mobile search services.
"The future of search is finding answers, not links," said FAST's Michael Brady, senior director of business development.