In the enterprise, it’s become clear that search is just not enough. Beyond locating and retrieving documents, users need information discovery and analysis capabilities, as well as the ability to integrate these with other enterprise applications. Endeca Technologies, Inc. (http://www.endeca.com) is one company that has been at the forefront of providing "Guided Navigation" technologies that lead enterprise users to greater intelligence and productivity. Endeca has just announced the next generation of its Information Access Platform with new MDEX Engine technology and a new and expanded set of Market Solutions including Retail, Media & Publishing, Manufacturing & Distributing, and Government. The move serves to simplify the company’s product lines while expanding its vertical offerings.
Endeca said the new enterprise-class platform provides new scalability, reliability, and security, while the metarelational architecture (not an inverted index model) of the MDEX Engine provides a "fundamentally better user experience," reveals content relationships, and encourages exploration and discovery. The new solutions are designed to offer Global 1200 businesses and public-sector organizations the benefits and versatility of a platform combined with the rich features of specialized software applications.
"In the era of Google, search engines have become synonymous with the act of ‘searching’ for information. But the related activities people employ for information-based problem solving—searching content, browsing through files, comparing similar information, performing ad hoc analysis—today are serviced by disparate technology markets and require lengthy discovery efforts," said Steve Papa, founder and chairman of Endeca. "Endeca was the first company to offer a single, unified approach to these complementary activities and the business processes they support. The Endeca Information Access platform represents the next step in our vision to bring this approach to virtually every activity where high-value information supports decision making."
Endeca is one of the companies that stands out for its ability to handle diverse enterprise information, both unstructured full-text content and structured data. "The markets for content and data access technologies—once clearly distinct camps—are rapidly converging. And with good reason, since they all seek to solve the same problem—finding and understanding information across the enterprise," said Sue Feldman, vice president of content technologies at IDC. "We expect this new opportunity and market to reach into multiple billions of dollars by the end of the decade, far exceeding today’s $900 million enterprise search market. Endeca’s new approach positions them well to capitalize on the converged markets."
Feldman likes the idea of a single platform with specific products built on top. Here’s how Endeca describes what the platform provides. The Endeca Information Access Platform "has been designed in every detail around end-user features that support human information seeking behavior, while at the same time, always optimizing for demanding IT requirements on scalability, rapid application development, and low total cost of ownership. From a high-level view, data flows from original sources of all types through the Information Transformation Layer, where it is configured, modeled, and indexed. The resulting indices are then loaded onto the Endeca MDEX Engine for high-performance querying by end-user applications through the Endeca Presentation API." The transformation process incorporates classification, entity extraction, and taxonomy generation and allows editorial control as to how metadata and other structured and unstructured information will be transformed into Guided Navigation.
Endeca’s branded products (InFront, ProFind, and Latitude) have shared a common underlying platform (The Endeca Navigation Engine). InFront included a collection of standard and premium (optional) modules that were designed exclusively for e-commerce applications. ProFind did the same for content-heavy applications (Web site search, enterprise search, etc.). Latitude added visualization, analytics, and aggregation for self-serve business intelligence and analytics applications. Now, these product names have disappeared and customers will use the new core Information Access Platform with its MDEX Engine plus whatever market solution is required.
Paul Sonderegger, director of strategy at Endeca, said that the division between e-commerce and enterprise applications didn’t make sense in the changing landscape of enterprise search. In fact, he said, what Gartner analysts used to call "enterprise search" has now been renamed "information access."
Sonderegger said Endeca defines information access as "a human-centric approach to making information convenient and usable." He said that Endeca relies on three insights in making information access a reality.
- Only people can judge relevance. Machines calculate evidence.
- Structured relationships keep the evidence in context.
- Business processes improve with better evidence.
Endeca will now be able to offer customers even greater flexibility through the blending of information access technology, which includes search, navigation, and content spotlighting. Sonderegger said the company has a full migration path worked out for its customers.
Endeca has shown impressive growth of more than 142 CAGR (compound annual growth rate) in revenues since 2002. It now has about 250 employees and boasts some 265 large customers. Endeca’s customers include a wide range of enterprises, including retailers (The Home Depot, Walmart.com); financial services (ABN AMRO, Bank of America, Putnam Investments); manufacturing and distribution (IBM, Boeing, John Deere); media and publishing (World Book, The Guardian, Cox Newspapers) and government (the Library of Congress, NASA, and the National Cancer Institute). Endeca is a private company headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.
Endeca reports some fairly compelling customer success stories. For The Home Depot’s Web site, Endeca replaced an ineffective enterprise search platform with the Endeca platform, providing new site navigation that builds paths on the fly and provides contextual promotions. The changes resulted in a 30 percent increase in conversion rates in only 2 weeks. IBM deployed seven Endeca applications over the last several years. The latest was for the company’s Business Consulting Services group to improve project staffing. The time required to staff projects has been reduced from weeks to days. The estimated savings is $500 million in the first year alone.
Last December, EBSCO Subscription Services, a division of EBSCO Information Services, and MetaPress, a division of EBSCO Industries, Inc., selected the Endeca platform to power multiple customer-facing applications. In making the announcement, John Fitts, vice president and general manager of EBSCO’s Information Systems and Services department, commented: "The Endeca platform will help deliver a compelling user experience while providing simple, powerful tools to create and configure new applications. Endeca was the only vendor we looked at that could offer this combination."
While other enterprise search—or information access—vendors are certainly not sitting still and will continue to enhance their platforms as well, Endeca is meeting the needs of some important enterprise customers. It looks like a bright future for the company. Enterprise users should greet these next generation platforms enthusiastically.