I talked with Brian Goodman about Search Patterns. As manager of IBM's WebAhead Lab, Brian identifies and develops emerging technologies (6 to 18 month time horizon) that can be applied to solve real business problems.
During the past year, Brian's group has focused on building social spaces (e.g., blogs, wikis) and platforms (e.g., tools for bookmarking, tagging, rating, and reputation management) that support integration. For instance, they designed an enterprise tagging system with widgets that can be integrated into any service.
This platform approach has enabled the integration of social content into enterprise search. The first step was a portlet (on the side of result pages) featuring blog posts and bookmarked articles. Subsequent adoption and satisfaction were higher than expected.
The team then went further by integrating social data (e.g., ratings, tag frequency) directly into the algorithms for enterprise search. A page that's been bookmarked, for instance, receives a boost. In similar fashion to Google's PageRank, this approach to socially influenced search improves both result relevance and user satisfaction.
Other highlights (notes not quotes) from my conversation with Brian include:
- Created a recommender system that leverages folksonomies and taxonomies (which are deconstructed into tags). Users can subscribe to tags and taggers (people). The recommendations are surprisingly good.
- Created a reputation system built on peer review and feedback that became a fantastic source of data for expertise search (which is also integrated into enterprise search).
- These tools help people identify content and individuals they wouldn't normally find by searching.
Looking ahead in search, Brian sees more personalization, and a profound need for new interaction models that make complex queries simple.