A year ago, when Vivisimo launched Velocity 6.0, it focused heavily on incorporating collaborative features into the enterprise search solution. This time around, as Vivisimo today launches Velocity 7.0 "the theme is conceptual search—it’s about discovery and personalization," says Rebecca Thompson, vice president of marketing.
Velocity 7.0 incorporates a user interface that allows the user to broaden or narrow their search terms in a transparent way. Instead of clicking a general "expand your search" button, users can select from a menu of alternatives that are designed to facilitate a more successful search. For example, if the user searches for "mobile phone" their options could include narrower terms such as iPhone or BlackBerry; broader terms like portable device or telecommunication; and synonyms such as cell phone and smart phone. Administrators can also incorporate options like suggested concepts, spelling variations, or acronyms; weight the value of different elements, which impacts the order in which results appear; and apply different configurations to personnel in different roles—parameters are established upon initial set-up, but flexible. Users then simply pick and choose what terms they would like to include in the search and click "update."
"With web search, generally people don’t go beyond the first four or five results and usually you can get to what you need there. In the enterprise world, it doesn’t work like that," says Thompson, citing the lack of features, such as popularity rankings, in enterprise search solutions. Velocity’s search takes into consideration past search behaviors, information the system has about individual users such as their titles and departments, as well as user profiles and tags the user has added to content to more accurately locate documents and information.
Enterprise searchers generally need one of two things: a specific document or piece of information, or a broad look at material related to a subject matter. Often the balance that search solutions try to find between broad and specific results is what makes them infuriating for users. Vivisimo decided allowing users to interact a bit with the back-end would enable more successful searching. "Yes the system has a lot of intelligence built in that we’re very proud of but you know what you’re doing, so we want the system to be very transparent," explains Thompson.
"Ultimately what it comes down to is that despite all of the advances in computer science, users are still frustrated because the systems can’t guess what they need," continues Thompson, adding that the emphasis on personalization came from focus groups that indicated that this was a continued source of aggravation. "With this type of functionality you’re going to reduce user frustration and people just saying, ‘Forget it; I’ll ask Jeff in the office next door and he’ll email it to me.’ "
Vivisimo’s understanding of market needs is supported by a report the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) released in July on "Findability." According to AIIM’s findings, 49% of respondents "Agreed" or "Strongly Agreed" that "Finding the information I need to do my job is difficult and time consuming" and 50 % believe that Findability within their organization is "Worse" to "Much Worse" than on their own organization's consumer-facing web sites.
"As much as we’ve all been trained to expect ‘the answer’ or (more likely) a ‘good enough’ answer by Google, the reality is that especially in an enterprise setting, users may need to expand and narrow their queries in order to get to the answer they’re looking for," says analyst Dan Keldsen, director of market intelligence for AIIM. "For users who don’t know the details of content within the enterprise, being able to use concept-based queries can help them to find those ‘needles’ that they hadn’t known the name for."
Velocity 7.0 is going into beta testing this week with a select group although the names of participants are not yet being released.
Vivisimo is also launching this week Velocity for OEM, which Thompson describes as a "very modular approach to the OEM market." Velocity for OEM ships with an application programming interface and software development kit module to enable clients to customize to their needs.