Two Predictions for Enterprise Search

David Heinemeier Hansson and John Battelle have predictions pointing in opposite directions for enterprise search.

David’s prediction covers all enterprise software:

Enterprise will follow legacy to become a common insult among software creators and users.

John’s prediction is specific to search:

Enterprise search will show us a few new approaches to consumer search, and vice versa. In fact, we may get to the point where the two are often indistinguishable.

I disagree with both of them. Enterprise search and WWW search are more different than they seem. Yes, there is a bit of cross-fertilization, but each one has critical problems that just don’t exist for the other. WWW search engines must fight spam, sell ads, and deal with insane scale. For enterprise search, access to repositories, security, and ease of admin are essential.

Will WWW search and enterprise search be indistinguishable? Yes, for end users. Each one already has a box, a button, and a result list. Underneath, they are quite different, like two antibiotics designed for different kinds of bacteria. They may look the same, but you’d better pick the one designed for your problem.

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