A discussion of the FAST search engine which is now part of SharePoint Portal Server. We explore the business opportunities in both employee-facing and customer-facing scenarios and discuss the differences in the technology from the perspective of readers that are already familiar with SharePoint.
My previous post outlined the problem with the ‘traditional’ approach to search scoping. To explore the problem and a solution that leverages Microsoft FAST search, I’ve invented a fictitious company called Canadian Financial. That gives us some context – it is a bank with multiple geographies, lines of business, languages, and products. There are dozens of internal sites up that provide a massive amount of information required to do your job more effectively, if you can find it.
As an employee at Canadian Financial, this is what you see when you click on the search option on your Intranet:
Does this look familiar? Check out your own internal search implementation. You’ll probably find the common ‘source’ dropdown box lurking. There are two problems with this concept:
The first problem should be pretty evident. How many times have you bothered to select a source? The second problem is more subtle. Sources are defined by the content’s physical location, typically by URL. That immediately assumes that all content in a particular location can be tagged with a few words. Think about your intranet, or even a portion of it. How feasible is it to define all of the locations for training content? How about all content for a particular product? Or language? Then consider combining them: all training content for Canada in English. Not possible…
Pretty primitive, really. Is that the best we can do after 10+ years of search innovation? No. Consider that this problem has been solved already, but in a slightly different way. Hit Best Buy and find all digital cameras currently on sale by Nikon in the 10-11 megapixel range that are blue. Hmm… that was easy:
The above example is driven by FAST.
Why can’t you do this inside the Enterprise? In the next post we’ll explore how Canadian Financial can address this challenge with two concepts: