Swiftype started out helping publishers like TechCrunch offer better site search, but it’s been expanding into other areas like customer support and e-commerce. Now it’s making its biggest leap yet, with the launch of an enterprise search product.
Basically, Swiftype is offering large and small businesses a place where they can search all their documents and files across a variety of services. (Google just announced a Cloud Search offering, but it only searches across Google products.)
“All these disparate sources are causing most of the knowledge inside companies to be fragmented,” argued co-founder and CEO Matt Riley.
So Swiftype search connects with Dropbox, Office 365, Google’s G Suite, Zendesk and more. (There’s also an API allowing customers to connect with custom data sources.) At the same time, simply bringing all those services together in one search interface is just “table stakes,” Riley said.
Where things get more interesting is in how Swiftype’s artificial intelligence can look at all the data and build what co-founder and CTO Quin Hoxie called an “enterprise knowledge graph,” which in turn improves the search experience.
For one thing, it’s not just searching for keywords, but also interpreting your queries in a sophisticated way — for example, it understands when you’re looking for “contacts” or “recent docs” even when those words aren’t used in the documents themselves.
For another, it can structure the data in useful ways — if you’re searching for contacts at a given company, Swiftype can also present a card summarizing all information your team has collected about that company. Swiftype also creates a summary of relevant information from each document, so you may not need to open them at all.
This is particularly important because Swiftype isn’t just looking to create a desktop search experience. It’s also built a mobile app and is working to integrate with Slack — environments where you don’t have time to fiddle with a bunch of different filters or browse a bunch of different pages, so it needs to understand complex queries and surface the most important information from documents.
And there’s a browser plug-in too, where related content recommendations could be particularly useful — imagine opening a sales or customer service profile and seeing related documents pop up. Ideally, Riley said, the sales or customer service team might never have to go to Swiftype at all.
Riley also noted that Swiftype set-up is a much simpler process than installing a traditional enterprise search appliance, which can take many months. With Swiftype, administrators just log in to connect any company-wide services, while individual users connect their individual accounts, and then you’re good to go.Obviously, bringing together all these company files and documents creates questions about security. Hoxie said that Swiftype offers detailed controls over who gets access — you can limit access to the office network, or approve individual devices — and has also been careful about making sure users can only see the documents that they should have access to.
To be clear, Swiftype isn’t abandoning its site-search product. Hoxie said the team took pains to make sure both enterprise search and site search were using “the same core technology.” So advances on that core platform, or either side of the business, can eventually benefit all Swiftype products.
As for whether the Swiftype team sees enterprise search as a bigger market, Hoxie said, “It’s bigger. It’s not bigger in every way — there are a ton of companies where site search is applicable, that’s why the company’s been successful to date — but I think that when you look at engagement, it’s worlds different. At TechCrunch, the number of people interfacing with Swiftype for site search is probably one. With this, everyone would interact with us.”