"Search and Analytics" was the topic at the SDForum Business Intelligence SIG yesterday evening where Sajjad Jaffer, co-founder of Mercatrix spoke. The presentation covered the search space describing the latest trends in search with the intent of convincing us that Search is not over. Although one company dominates internet search now this was not always the case and it need not be the case in the future.
There are hundreds of startups with available products that are working on improving search. Sajjad talked us through the usual suspects like media search, semantic search and the use of crowdsourcing to improve relevancy. He also pointed out some interesting analytic resources on the web like Google Trends and Yahoo! Buzz.
The meat of the talk came a the end where Sajjad argued that traditional Business Intelligence spends too much time looking inwards to operational data from the business. For example, if the analytics looked out to what others are saying about their products, the business may be able to react more quickly than wait until product returns and slow sales told them they had a problem with the product.
While I agree that the web can be used for analytics, I am skeptical because there are also some huge hurdles. One problem is that large search companies can show off aggregated results of their most popular queries as in Yahoo! Buzz but any attempt to provide more narrow results that would be of use to a particular business will run into privacy and other problems.
I may be proved wrong. From what I can can make out of Mercatrix, its business is to provide internet search based analytics to companies.