Convergence & The Future of Search
Digital innovation opens up endless possibilities, and brings forth fresh concepts that provide solutions to both old and new problems. The ubiquity of mobile and wireless technologies have enabled access to the internet from a myriad consumer devices. Gone are the days where one had to be shackled to a desk to perform a Google search – let alone the creation of a Word document.
What is Convergence?
The concentration of technologies into a single multifunction device, gathering data from many sources, comprising various networked components including the logging of human behaviours and habits.
Examples of converged technologies are smartphones, tablets and set-top boxes that bring together the internet, television and home automation. As we begin to see this in our homes through feature-rich set-top boxes, in our cars through in-dash technologies and in our pockets through faster smartphones, one thing is for sure; we are on path to an always-online society.
Innovation in mobile device and software development has opened up possibilities that simply did not exist in the past. Search is now more contextual than ever, and it is with context and personalisation in mind that search engines and the algorithms that power them are rapidly becoming a one-stop portal for all your online needs.
When thinking of online search what comes to mind? Information, products or services? All of the above? Whatever a user or AI’s search of choice, the process is one of an input key phrase or word followed by a computer/algorithm output in the form of relevant information on a search results page.
Simple, Easy & Efficient?
Not so much. Search, as advanced as it is, has limitations. Sometimes a simple search isn’t that easy, an example being when a search engine/algorithm has trouble interpreting a user’s text query and returns incorrect results wasting time and money in data transfer costs.
Convergence allows for search augmentation through networked sensors and internet connected devices resulting in an accurate contextual search that adds value and usually facilitates a consumer’s path to purchase.
The Marriage of Search & Convergence
The love child of convergence and search is augmented mobile search. Currently not much different from desktop search within a South African context, whereas our 1st world counterparts have the necessary infrastructure to facilitate advanced search queries and results. Mobile search brings with it the contextual nature of convergence through the smart device, which according to its feature set can track a user’s location and heartbeat among other privacy hair-raising grey area data sources.
Ideally, the more contextually relevant information a search engine has as an input the greater the relevancy of the results it can display, predict or suggest. This is where mobile search reaches it’s potential, having the ability to draw on contextually relevant data sources be it sensors or a home automation system to display content that is relevant and personalised.
The growth of mobile is a worldwide trend with South Africa placing 3rd in the global rankings for mobile data traffic. As search grows into its full capability, the way we navigate our digital lives lies in a converged future.