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Jay Budzik from Intellext gave a great presentation about bringing the right content to the user – making it more likely that they will use what they find. Jay tells us that the burden of search is on the user. They have to decide where to search (which site, database, directory) and they have to know the system they’re searching – how often do they know the right place and the right methods?

For this reason, we need to make it easier on the user to find what he/she is looking for – and we need to make it easy! Jay mentioned that Motorola has a 5 terabyte intranet CMS and only 1% of the content is used in a year! That’s a lot of content to find that it’s not being used.

So what do we do? We can get the info to the user by providing RSS and search alert emails – but that can lead to information overload. Jay asked us how many of us actually read everything in our RSS reader every day – no one raised their hands – it’s just impossible to read everything – you learn to skim for relevant content – while that’s okay for us, we want to provide a better experience for our users.

The following quote from Barry Schwartz, the author of “The Paradox of Choice” was right on point:

As the number of choices grows, choice no longer liberates but debilitates

So how do we limit the number of choices? The answer that Intellext came up with was Watson. Watson shows relevant search results based on what you’re working on. So if you’re doing a PowerPoint on Knowledge Management, Watson will search the sites you choose (including local CMSs, Intranets, desktop search apps etc) for relevant content related to your topic. I need to tell you all that my notes now read in very big letters – VERY COOL!

This is basically an application you install on your computer that will search while you work without your input – very easy on the user. So my next thought (which is probably what you’re thinking – if you didn’t click the link yet) was – “How Much??” Watson is free if you don’t mind ads and can be purchased to remove the ads.

So, does it work? Remember the people at Motorola? Use of content went up significantly after installing Watson because the content was right there on their screen for them – no search necessary.

I’m certainly going to be installing Watson to give it a whirl – probably on my work computer.

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[update] Jay has posted his slides [/update]

One Response so far.

  1. [...] As librarians we know the answer to this question – but we were asked “Why does search matter?” The answers: The explosive growth of data has made it impossible to find anything without search capabilities and this need to find information is critial to doing business – and doing business efficiently. Exalead wants to make search easier (sounds like Intellext’s Watson – are we sensing a theme here?) – not just for the user, but for the content manager and the IT staff. [...]


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