Search and Collaboration

According to the Wikipedia: “Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals — for example, an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature—by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus.”

An essential element of collaboration, at least in business, is providing information, know-how and ideas to the group. Clearly, providing the highest-quality information would be desirable. But, let’s assume that search technology wasn’t accessible for a moment. Say it was the year 1985. What information could one contribute? Likely it would be the information that was close to hand. So, the contents of one’s own files, plus those of colleagues, and perhaps information from a corporate, analyst or public library. Yep, those were the days. The impact on collaboration was significant. Off-line information collection time took days or weeks, so brainstorming, idea formation, evaluation and other collaboration tasks took time and were less well informed than now.

So, let’s fast forward to 2010, 25 years later. With today’s search technology, not only do we have virtually any bit of available information at our fingertips, but our collaborative contributions are of significantly higher quality. We can contribute our own top-of-mind ideas and also the best-practices and innovations of others. And then provide supporting information that confirms hypotheses, fleshes out details and provides multiple viewpoints. With Exalead’s CloudView search technology, we can propose adjacent undiscovered, yet contextual information as well, effectively broadening the brainstorming bandwidth of the group. An interesting example is Wikifier.

At  Dassault Systèmes, this notion of automation-enabled collaboration is a key concept. The vision is to allow the collective intelligence of a collaborative group to perceive, react and improve a joint project as represented by a body of information assembled with various automation tools like 3D and search technologies.

An essential ingredient of the DS vision is the ‘at-hand-ness’ of the information. For example, 3D simulations allow us to inspect and evaluate physical objects virtually and conveniently at our desks. Similarly, semantic search technology retrieves and condenses information to shorten time to insights, opinions and decisions. So, an essential capability of next generation collaboration systems is the minimization of effort to get to information and views that are the most relevant and essential to a collaborative group’s goal. With this minimization of effort required to assemble information, information workers can focus on the creative elements of the collaboration. You’ll be seeing more of this as we continue to advance our search-based application platform.