Where Have All The Site Search Vendors Gone?

A lot of our clients tell us that search on websites is an understaffed, IT-funded afterthought. But watch for the status quo to change, because search hasn’t lived up to its potential yet. As site search continues to evolve, it will evolve beyond just helping people find information. Instead, it will help organizations, for example, link search to things like promotions/ads and landing pages.Our last site search survey showed that two-thirds of decision-makers were looking to expand website search deployments. But who are the vendors out there? The past few years have seen some transitions in the site search market, with many independent vendors getting acquired, some shifting focus, and some stalwarts still remaining in the marketplace:

  • The number of independent vendors is shrinking. Larger vendors continue to refine their digital customer experience appeal by acquiring other products, and many of these include independent site search vendors. This includes Oracle (acquired Endeca in 2011); SDL (acquired Dutch search vendor Fredhopper in 2010); IBM (acquired search and discover vendor Vivisimo in 2012); Microsoft (acquired FAST in 2008 and bundled it with SharePoint); and Adobe (acquired Omniture in 2009, bringing with it the old Mercado search product). This slew of acquisitions doesn’t mean that independent vendors are out of the game. Many still offer site search solutions (Coveo, Elicit, Fabasoft, and Attivio, among others) but their numbers are shrinking.
  • Vendors have honed in on different use cases.  Vendors have started to focus on different ways to use search. Though most of these vendors will still sell to non-commerce use cases, some vendors have still aimed their products at eCommerce sites (e.g. SDL, Oracle, Celebros). IBM’s Vivisimo product now focuses more on big data. Some solutions are focused on search multiple areas of experience, not just web experience; Coveo, for example, also focuses on the customer service/contact center scenario. 
  • Longtime search solutions remain in the market. These are vendors whose names you may be familiar with, like Autonomy and Google. Both continue to offer site search solutions. Included in this also is the open source solution, Lucene, which continues to power many large websites’ site search.

These vendors mentioned above are just a few examples. But they represent that the market is maturing as vendors continue to get acquired and hone in on their focus. So what’s next for the vendors who remain in the game? Search fits into companies’ megatrends like digital customer experience, contextualization, cross-channel customer analytics, and business control for customer-facing applications. We believe that search vendors will need to align with one or more of these trends in order to remain competitive in the enterprise market. 

To better gauge the vendor landscape and how vendors are supporting these search trends, we will soon be kicking off research for a site search market overview. Are you a search vendor who has experienced success in site search? Are you a customer who is looking to buy or recently bought a site search solution? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

Comments

The time for site search has

The time for site search has never been more interesting.

Mature products, cloud in everybody's mind and context to contextualize information as good as never before. Open standard like microdata get adopted more and more.

So yes, I agree some vendors lost their focus on professional site search but besides that the demand grew. Content marketing as well is an aspect that can leverage the full power of site search functionality and really come up with a win-win-win situation, for content producers, for affiliates and for cloud service vendors.

Site Search - Afterthought?

I've been working in Site Search as a business user SME for a few years now. I'm astounded that so much of site search is still largely unknown, even at large companies. They may understand concepts like redirects and landing pages, but they rarely have any idea what drives the REAL important things like Relevancy. Heck, I can count on one hand the number of people I've met in the industry who know Relevancy AND know what relevancy strategy their site is using.

But this is all what makes Site Search such an interesting area for me. It feels a bit like the wild west, and my knowledge has an awful lot of value and is often easily applied.

As far as the industry goes, I certainly miss the days of more independent vendors like Endeca, but understand that I'll just have to live with the behemoth Ecom outfits like Oracle and IBM going forward.