The future of search is found.
That may be a truism … sort of like a classic rock song: an oldy but a goody. But let’s unpack it a little.
I started this series on connecting buyers and sellers a couple of months ago. In the first article, I talked about how companies make money. Mostly, they either:
- make stuff
- provide services
- connect buyers and sellers
The third group, the connectors, have the opportunity to make the most money because they operate across business categories. (Unfortunately it’s hard to successfully layer across too many verticals, which is why Google is now verticalizing search … e.g., boutiques.com)
In the second article, I talked about companies that are working to own layers across the entire web which will enable them to know you, and secondly know a virtual representation of the world (including the commercial world, where money and goods and services are exchanged), and thirdly connect the two … thereby earning the right to “make a piece” (of the action) on every transaction.
I said that:
- Google owns the intention graph (what do people want)
- Facebook owns the social graph (who do people know/like)
- Twitter owns the interest graph (what are people interested in)
And today, I’ve said that the future of search is found. But not really. Actually, the future of search is done … a big red Easy button for life.
Web -> Directory -> Search engine -> ???
In the beginning you had the web. It was cool and good and most excellent.
Unfortunately, there came to be a time when there was just simply too much of it, and you needed a map. Enter stage right: directories … human-edited maps of what was, so you could traverse a neat Dewey-Decimalish system and find what you wanted. Ergo, Yahoo!
Quite astonishingly, the web continued to grow at ridiculous rates, and human-edited directories couldn’t keep track. Enter algorithms, and spiders … automated tools for finding, cataloging, and retrieving all the knowledge that’s fit to post. Hence Google.
Google is amazing, Google is marvelous, Google is incredible.
But Google is not enough.
‘Cause it’s not just about finding stuff. Who cares, abstractly, about finding stuff? The reason you do the search for dentists in Detroit is not to find a list of dentists in Detroit.
You search for dentists in Detroit to find a dentist in Detroit, yes. But your actual search intent is only a part of your larger goal intent … and your goal intent is to find A dentist in Detroit (a good one, maybe the best one) and then to get an appointment with said dentist in Detroit … and then to get a root canal, remove an impacted wisdom tooth, or whatever your pleasure might be.
So the progression is as follows:
Web -> Directory -> Search Engine -> Action Engine
So the tools of the future are not about finding you lists of stuff. They’re about actuating desires in your life.
Hence the mention of Siri in the second installment of our little journey through the future (and the past) of commerce. It’s about tools to make our lives simpler. Because we all know about the paradox of choice.
More is less
As Barry Schwarz has shown us, more information is less value. Less value as far as happiness and quality of life is concerned, at least.
More results (millions on Google for everything) means more choices. More choices means more stress … both before a purchase/click initiation (which is the right decision?!?) and after the purchase/click completion (was that really the right decision?!? was there a better XYZ to get/do/use?!?).
So a truly empowering technology will transform intention into action … and manage many if not most of the complexities (quality, reputation, efficiency, effectiveness, etc.) for us.
We’re ready for the Action Engine. Who’s going to build it for us?