Search. What comes to mind when you see that word? Indiana Jones, Star Trek, Star Wars, The Davinci Code. Probably not. The first thing that probably comes to mind is a search engine on the internet. Infoseek, AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, for over three decades (sounds more impressive than 30 years), internet search has been available. But let’s back up for a moment and discuss why the internet search engine is such an incredible accomplishment. If you are under 30, prepare for a speed lesson on why search is such an amazing tool.
You Call That Search?
Card catalogs. Microfiche. Check out reserved periodicals. Pick up books on reserve. If you wrote a college term paper before 1990, then you recognize the terms above. These are the sources of information that were available. The writer had to manually review them to find the information that was relevant to their term paper topic. You could not simply enter a term and be directed to multiple information sources at your fingertips. Term papers took days and, sometimes weeks, to complete. The point here is that internet search has taken research to a level of convenience that was unheard of 30 years ago.
The Search of You.
Not you. You.com. If you have not tried the search engine at You.com, you should. Instead of listing the different options to review the search results in a menu over the search results, You.com presents the results in a “dashboard” format. The search results are presented in text, video, social media, etc. This reduces the amount of time necessary to review and select the available information sources in multiple formats. Oh, and You.com has a new writing feature. You decide what template is appropriate for your document (a term paper, proposal, letter, etc.), start writing, and You.com will transform your text into the selected document style as you write. That takes the convenience and efficiency of search to a whole new level.
MUM Is the Word.
And now, Google is redefining the search experience with MUM ( Multi Unified Model). MUM has the ability to take information from multiple searches, formulate the larger context of those searches (the big story) and offer specific steps to achieve the goal. Imagine inputting the following questions into a search engine: Is it harder to balance on a motorcycle than on a bicycle? Do a motorcycle and bicycle require the same set of skills to start and stop? Are there special roads for bicycles? Up until the third question, the logical conclusion is that the person is searching for information about a motorcycle. But the last search offers a different perspective that the separate searches would not figure out. A Multi Unified Model can. The person is searching for a bicycle, not a motorcycle. MUM would then explain how the principles behind the two experiences are similar (judge distance to brake safely, pick up speed to stay balanced, be careful to keep the center of gravity under control when dipping into a turn, etc.). Using the traditional search method, you must make assumptions by piecing the information from those results together. MUM combines all of that information to provide one experiential result.
MUM for Financial Services.
Think about the MUM applications for financial services. Suddenly learning about how to invest in the market becomes a whole different type of educational experience. The Multi Unified Model would consolidate information from experienced investors and fund managers. You define the scope of the advice. Now suppose your next set of searches are questions about retirement and the best international cities for retirement. You would then get advice on how to maximize your investments based on where you want to retire from people who have done it.
The Future of Search. Increased Efficiency. Conversational Results.
What used to take hours, days, or even weeks (for you procrastinators) to gather information can now be done in minutes. Visual screen layout improvements are making search more proficient for the end user. Search engines that present results in short text summary boxes are outdated. Today’s consumers are accustomed to websites that are graphically dynamic with information that is quickly accessible. Search engines, then, need to offer information using the same type of formats. Consider that when a product search is done on many eCommerce websites, results include pictures, directions, and even instructional videos. Search engines like You.com offer a similar experience by presenting contextual, video, and even social media results. The design improvements and inclusion of new information sources further increase the efficiency of search. But search technology is about to move beyond presenting just contextual search results. The future of search is a conversational experience—no need to figure out specific search terms or piece together the information from several queries. Personalized information in less time is the end game for today’s consumers. Just pose that idea to a conversational search engine. It would love to have that discussion with you.