The 4th annual Gilbane Conference kicked off in San Francisco yesterday. The three day conference devoted to all things content management started things off with a special keynote session devoted to search headed up by Google's VP of Engineering, Udi Manber followed by a discussion with Dan Farber of CNET and Denis Brown of the SAG group, moderated by Frank Gilbane, CEO of the Gilbane Group.
Search will Continue to Amaze
Mr. Manber'ss talk focused on the unique problems related to the holy grail of the Internet -- effective search results. Using some humorous examples of problems gone horribly wrong with results, Udi drove the point home that Google is constantly striving to improve the engine's intelligence and please the user.
He also touched a bit on Google's new site search engine for businesses, which we recently covered that allows webmasters to offer a smarter search engine on their own sites.
At the end of the talk, Udi mentioned that search will "continue to amaze" and stressed on the ease with which engineers can now create new tools to make Google, and in many ways, the experience of using the Internet, better.
Beyond Content Management
Moving on from search, the second keynote was a discussion devoted to the next big thing in the content management space, moderated by Frank Gilbane. The panelists stuck to a theme that would appear to come up over and over again in this conference: namely how to translate the more attractive aspects of "the consumer web" and using it to an advantage for the enterprise user. Security for Enterprise The biggest hurdles identified by both audience members and by the panelists: Mr. Brown and Mr. Farber, were issues of security and getting users to actually use these new programs. When Mr. Brown suggested that enterprise users may not necessarily be as savvy, Dan Farber responded that enterprise users are savvy, just very slow to adopt.
Responding to the ever constant question of how to keep all this data secure, the solutions offered by the panelists were that enterprise users need to "get creative" in the face of these new technologies. Frank Gilbane pointed out that it depended on the information, some data needs a lot of security, while others don't. Dan Brown concurred: the old approach of "one size fits all security" no longer fits. New Rules for IT? Getting creative and having to figure out new rules to fit the new technology is another theme that would come up quite a bit when the issue of whether or not this software would be supported by IT (Frank Gilbane did an informal survey of the audience and saw that of those using social software in business -- a small amount to begin with -- an even smaller amount had IT support for these ventures). The overall thought was that users are now much more comfortable with technology than they were 10 or 15 years ago, and they aren't necessarily going to run to the IT department to fix every single problem they may have.
The discussion ended with each panelist talking about new developments they were interested in: Dan Farber appears very excited about the bigger use of semantic technology and its use of data in a smarter way, as well as the increasing popularity of SaaS solutions. Both panelists agreed that the move to hosted solutions was inevitable and even went so far as to say that 10 years from now, this will be the dominant mode of getting web services. However, once again, the problem is that the enterprise is slow to move and slow to change.