Search Outside the Box #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Title and Description: Thinking and Searching Out of the Box

Our industry helps people retrieve information by searching, browsing, and visualizing the data stored within their content management systems. This endeavor is inherently introspective in so far as it focuses on the close analysis of an enterprise’s internal content. This talk is an exercise in thinking outside of that box. Clarke explores ways in which an enterprise’s internal content can be mined for information, even when the answers don’t always exist within the data we are querying. He discusses the use of natural language processing and semantic query expansion techniques, demonstrating the power of ontologies and machine reasoning to interrogate internal content in new and powerful ways.

Speakers:

Dave Clarke, CEO, Synaptica
Maish Nichani, Co-founder, Ola Search

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2016 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

NOTES:

  • What is the “Box”?  The box is your content collection.
  • What’s the difference between search inside and outside the “Box”? The speakers assert that you can do better job searching your internal content if you first map your content to external content.  For example, if you type in a general query or a minimalist query, the search engine needs to understand the concepts implicit in the query. If the search engine does not have the required information, the search engine will (at best) return a rather general response that may not contain the desired results. By contrast, if you map externally after the search, you can see how a similar search is handled externally. That exercise will help enrich the query, thereby giving the search engine more useful information to work with.
  • Do not think small about Search. Search is not just about locating specific content. It is also (and increasingly) about finding answers to specific questions. Google is learning that users increasingly want answers to questions (e.g., how to treat the common cold) rather than particular documents or videos.
  • Start by mapping. When you map internal content to the external content, this helps you understand better what is inside your content collection. It finds and validates information that is not already in your content collection, but that can be used to enrich both the initial user search and the results the search engine brings back.
  • How does this fit with your taxonomy?  Taxonomy and search belong together. Make sure your search engine does not ignore the taxonomy that you have built so carefully. Equally, sometimes your taxonomy does not encompass everything you need for an efficient search. So searching “outside the box” can help enrich the taxonomy and search.
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