Our last blog provided useful tips for using your site’s Search Analytics to improve your bottom line during the Holiday Season. Creating an optimized shopping experience for your customers will be a gift to your business accounts as well as your customers. This blog post is the second in the series of posts that will lay out best practices and tips as you prepare your eCommerce site for the biggest commercial period of the year.
(Message from the CEO of EasyAsk, Craig Bassin)
Looks like this is the beginning of the end for keyword search. You’ve probably seen a number of articles discussing Google’s shift to ‘semantic search’. Anyone understand what that REALLY means? First, the definition of ‘semantic search’ is an understanding of the ‘intent’, or meaning, of the search, rather than just matching the keywords.
Now why would the undisputed 800-pound gorilla of keyword search, change course at this late date? Conventional wisdom says they were forced to take a hard look after Apple launched Siri. The timing sure seems to reinforce the fact that they’ve been playing with semantic search for some time, but needed to make a marketing splash now.
So, why change? Well, obviously it’s a BETTER way to search and they had to, or they wouldn’t have! I mean, really, Google acknowledging the limitations of keyword search?
Quoting from Paul Demery’s recent article (to read it, click here) about Google’s adoption of semantic search in Internet Retailer, ‘“Semantic search should allow Google as well as other search engines to better understand the true user intent of a search query,” says Kevin Lee, CEO of search marketing firm Didit.
Also, quoting from the same article: “Every day, we’re improving our ability to give you the best answers to your questions as quickly as possible,” Amit Singhal, Google’s head of search technology, said in a blog post. “In doing so, we convert raw data into knowledge for millions of users around the world. But our ability to deliver this experience is a function of our understanding your question and also truly understanding all the data that’s out there. And right now, our understanding is pretty darn limited. Ask us for ‘the 10 deepest lakes in the U.S,’ and we’ll give you decent results based on those keywords, but not necessarily because we understand what depth is or what a lake is.”
Now, understanding ‘intent’ AND ‘content’ is something that is at the very core of who EasyAsk is and how EasyAsk searches. It’s the idea that, in an e-commerce setting, you can search for ‘men’s dress shirts under $30’ or ‘ladies red pumps size 6’ and get EXACTLY what you’re looking for. Natural language understands the semantics involved in the search. We understand the ‘intent’ of the question, we understand the ‘content’ of the data. In adopting a new ‘semantic’ architecture Google will start to understand the ‘intent’ piece as well.
Now which of these companies can help you improve your e-commerce site?
None of them.
No, no, no and no. Strictly keyword search. Old news. Yesterday’s tech.
So we want to be the first to welcome Google. We like them, use them all the time for internet search, along with Bing. But when it comes to e-commerce search, folks, EasyAsk is leading the way. Let us show you how.
It’s what we do.
You’re currently a customer of Endeca. Your site has been expensive to maintain, but it has worked well enough and you see no need to make a change. Recently however, changes have been made to the company who runs your search. Changes that could affect your relationship and your ability to do business.
In October of 2011, Oracle acquired Endeca, a leading provider of unstructured data management, Web commerce and business intelligence solutions. A year before that, they acquired the Art Technology Group, Inc. (ATG), an e-commerce software platform that is one of the industry’s top-ranked, commerce solutions. Essentially packaging a search and platform duo. But… What if you don’t own both pieces of the puzzle? What if you’re an Endeca customer, but not an ATG customer? Is your site in danger? Is your business in danger?
Before Oracle acquired these pieces of technology, Endeca and ATG were open – meaning they worked cooperatively with other solutions in the market. Didn’t matter who you had for an e-commerce platform, be it Magento, IBM’s WebSphere, in-house, etc., you could still work with Endeca.
Is that still the case?
If recent history proves prophetic, then probably not. Oracle has a history of closing the proprietary loop when they acquire a company, making them a part of the Oracle stack. If you are inside that stack, then your feeling of security should be warm-and-fuzzy. But what if you’re not inside the loop? What if you’re currently using Endeca for your search and have a platform not named ATG? Will Endeca continue to fit? Should you be concerned?
If you are concerned and don’t feel like being at the mercy of Oracle, what can you do about it?
Here’s the good news:
You do have options and one of them can kill two birds with one stone: Get out from under Oracle’s thumb and upgrade your search by switching to EasyAsk. EasyAsk provides a user-friendly and cost-effective way to make complex business data accessible to anyone. With EasyAsk’s natural language engine, it’s Apple’s Siri and IBM’s Watson rolled into one best-of-breed, site-search, navigation and merchandising tool.
In other words, it’s common sense brought to search. It also happens to be platform-agnostic, easy to maintain, plus it puts the power in the hands of the merchandisers, costing far less than Endeca, and touting the lowest total cost of ownership in the business. To learn more about e-commerce search and how it can impact your site, please read our paper, The ABC’s of E-Commerce Search.
So… You’re an Endeca customer, but you are also now a customer of Oracle, the 4th largest software company in the world. Will your company get lost in the shuffle? Maybe yes, maybe no, and you’re welcome to stick around and find out, but… Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to “Find, Analyze, and Understand” that it’s time to switch to a Search That Means Business.
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Endeca goes to Oracle. Now that is big news. I’ve read nine articles analyzing the acquisition and they all paint the same picture: good news for Oracle’s BI solutions; an enhanced Oracle BI architecture with Endeca’s ability to integrate unstructured data; new functionality for Oracle BI in analyzing data from Hadoop.
The consensus is clear: the Endeca acquisition was driven by the need for Oracle to expand its BI solutions and have more offerings to sell to existing Oracle customers.
But does anyone remember when Endeca was an e-commerce search company? What about that segment of their customer base? What should Endeca e-commerce customers expect?
The acquisition news is fresh, so there is little solid information beyond a few comments expecting an integration of Endeca’s search and merchandizing with Oracle’s ATG platform. Does this imply that ATG will become the primary, or even only e-commerce platform which Endeca supports? Where does this leave customers using Endeca with other e-commerce platforms (WebSphere, Magento, others)? With all the focus on the BI aspect of this announcement, I’m not sure anyone knows the answer. . . yet!
What I can tell you is this – Endeca e-commerce customers should not be surprised if they’re treated as second-class citizens. A recent study by Computer Economics found that “42% of Oracle (ORCL) customers are dissatisfied with the quality of Oracle’s support while 58% are dissatisfied with the cost of the support.” And that was for traditional Oracle customers! What about Endeca customers coming into the fold? What about Endeca SaaS customers? Who knows?
What I can tell you for certain is that EasyAsk believes in customer satisfaction. Or as Ford Motors used to say it is ‘JOB 1’. Since we spun EasyAsk from Progress Software back in ’09, we’ve made sure our ALL our customers know how important they are to us and how committed we are to making them successful.
Providing the very best search and merchandizing technology is what EasyAsk is all about. We can deploy in a fraction of the time it takes for a traditional Endeca site and typically ¼ the costs.
Our natural language based search provides dramatically better results, while our merchandizing tools are so intuitive and easy to use you can return control of your e-commerce merchandizing to the experts – your merchandizers.
This is why NetSuite, Magento and Infor were excited to partner with EasyAsk. We provide IBM Watson-like natural language functionality that is intuitive and optimized for customers and end users. With EasyAsk powering you search, when a visitor searches for a product they get the right result the first time, every time.
Congratulations to Endeca on their sale to Oracle. I’m sure they knocked it out of the park. Congratulations to Endeca’s investors and to their employees.
For Endeca’s e-commerce customers however, this might be a different story. If you are looking for best of breed search technology, remember that EasyAsk is here for you too.
Thanks for listening,