Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Using Social Search to Drive Innovation through Collaboration

I sat in on this webinar sponsored by KM World. I was knocked over by the demonstration of Vivisimo's new Velocity 6.0 search tool.

Lynda Moulton from the Gilbane Group started off the presentation.

Clustering and federating searches is a great tool from an enterprise search tool. It comes from the machine trying to put the documents into context and groups that the machine thinks makes sense. Adding the human factor can add more value than what the machine can do. A person's annotations or tags can create more value than the machine.

One of the goals of using a social search is that it elevates discoveries into teaching moments. By sharing with the crowd what they found and they can put it into context and wrap more information around it. That way you can find it again and others can find it and reuse it.

You are more likely to go to someone in your network for help and expertise. That same behavior should carry over to tagging. You are more likely to rely on the tagging and notes from people you know and trust.

Social search can have enlightened self-interest by getting something back when you give something yourself.

Lynda recommends looking for early adopters by looking for groups that have serious information gathering needs. Start small.

This was big softball for Vivisimo to show how the new release of their product.

Next up was Rebecca Thompson from Vivisimo to showcase the release of their new Velocity 6.0 tool. She labeled as Enterprise Search 2.0.

First thing is the ability to vote on whether the item in the search result is useful. It displays the percentage of people that voted up and down. This in turn is fed back into the relevancy algorithm of the search engine. The next step is adding a rating. You can give up to five stars. It also displays the average rating and the number of votes. Administrators can get reports on the rating and use this highlight useful items and bury bad ones.

They also give the ability to tag an item in the search result. They allow both a free text and a force vocabulary. They also will auto-suggest tags. The big plus is that this adds concepts and words that do not actually appear in the text of the document. (I gave a search vendor the task of finding a purchase and sale agreement for a retail shopping center in Florida where we represented the purchaser. The words "Florida" and "retail shopping center generally would not appear in the document. Even if the word did appear it may only be once or twice in a 25+ page document. The key was tying the matter identification from the document in the document management system to the matter information in our matter tracking system.)

They allow annotations to the search items: free text with no limitation on the size. Like tagging, this allows context that does not appear in the document. It allows others to see what the document is about, without opening it.

They also allow you to saved search items into shared virtual folders, such as around topics.

They also allow searching for experts. They create an employee mashup from different sources. One item is pulling the person's tagging activity.

They also provide dashboards showing top taggers, top tags, etc.

Vivisimo thinks that web 2.0 technologies are setting higher standards for the tools within the enterprise. (I agree. I can set up a blog or a wiki for free on the Internet in 30 seconds. Why can't I do that inside the enterprise.)

I was blown away by the features of this product. I have been following enterprise search for a while as we have been shopping vendors. This product is a quantum leap above anything I have seen.


This seems to fit into the personal knowledge management theme in my post from Friday. You make it easy for the person to characterize their information, but allow this information to be shared across the enterprise.

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