Speaking about Search as a Service @ PROMISE Technology Transfer day, want to meet up?

Tomorrow morning I leave Gothenburg to attend the PROMISE Technology Transfer day @ CeBIT 2013 in Hanover, Germany.

The event is a workshop introducing its participants to methodologies for the systematic evaluation and monitoring of search engines, and for discussing future trends and requirements for the next generation of information access systems. In other words, it is right up our alley at Findwise.

As Director of Research at Findwise I will speak about Search as a Service. If you are at the event or just nearby I would be happy to meet up and have a chat.  I will be around from Tuesday March 5 until Thursday March 7. Feel free to email me, henrik.strindberg@findwise.com or give me a call at +46709443905.

Hope to see you there!

Findwise in Cooperation with Borås University College Receives Research Grant

In recent decades Swedish and Western industry have had to adapt to the new paradigm. Moving from classical production industry organizations towards knowledge companies in which sales of services and knowledge are often bundled with a product – resulting in a complete solution. This change is vital for the survival of the Western world’s economy which previously has been built upon organizations of heavy industrial giants optimizing production processes and factory outputs by reducing overheads and increasing quality.

The threat to the industry from low cost countries, which no longer only compete just on low cost, but also with high quality and competence, forces Western organizations to develop new strategies to sustain their growth and competitive advantage. Cutting margins in order to compete with low cost countries is a downward spiral. Instead changing the model, to be able to provide knowledge and holistic understanding of customers needs and the ability to rapidly deliver a complete solution is now becoming the key competitive advantage. This however requires investment in IT and knowledge exchange tools. By moving away from selling physical products and components to solutions higher margins are possible because more business value is exchanged in the transactions.

The organizations adapting to this change, are identifiable by the fact that they consider knowledge and information as corporate assets – treated and cared for as any other asset. One example is the Swedish company SKF Group whose new vision is the “Knowledge Engineering Company” where the company going through a change from component supplier to a holistic supplier of both products and services.

A key success factor in this transformation from products to solutions is that the supply of knowledge and information to the employees is effective, easy to use and complete. The organization succeeds in providing that extra value, thereby allowing higher margins. Historical key performing indicators (KPIs) such as factory output, reduction of defects and increasing of quality, are dealing with physical production efficiency to ensure as little cost per unit manufactured and as high quality as possible. Individuals are used to measuring these KPIs and provide a way to manage the operational production processes. The turnover and efficiency of information and knowledge exchange lacks these models and measurement tools, thereby not allowing them to be managed. What you can’t measure, you can’t manage, or improve.

One technical solution which has the capabilities to enable complete, rapid and reduced turnover time for knowledge and information exchange, is Enterprise Search. This has been recognized by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, which granted Findwise AB research funds to tackle this problem in cooperation with the College University of Borås in the Strategic Mobility program. The funded project will study the usefulness and value of a well functioning search engine for work-related information use. It will also identify performing indicators for information and knowledge exchange through search and to achieve results that systematically will illustrate the quantitative direct effects together with soft indirect effects.

The project will start early 2010 and run through the entire year. As part of the project, Dr. Katriina Byström will join Findwise and work together with Findwise employees in this joint research project. Findwise customers are invited to participate in the project and will have the availability to influence its direction. For more information on research at Findwise contact Henrik Strindberg.

About Dr. Katriina Byström
Dr. Katriina Byström is an associate professor in the Swedish School of Library and Information Science at the University College of Borås & Goteborg University, Sweden. She is one of initiators and director of the IA bachelor’s programme at Swedish School of Library and Information Science, and she is a chair for the programme with teaching involvement broadly across the curricula. Furthermore , Katriina is associate editor and co-founder at the Journal of Information Architecture. Katriina’s degree is in information studies, and her research focus on task-based information seeking, information retrieval and information architecture.

Lifestreams and Google

Google recently announced their new experimental site and it holds a feature to see search results grouped on dates, visualized in a time line, based on extracted dates from the source documents.

Simple entity extraction isn’t that complicated, especially not when it comes to keeping track of dates – some regular expressions can easy detect date formats and normalize them for any search engine to keep track. However, other vendors have at the most visualized them as dynamic navigators or just used it as metadata . The key lies in visualizing it and providing a user friendly interface, which I must say Google, again, has succeeded with. This announcement made me think of something two researchers from Yale wrote an article about in 1996.

Freeman and Gelmter (1996) introduce a new metaphor, “Lifestreams” – an idea for users to organize their own personal workspace. The concept is that everything a person creates or are involved with are attached to a lifestream, which simply is a visualized time line linked to a storage repository. Later the user can add filtering and alerting functions to monitor and summarize their the streams for easier overview or just narrow their streams down to suit their current information need.

For example, if a user wishes to add a meeting, there is no need to open up the calendar, just attach the meeting entry to the life stream in the future. Adding the proper alerting, one will still be reminded. Lifestreams are not only historical, the concept also expands into the future. Furthermore, the concept grows to having various substreams, one for your private, one for your professional, dynamically as you create it.

Furthermore Google also announced their new map search, where one could search for a almost anything and get a rough overview (of course on a map) where places related to the query is displayed highlighted on the map. It’s noticeable that Google hasn’t utilized all their content in these two experimental features, but I must say I’m really looking forward when they do. I would say that Google now are really starting showing off that they definitely are capable to deal with true contextual search.

So, what about the lifestreams? Well, the recent buzz around Enterprise 2.0 and moving the Web 2.0 with social networking and blogging inside the corporate firewalls could really learn from these three concepts. If some vendor would provide functionality for ordinary businessmen to build personal lifestreams, hook their documents, meetings and resources to it combined with easy controlled vocabulary tagging and visually on a map attaching it to location. Let’s add the last magic spice: search to aid building up enterprise historical lifestreams and provide easy access, entity extraction, filtering and alerting one would have the silver bullet. One could follow the lifestream of an organization as one follow the heartbeat of a human being. Enterprise Lifestreams of aggregated deparment lifestreams of aggregated individual lifestreams. Imagine visualizing an organizational lifestream and tap into the pulse of an enterprise organization. Imagine to share professional lifestreams with collegues and interestgroups.

Not to take over John Lennon’s role about imagine, but I feel this could the next killer enterprise application that would glue all enterprise 2.0 concepts together. This could be the next step in social networking and truly support processoriented organizations’s everyday work! What do you think? Are our enterprises ready for something like this?