Well, you found us. Pureinsights. Another company in the enterprise search and search application space.
If you have been around search for a while, you may recognize some of us as industry veterans in the search engine space. From the days of Excalibur Technologies, to Convera, Search Technologies, and now Pureinsights. If you are a new acquaintance, we are pleased to meet you and hope to prove that our past success in the industry was no fluke.
In either case, you are probably asking “why did these guys start another search company?”
If we have learned anything in our 20 plus years of experience in the enterprise search business it’s that there is always something new and exciting around the corner – a new technology or a new methodology that advances search-based applications. And we would not have started Pureinsights if we did not think we had something new to add to the state-of-the-art. We hope to convince you in this blog that, well, maybe these guys have a point.
Key Developments in Search – 1960s to 2010s
Yes, there was search before the Internet!
- Search solutions first appeared in the 1960s as computing technology advanced at a rapid pace and early search applications allowed scientists to search through databases to find research literature.
- Business took notice and in the 1970s, applications emerged which allowed users to search indexed text files. And information retrieval science came of age.
- Enterprise search blossomed in the 1980s as the user population grew, coinciding with the emergence of desktop computing at work.
- In the 1990s, the World Wide Web emerged, and the need for search exploded with the early adoption of personal computers and the rise of ecommerce.
Computing technology advances quickly. First search applications for research literature.
Business search applications for indexed text files. Information retrieval science is born.
User population grows as more business desktop computing grows. First at work, then at home.
WWW and ecommerce emerge. Search explodes. Google is born and eventually achieves verb status. "Just Google it."
Enterprise search market matures and takes off. Search becomes a multi-billion-dollar market. Apache Solr is the first open-source search engine.
"Search is Everywhere." Search market consolidates. Elasticsearch dominates open-source. The Cloud and AI emerge.
Search is smarter and better than ever. Voice search and search bars blur. General and specialized search persist. Search available as a complete service.
Much like utilities, search became a public need. And in 1998, Google was founded, growing to verb status (“Google it!”) and becoming the gold-standard for search experiences. Unlike other solutions at the time that buried the search bar in ads and content, Google’s user interface consisted of a simple search bar that delivered relevant and consistent results based on key words.
Despite Google’s eventual dominance of Internet search, the 2000s saw the maturation of the enterprise search market, and the emergence of many very good vendors, along with Apache Solr, the first open-source search engine. Even as the search market consolidated in the 2010s, there were still evolutionary (even revolutionary) developments in search technologies:
- Elasticsearch (open-source) proved itself and quickly became the most widely used search engine overall, as many commercial vendors exited (with a few exceptions).
- Mature technologies like knowledge graphs, natural language processing, text analytics and machine learning (often collectively “AI”) gained new life with seemingly limitless computing and storage provided by the Cloud.
- Search engines became “insight engines” according to one leading analyst firm, or search became “cognitive search” to another firm.
- The Cloud began to dominate IT – as a platform for enterprise storage and computing, and the Big Three (Google, Microsoft, Amazon) reinvested in rethinking search. IBM also said, “don’t forget about me.”
The biggest paradigm shift, however, occurred – once again – in the consumer space.
Search became ubiquitous via websites and applications – for shopping, entertainment, travel, social media, even in your car. Virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google redefined the expected user experience. Instead of just search results, people began typing full questions and expecting actual answers from their search bar. Once again, people just want it to just “work like Google.”
How Search-based Applications Will Evolve in the 2020s
If you sift through the inevitable hype and the tangle of buzzwords (OK, we are partially guilty), a very clear picture emerges for us as to how we expect enterprise search, website and ecommerce search, and search-based applications to evolve in the next decade. In a nutshell, search will continue to become better and smarter.
- Natural language query and response capabilities will become ubiquitous, driven by technology innovations and cloud computing (what you name your virtual assistant is up to you).
- The line between search bar and voice search / digital assistants will continue to blur. The experiences will simulate, but not constitute truly cognitive AI because responses are still curated from existing content and not independently deduced and summarized – yet.
- Search applications will still fall into distinct general search and use-case specific search categories. As with any market, search applications are still subject to segmentation and specialization.
Uncertainties in the pace of AI deployment, acceptance and adoption make some of the more far-reaching developments hard to predict – but the possibilities are endless
The New Frontier
So, with so many exciting developments going on – still – in the search industry, what does the future hold for your company? And what does Pureinsights hope to offer that is new to the market?
In the near-term, you may be just looking for some help improving your current search-based application. Pureinsights offers consulting services that can help you tune or completely overhaul your search application as well as technology that is complementary to your choice of search engine.
In the longer-term, there is a bigger question to ponder. If you are a company where search is critical to your business or business processes you have a choice:
- Take on the challenge of building a best-in-class team of search experts who understand corporate IT, and IT engineers who understand search (they are not the same, trust me).
- Focus on the true core competencies of your business and entrust your search applications (like you do many other functions like accounting, HR, etc.) to experts who can run them for you.
I am not talking about just buying a license for one of the many Search as a Service software products that are available, but investing in “Search as a Full Service.” I encourage you to learn more about our thoughts on this topic by following this link.
Pureinsights was founded because we believe the new frontier in search is for a company that can combine search consulting, best-in-class technologies (our own and from other vendors), and a managed services model to deliver on what today’s users expect from search applications.
And we cannot wait to get started. We are Pureinsights. It is good to make your acquaintance.
Our promise to you is simple. Entrust your search bar to us, and we will “Make it work like Google.”
Kamran Khan (CEO)
John Steinhauer (VP of Engineering)
Phil Lewis (CTO)
Graham Charlesworth (Managing Director, Europe)