Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Yahoo! Trial-Balloons Enterprise Search: Never say Never?

Some time ago Yahoo! had pretensions of making an impact in the enterprise space with tailored portals, but withdrew to focus on shoring up its core consumer-oriented businesses. On the heels of recent efforts to get its stock quotes up to business-level quality via direct sourcing comes word via ZDNet Australia that it's thinking actively about coming back to the enterprise space through potential extensions of its fomenting desktop search capabilities. Very few details and rather uncertain as to the whens and hows, but clearly this is a Google countermeasure, as are the promises in the article of considering new forms of content that can be brought to a Web audience via search engines. Yahoo! has a very successful media-oriented content strategy, but it's definitely a few steps off the pace just now in taking the more source-agnostic approach to content that's been Google's claim to fame. Yet neither of these companies seems to have done a great job of thinking about how enterprise content differs from open Web content. Google's still trying to get back on its feet with versions of its desktop search that are ready for enterprise-level security expectations and experiencing tepid acceptance of its enterprise search appliance. Yahoo! is still betting more heavily on developing itself as a media property than trying to understand enterprise content needs from the professional user's perspective. I'm not discounting entirely the suggestion that Yahoo! will move back into enterprises with a network search function, but don't expect it to be a significant factor without a great deal of careful product development. Just flipping some search code and indexing at an enterprise is not going to do much to impress them without a much deeper understanding of enterprise knowledge management needs.
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