Knowledge is power. And in a time where insights drive business differentiation, knowledge is also the origin of power. In our daily routines as consumers, search is probably the most common application we use to find knowledge, and it forms the basis of our personal systems of insight. But at long last, search in the enterprise is catching up. A new wave of search-based applications and search-driven experiences are now being delivered by companies who understand the need to empower their employees and customers with immediate, contextual knowledge in an easily-consumable format.
Late last year, Forrester reviewed and ranked the secure websites of the 12 largest retail banks in the US and Canada. The full reports can be found here (US) and here (Canada). Overall, banks' secure websites earned an average score of 70 points (out of 100), demonstrating a level of quality that meets customers expectations but also leaves room for improvements. Here are some of the highlights:
Citi moves to the top of the US rankings with a website overhaul. In July 2011, Citi launched its first tablet banking app. Based in part on insights gleaned from that process, the bank rolled out a newly redesigned secure website, followed by additional digital features and functionality for online bankers, mobile bankers, and tablet bankers. As a result, Citi moved from second-to-last in our ranking to the top spot this year.
RBC pulls off a historic sixth-straight win among Canadian banks' secure sites. For a record sixth year, RBC earned the top spot in our Canadian rankings. Two factors drive RBC’s digital banking success: First, the bank's secure website offers a wide array of secure site features, including eBills, tax management tools, and more; second, the bank continues to innovate, this year adding customizable money management dashboards and new mobile features such as foreign exchange and mortgage payment calculators on its iPhone app.
He highlights text analytics technology in the report because understanding unstructured data plays a critical part in daily operations. Enterprises have too much content to review and annotate manually. Text analytics products from vendors like Temis and SAS mine, interpret, and add structure to information to reveal hidden patterns and relationships. In my 2009 overview of text analytics, I cite the primary use cases for these tools: voice of the customer, competitive intelligence, operations improvements, and compliance and law enforcement.
But there are a few other sweet spots for text analytics tools in the enterprise:
Analytics and search: Analytics tools surface and visualize patterns; search tools return discrete results to match an expressed need. But these disciplines are blending. People want to drill in to high-level analysis to find the specific thing customers buzz about. And many searchers don’t know how to articulate their need as a query and are looking for the big picture on a topic or trend. Forrester expects these solutions to come together, as search tools mainstream semantic features like entity extraction out of the box, and analytics vendors introduce new ways to investigate relationships and data output.
Big news in the information management world today – Autonomy announced it will acquire Interwoven for $775 million.
Since 2005, Autonomy has acquired technology for search (Verity), archiving (ZANTAZ), and records management (Meridio). With Interwoven, Autonomy gains a technology foothold where it was previously weakest -- at the point where digital content gets created, captured, and managed. Yet knowing Autonomy, it’s likely after Interwoven’s solid customer base in several niche market segments: law firms and customer-facing media, entertainment, and commerce Web sites. All of these Interwoven customers had better prepare for a knock on the door from Autonomy reps prepared to sell them on the virtues of extracting “meaning” from their digital information (using Autonomy IDOL, of course).
Enterprise search and enterprise content management are two sides of a coin. Both are necessary to create, manage, store, find and analyze information. Yet information workers still generate an enormous amount of content in word processing applications and distribute it via email. Content created in this way is difficult to manage and control as well as difficult to find. The high price Microsoft paid for FAST Search and Transfer last year was based in part on the expected value of combining the two sides of the coin — to tightly integrate search and classification capabilities at the point where content is created and accessed. Autonomy brings more sophisticated — and much needed — archiving and records management capabilities to this picture.
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The value of high-end search technology was demonstrated today as Microsoft offered to acquire FAST Search & Transfer for approximately $1.2b. The transaction, endorsed by FAST management and key investors, is expected to be completed in 2Q08. We see this as a good deal for FAST, a good deal for Microsoft and a good deal for customers. This is a transformative event for the enterprise search industry.
Microsoft today put itself squarely into the enterprise search market by introducing Microsoft Search Server Express 2008. You can download the release candidate from its website and give it a try if you have a Windows 2003 Server with some free space on it. It's free today, and it will be free when it goes to general release in the first quarter of 2008. Don't be fooled by its cost; this is a capable product that will get the attention of anyone considering or in the midst of a search deployment. Search Server will disrupt the strategies of clients and vendors within the already confusing search landscape. It is better than 'good enough' on many fronts, including its connectivity into Documentum and FileNet content repositories — also free — and its unified administration interface. For more insights, take a look at Forrester’s view on the release.