Enterprises trying to cope with information access issues should be encouraged by the many recent product upgrades and the trend toward increased application integration. I've covered a number of new and improved information access solutions in recent NewsBreaks and in my NewsBreak Update column for Information Todayóincluding offerings from Endeca, Coveo, Inxight, Google, and Exalead. Siderean Software, Inc. (http://www.siderean.com), a company that aims to bridge search and business intelligence in its discovery and navigation solution, has just introduced a new version of its Seamark Navigator. The aptly named Seamark Navigator 4.0 is designed to help business users navigate, interact with, and manage all types of structured and unstructured information across the enterprise. The new version features new application integration, security, and scalability enhancements. It introduces user tagging as an organizational tool, role-based security at the facet level, and external search integration with Google's Search Appliance and Oracle's Secure Enterprise Search.
Siderean CEO Robert Petrossian commented: "Seamark Navigator 4.0 provides users with the ability to quickly gain a bird's-eye perspective of all the data that is relevant to them and allows them to intuitively navigate their way down to a bug's-eye view of the specific information they need. Our ability to aggregate and organize all of this content to provide the full scope of relevant information gives users an organized, 360-degree view of the person, place, or thing they are researching. This level of detail is unique to Seamark Navigator 4.0 and enables users to incorporate Web 2.0 capabilities into their discovery efforts for building communities of interest to enable better collaboration across the enterprise."
Petrossian stressed the differences among products such as Google's that offer just search capabilities (where users have to know what they are looking for), business intelligence (BI) products (which are "report-driven" and where users also have to know what they want), and Seamark Navigator, which helps users navigate, explore, and discover. A navigation-based product like Seamark Navigator is location- and format-independent. "No longer are enterprise users forced to make decisions based on algorithmic results lurking behind a text box; now, users can make these decisions with confidence, knowing they have considered all the relevant content and relationships they may not have known existed."
The Seamark navigation engine uses "facets" (properties, categories, features) to guide users to relevant content. The Seamark Navigator provided faceted navigation in its earlier versions, but Petrossian noted that the key distinguishing piece of the new version is the new dynamic capabilities. Seamark Navigator 4.0 stitches metadata together on-the-fly, using RDF (resource description framework), a Semantic Web specification from the W3C (http://www.w3.org/RDF). It's flexible and doesn't require data models to be fixed, he explained. Because of this, the product can illustrate unseen relationships. Products from competitors also can bridge information silos but require "considerable coding in advance and lots of heavy-lifting proprietary technology," according to Petrossian. Seamark Navigator is also a bidirectional system, in that it allows users to contribute tags.
To see Siderean's product in action, run a search on EnvironmentalHealthNews.org, a public site that uses Seamark Navigator to aggregate and organize information from news sites across the Web. A search on a keyword like "pesticide" will present the user with options to refine the results by a number of facets: type, current issue (such as environmental politics or water quality), human health condition, exposure pathway, ecological effects, publisher, date, and more. Todd Koym, program officer for the Edgerton Foundation, which helped Environmental Health Sciences launch EnvironmentalHealthNews.org, said: "We evaluated a number of search and information access solutions[,] and none came close to offering our users and visitors the value that Seamark Navigator's faceted navigation offers."
"One of the reasons the information access market is experiencing a fundamental shift is because enterprises are trying to extract more value from their information assets[,] thus demanding more features from their search vendors," said Brian Babineau, analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group. "Enterprises no longer want point solutions to facilitate one function such as enterprise search; rather, they want solutions that blend together different functions such as desktop and Web search, knowledge and content management, and analytics and Business Intelligence. Siderean helps achieve this blend, going beyond traditional search by allowing users to conduct flexible, spontaneous inquiries. Users can also interact with results to uncover relationships that help them find out what they may not know. Discovering these previously unforeseen relationships is a powerful function that gives users the scope they need to make critical business decisions. Without scope, many decisions made in business today could be compromised."
Babineau stressed the interactive aspects of the product and the "e-discovery" it makes possible. He said that using Siderean "is like adding a GPS to my car," as opposed to carrying a piece of paper in the car, printed with a map found on Yahoo! He liked that users could build their own taxonomies on the fly.
Petrossian also emphasized that Seamark Navigator is fast and easy to implement and integrate with existing applications. An out-of-the-box installation using existing clean metadata could take mere hours to install, he said. The company claims the product provides 80 percent of the functionality of business intelligence solutions at 10 percent of the cost. He said a typical starting cost for a Seamark Navigator installation would be about $100,000 to $125,000.
Concerning Google's OneBox for Enterprise announcement last week (covered in Rich Wiggins' NewsBreak today) and the potential threat to other vendors, Petrossian provided this comment: "This is a tremendous opportunity for Siderean. The news validates what Siderean has been hearing from customers for some timeóthat these classic search platforms do not blend together enough of the functionality enterprise users need to make business decisions, such as desktop and Web search, knowledge management, and business intelligence. Therefore, we see this as significant support for our direction and positioning of converging search and BI and the need for both a bird's-eye and bug's-eye view of enterprise information for better-informed decision making. The downside, however, related to this announcement for the enterprise user is this news [is] not ideal since it's combining emerging Web-based solutions with Draconian heavy-footed enterprise solutions. Siderean, on the other hand, delivers the next-generation Web-centric business intelligence application and co-exists, sitting on top of the Google appliance and any other classic search solution for that matter, to provide organization, aggregation, and navigation of that content, hence fully delivering on this trend."