FASTforward: Next-Generation Innovation in Search

It’s the first session after lunch, and the first time that we’ve heard an actual FAST presentation, by Bjørn Olstad, their CTO, discussing next-generation innovation in search technology.

They have segmented their audience into two main groups:

  • Monetization, which is driving revenue by creating unique user experiences that match customers to relevant assets
  • Enterprise, which is driving productivity by creating unique user experiences unlocking actionable information across data silos

Unlike traditional content management systems, search focuses on the intentions of the consumers of the content, not the creators of the content. The search experience should constantly be evolving based on what the consumers are searching for and what they’re doing with the results, plus the constantly changing data underlying the search.

He looked at search as a research portal within an enterprise — which is also covered in a breakout session later today — and other uses that don’t fall into the “search box” view of search. Search is becoming the portal for user interaction, mapping the user intent onto the available content.

We then saw a demo of the new Content Integration Studio, which allows for an easy mapping of reader (data sources) to writer (consumption mechanism): a bit like using Yahoo Pipes to create a graphical mapping from inputs to outputs with various filters and transformations along the way, but using corporate databases and a wide variety of internal and external data sources. You can debug the flow on the fly, setting breakpoints then examining and/or changing data at the breakpoints to see how information will flow through.

They also have some new indexing and contextual matching algorithms in a new search core that allow for near-real-time availability of new content, which is essential for their media/news clients. They’re also providing tools for creating search-based portals to allow search to be the fundamental driver of the user interaction, and provide very customized experiences so that individual users will be presented with different content in their view of the portal.

2 thoughts on “FASTforward: Next-Generation Innovation in Search”

  1. All very nice, but not at all progressive. True content-consumer based search must be integrated with the consumers information use model to provide optimal contextual knowledge delivery. In effect, you could say that the future of search lies in its elimination.

  2. I found some of the things that their customers are doing to be quite innovative (although search is not my area of specialization so possibly I’m off the mark here). Driving content in portals — what Clare Hart referred to as search without the search box — and the application integration case that I saw on the last day. In both cases, search was buried in the inherent functionality, not an explicit user feature: is that what you mean by the elimination of search?

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