Recently I’ve been looking at the new search technology from SearchMe which gives users the ability to view their search results graphically. The system is currently in public beta. Users have the ability to view the web pages that include the words for which they searched. After finding an image that might be relevant, users can then open the respective page in a normal browser.
I liked the user interface (UI) that was used to search the web. I realized that the image of a web page was able to show me information that I would be unable to ascertain based on a textual snippet. There are visual cues (style of page, how many images, etc.) that we can’t see via text but which are instantly obvious when you see the page.
SearchMe reminded me of some scenes in the movie “Minority Report” where Tom Cruise is using a dashboard to look for details of a “future crime”. Tom pushes, pulls, digs through different sorts of information trying to find the address of where the crime takes place.
I then realized that a similar problem often exists when users are searching for data in a corporate arena – especially when the data is stored in various repositories or takes different forms (text, data, drawings, business objects, etc). SAP is moving in the right direction with its TREX-based NetWeaver Enterprise Search in that it deals with different information sources from ERP , portal, etc and presents them to the user in one unified view. What I would like is to combine the UI from SearchMe with the data from the NetWeaver Enterprise Search. Imagine searching for a project and then being able to scan through images of engineering drawing, project plans, invoices, etc. Just as in Searchme with its “categories„ -that restrict the search results-, you might have categories such „invoices”, engineering diagrams”, etc.
Of course, one question is how do you visualize some of the information returned by the search. For an invoice, you might see the scanned image of the invoice. A drawing might also be relatively easy. But what about a business object with its data in a R3 system that appears in the hit list?
I think a combination of the two technologies would be an excellent example of technology that originates in the Internet but definitely has relevance in the corporate arena as well.