Friday Mar 30, 2012

Consumer Oriented Search In Oracle Endeca Information Discovery - Part 2

As discussed in my last blog posting on this topic, Information Discovery, a core capability of the Oracle Endeca Information Discovery solution enables businesses to search, discover and navigate through a wide variety of big data including structured, unstructured and semi-structured data. With search as a core advanced capabilities of our product it is important to understand some of the key differences and capabilities in the underlying data store of Oracle Endeca Information Discovery and that is our Endeca Server. In the last post on this subject, we talked about Exploratory Search capabilities along with support for cascading relevance. Additional search capabilities in the Endeca Server, which differentiate from simple keyword based "search boxes" in other Information Discovery products also include:

The Endeca Server Supports Set Search. 
The Endeca Server is organized around set retrieval, which means that it looks at groups of results (all the documents that match a search), as well as the relationship of each individual result to the set. Other approaches only compute the relevance of a document by comparing the document to the search query – not by comparing the document to all the others. For example, a search for “U.S.” in another approach might match to the title of a document and get a high ranking. But what if it were a collection of government documents in which “U.S.” appeared in many titles, making that clue less meaningful? A set analysis would reveal this and be used to adjust relevance accordingly.

The Endeca Server Supports Second-Order Relvance.
Unlike simple search interfaces in traditional BI tools, which provide limited relevance ranking, such as a list of results based on key word matching, Endeca enables users to determine the most salient terms to divide up the result. Determining this second-order relevance is the key to providing effective guidance.

Support for Queries and Filters.
Search is the most common query type, but hardly complete, and users need to express a wide range of queries. Oracle Endeca Information Discovery also includes navigation, interactive visualizations, analytics, range filters, geospatial filters, and other query types that are more commonly associated with BI tools. Unlike other approaches, these queries operate across structured, semi-structured and unstructured content stored in the Endeca Server. Furthermore, this set is easily extensible because the core engine allows for pluggable features to be added.
Like a search engine, queries are answered with a results list, ranked to put the most likely matches first. Unlike “black box” relevance solutions, which generalize one strategy for everyone, we believe that optimal relevance strategies vary across domains. Therefore, it provides line-of-business owners with a set of relevance modules that let them tune the best results based on their content.
The Endeca Server query result sets are summarized, which gives users guidance on how to refine and explore further. Summaries include Guided Navigation® (a form of faceted search), maps, charts, graphs, tag clouds, concept clusters, and clarification dialogs. Users don’t explicitly ask for these summaries; Oracle Endeca Information Discovery analytic applications provide the right ones, based on configurable controls and rules. For example, the analytic application might guide a procurement agent filtering for in-stock parts by visualizing the results on a map and calculating their average fulfillment time. Furthermore, the user can interact with summaries and filters without resorting to writing complex SQL queries. The user can simply just click to add filters. Within Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, all parts of the summaries are clickable and searchable.

We are living in a search driven society where business users really seem to enjoy entering information into a search box. We do this everyday as consumers and therefore, we have gotten used to looking for that box. However, the key to getting the right results is to guide that user in a way that provides additional Discovery, beyond what they may have anticipated. This is why these important and advanced features of search inside the Endeca Server have been so important. They have helped to guide our great customers to success. 

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