Shibabrata Mondal - 13/Mar/2016

Information Discovery or Search?


To Discover or to Search, that is the question.

I am asking this question specifically in the context of information within an enterprise. But before getting into that let’s look at how this has evolved in mankind’s recent history.

The Internet: Browse the web (mid 1990s) -> Search (early 2000s) -> google news (mid 2000s) -> now getting all news from facebook and linkedin

The world wide web was created with the vision of interlinked set of information that we browsed and discovered.

However, with the increase in the amount of information available on the world wide web, it was impossible for users to browse all the information. For publishers of information it was difficult to get attention from consumers. For a while portals like Yahoo, attempted to solve the problem of connecting consumers of information with source of information. Portals were manually created categorized listing of websites. It worked for a brief period.

Search was the answer. Initially search quality was the issue that still kept portals relevant. Google with its innovative algorithms changed that and accelerated the death of portals. Thus began our journey of algorithms connecting us with information.

Search was the beginning. While it is still a dominant mechanism of information consumption, News Feeds are the new generation of algorithms connecting information producers with consumers. Google news started the trend. Now it is accelerating with news from Facebook, Linkedin and other social applications.

Commerce: How the experience changed from the local store to Amazon and Netflix to recommendation

Do you remember walking inside a bookstore or a blockbuster (the video store) and browsing through the shelves? That was a form of wanderlust and discovery.

But then came Amazon and Netflix. Browsing for books online was a much enhanced form of wanderlust. Search was added for good measure.

But very soon it became a case of information overload: there are so many books and movies. We needed a trust worthy friend to recommend to us what to read and watch. Both Amazon and Netflix obliged. They became the smart and well informed friend for us, recommending books and movies we should watch.

The Enterprise

In the past technology typically originated in government or defense labs, then made its appearance in the enterprise, and finally made its way to the consumer market. However in recent years, specially in the area of collaboration, communication, and information retrieval and sharing, technologies in the consumer space have made tremendous progress.

Any software developer who has worked on open source technologies as well as proprietary technologies will vouch for that fact that finding information on open source technologies is far easier than finding information about a company’s own proprietary technology.

In order to change this, enterprises need to adopt modern technologies for information storage, retrieval, sharing and discovery.

What constitutes information within an enterprise?

  • Documents and updates to documents
  • All forms of communications: IM, email, announcements
  • Meeting Minutes, Decisions, Notes and Action Items
  • Conversations in discussion boards
  • Status of projects and tasks
  • Who is doing what and how that impacts one’s own work
  • How one’s own work impacts others
  • For Software Developers: bug reports, code review comments and checkin logs

Today’s modern enterprise not only needs all these information easily searchable, but it needs all the information collated, summarized and delivered to the right people at the right time. Enterprises that have all the right information with all its workforce at all times will be more innovative and outdistance itself from its competitors.

Additionally, in today’s increasingly mobile workforce there is a greater need for information discovery. Gone are the days where enterprises comprised of groups of people with tribal knowledge of what one needs to know and where to find them. Today people move in and out of job roles at a much faster rate.

Try out Wizergos Meeting Management tool to learn more about how we can help solve the information discovery and sharing problem in your enterprise.

Shibabrata Mondal