Cognitive Search: Understanding Intent Improves Results

If you’re a millennial, you don’t remember the bad old days of enterprise search. It was high on the scale of frustration. You often couldn’t find what you were looking for. And, if you did, it probably took a long time. But then, thankfully, Google happened.

Cognitive Search

Googol—1 Followed by 100 Zeroes

Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched Google in 1997. Hey, Google will be 20 in September. It’s no longer a surly teenager! Speaking of, where did they come up with the name Google anyway?

Well, leave it to a couple of brainiacs to make “a play on the word ‘googol,’ a mathematical term for the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros.” Once Serge and Larry got started, much web crawling and many algorithms ensued. And search as we knew it was over.

Searching—No Experience Required

Google made it easy to find things, even if you didn’t know anything about searching. Boolean query language became a relic. Not really. But Google’s backend took care of all that and it dragged the rest of the search industry with it.

Google’s users didn’t care about the science behind it. They just knew that it worked and seemed to get more and more accurate. Next, they began to expect Google-like speed and accuracy wherever they went on the Web. Then at work, when looking for information behind the company firewall.

To keep up with expectations, commercial search providers needed to seriously raise their games. And they have.

In fact, search has improved the point that it’s often embedded in many applications. And, as Jim Jackson of MaxxCAT explains, “What is becoming more and more important is the ability of a search solution to index fast amounts of disparate data from many sources, and to make sense of it…”

The Search for Meaning

Of course, users want relevant results from their search queries. But, in addition, they want their search tool to “understand” what their queries mean based on context. In other words, know the difference between what was expressed in the query and what was intended.

All search at some point can be reduced to math. But understanding relevance based on context and intent is a math problem of a much higher order that simply returning all the documents that contain a keyword or phrase.

So, what  we want from search is an easier path to greater meaning—and that has spawned cognitive search. To find out what cognitive search is all about, check our 5-minute Guide on the Path to Cognitive Search.

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