Archive for April, 2011

An introduction to search-based applications

Search Based Applications (SBA) are applications based on search engines. They are designed for users who want to discover and analyse information. They usually require processing large amounts of data, processing data in real-time or handling unstructured or semi-structured data, among others. To handle these requirements, they benefit from the appropriate processes already used by search engines (scalable foundations and natural language processing, for example).
Input data can be structured (databases…) but also unstructured (Office documents, PDF, mails…) or even coming from other applications (ERP, CRM, intranet, extranet…).

Unlike traditional search engines, SBA provide ad-hoc interfaces to data (dashboards, mashups…), so that the user can access the right information without necessarily having to perform requests manually (in the context of BI, for example, it allows him to take the good decision on time by giving him a relevant view of the data).

Notice the difference between discovering and searching: when searching, the user knows what he is looking for; when discovering, he starts by searching something, which brings him to a final point he may not have expected. Think about it: discovering is what we need when taking decisions. Why? Because even if we know what information we need we may not know how to get it. Discovering helps users to take better decisions.

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