Gathering the essential information needed to make the right decisions for your business comes down to two different methods — search and discovery. Search is great, as long as you already know what you’re after. All you have to do is keep hunting until you find it. Discovery, however, is in another category altogether. With discovery, you’re suddenly presented information you didn’t even know you were looking for. This material could reveal valuable hidden knowledge as well as enable a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
The contrast couldn’t be starker. Discovery seems infinitely more magical — you come upon something you didn’t know existed and yet it turns out to be something you really want. You’re able to fulfill a need before you even knew you had it. Search, on the other hand, is more of a laborious effort.. First, you must fumble around trying to find the right keywords to get exactly what you need out of a search engine. It feels like you are playing a game, “outguess the search engine, sometimes. Then, you have to browse through endless pages of links and, one-by-one, click on those which may or may not be useful. It’s a startlingly inefficient process and most users abandon the effort pretty early on, going with the first more or less okay document they come to. –I call this search process “hope for amazing good luck” – and it is one that most of us have taken for granted over the years, because it was the only one available.
At least until machine learning entered the picture.
If you have a Google account and stay logged-in, you have probably noticed content recommendations appearing below the search box when you visit Google.com. Google does the same with YouTube recommendations if you are logged in when viewing videos.
What’s clear from both these examples is machine learning provides the insight necessary to anticipate needs and deliver on them. Google is of course, a pioneer in machine learning and has contributed their key machine learning algorithms as open source code to the community of independent software developers that includes Northern Light. As Duane Forrester, vice president of industry insights at Yext, puts it, “Search works well when I have a specific keyword and it matches something specific and I get that result back—that’s a well-trodden path. Discovery is more about… putting [content] in front of you as a part of your journey and you may not be aware [you’re] looking for A, B or C…Discovery becomes our next frontier, if you will.”
It’s also the next frontier in market research and competitive intelligence. When your company has a machine learning-enabled knowledge management platform at its disposal, discovery becomes more and more the order of the day, and traditional time-consuming searches become less and less necessary. Over time, machine learning algorithms learn user and organizational preferences to serve up key insights, combining the best of human and machine intelligence to find information companies desperately need and often don’t even know exists down in there in the thousands of market research reports the company has. Through its ability to dig deeper, more quickly and more intelligently than the traditional search engine ever could, machine learning mines hidden treasure-troves of market information and intelligence which otherwise might never have been found in time to influence the decisions the team is working on.
At Northern Light, we know firsthand how powerful a benefit this can be to a company. We’ve repeatedly heard from our clients how they saved millions of dollars and sped up their product development by months and years, all through the magic of knowledge-driven discovery. Other clients have told us our SinglePoint platform has given them an edge in the marketplace they never enjoyed before, because they can track their competitors’ future plans. When you ask a human “What’s Oracle’s strategy in the cloud computing market?” that person is only going to be able to give you their best guess. When you ask a machine learning-enabled research portal that same question, it is going to write a report for you about where Oracle is heading is heading in cloud computing and what Oracle’s business strategy is.
The joy of discovery comes from finding new and exciting things you didn’t know existed. Machine learning enables that joy each and every day.