Search Insights 2019 – the story behind the report

by | Mar 13, 2019 | Search

Search Insights 2018 was a response from members of The Search Network to reports from analyst companies such as Gartner and Forrester which show little understanding of the world of enterprise, e-commerce and larger-scale web site search from an implementation perspective. A recent commentary on these reports from Tony Byrne (The Real Story Group) highlights the problems. In the majority of situations where an organisation is planning to undertake a significant upgrade to its search capabilities there is very little internal expertise to call on. Just tracking down a list of potential vendors can be difficult as the reports from Gartner and Forrester are not comprehensive surveys of the vendor market.

Our objective was to share the experience that we have gathered in a wide range of projects over the last decade  across Europe and North America. One of the criteria for membership of the Network is vendor independence. Of course, we all have specializations. For example I tend to work mainly with search software vendors, Charlie Hull and Doug Turnbull have a deep knowledge of open source software and Agnes Molnar has a unique perspective on SharePoint/O365. That did not hinder me from suggesting LucidWorks to a client in France and at present Agnes and I are working together for a major chemicals company with an O365 search challenge.

The format we developed for Search Insights 2018 was that the section length would be around 1500 words and the writing style of the contributors would be respected. (It is quite a challenge working to a 1500 word limit!). For those who are interested we use Basecamp to manage the scheduling and peer-review comments on individual chapters. At the time we had no firm plans for a Search Insights 2019 report but the very positive reaction to the 2018 report soon focused our minds on 2019. We decided not to repeat any of the content from 2018, as most of it was timeless. The list of vendors has been updated, and the lists of books and blogs has been repeated, along with the Glossary.

The major change for Search Insights 2019 was inviting some Guest Contributors, and we are grateful to Karen Renshaw, Tony Russell-Rose, Jon Chamberlin, Sam Marshall and Stephanie Segura Rodas for working to a very tight schedule. Their contributions have enriched the report and covered topics where even The Search Network does not have an appropriate depth of knowledge. The release date was to have been 28 February and we were only a week late. This is a tribute to the dedication of Val Skelton as production manager and Simon Flegg as designer.

As with Search Insights 2018 there is no charge for the report, and there are no sponsors. It also does not sit behind a firewall to collect names and affiliations. The aim of the report is that you download it so that when you need help you know who to call! It does not matter which of the Network members you call. We are not in competition with each other as fortunately there is a lot of work around. 

We hope that you find what you are looking for somewhere in the report. Initial planning has already started on Search Insights 2020 based on what we had to exclude from the 2019 report for lack of space and the time to write. We are always open to suggestions for topics that need coverage, either in the 2020 edition or perhaps (as with Achieving Search Satisfaction) as a full report.

Martin White