State of the Industry–Enterprise Search

The exhibit floor has a special pavilion for enterprise search vendors (way back in the far corner), two days of programming in one of the exhibit hall theatres on the topic, plus a track in the main conference. That’s quite a lot of coverage of this hot topic, but unfortunately it was fragmented and dominated (even in the main conference sessions) by vendors. Actually that’s an pretty good description of the industry itself: vendors in search of a market that is difficult to define and identify.

(Disclaimer: My primary priority over the next several weeks is organizing the program for Enterprise Search Summit, scheduled for May 22-24 in New York. So I was looking more closely than most attendees for people, ideas, topics, and trends, as I covered these sessions.)

If you are looking to learn how to select, implement, or manage enterprise search in your organization, Tracy Lunt from DuPont (in the last session this afternoon at 2:00) is a super speaker, not to be missed. It looks like one at the same time in the exhibit floor theatre by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu will be equally good.

On the other hand, if you follow the enterprise search industry, Angela Ashenden’s presentation yesterday in the exhibit hall theatre on The Enterprise Search Landscape was outstanding. (I suspect that quite a number of the audience were vendors, listening to learn what their future might hold!)

A senior analyst at Ovum, Angela cited the enterprise search market in 2004 at $500 million and growing to about $1.1 billion by 2009. Currently the market is dominated by small independent players, with only 4 generating more than $100 million in annual revenues. Of the top 4, Automony, Verity and Fast claim 36% of the market, and 50% of the growth in 2003-2004 came from the top players. Fast, Google, and Endeca are currently showing impressive growth.

The biggest change, and indicative of a maturing market, is the serious entry by IBM and Microsoft, and the positioning of search as infrastructure rather than as an application. She predicts these giants will shake up the market and many of the smaller players will disappear, either as they are gobbled up by the big guys or lose market share. Still, growth and technology development is dominated today by small companies and research organizations, offering opportunities to those who can seize the opportunity and grab some momentum.

Her ranking of vendors by market share in 2004 looks like this: Verity, Autonomy, and Fast, followed closely by Google. Microsoft, Endeca, Inxight, Open Text, IBM, and Convera follow those top four, in that order.

Angela concluded by acknowledging that the recent acquisition of Verity by Autonomy has shaken up the market, but that it is too soon to speculate on the impact.

Separately, Steve Arnold keynoted the Enterprise Search track this morning with a presentation on Enterprise Search in 2006. His remarks were more wide-ranging than Angela’s, and his presentation can be viewed on his web site,

Nancy Garman
Information Today, Inc.
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