SmartHub and Our “Best of Breed” Approach

We recently announced a new product called SmartHub (you can read the announcement here).  This is a big milestone for BA Insight, a key step in our strategy of delivering a new generation of smarter search solutions.

SmartHub includes a modern, cloud-based search UI with many cool features. It is built using JavaScript, is mobile-aware, and is attractive and fast.  We’ve built SmartHub from the ground up as an intelligent standalone search center.  In the process, capabilities like Visual Refiners and Intelligent Typeahead, which have been highly successful in our previous products, have been included and improved upon with SmartHub.

But that’s not the most exciting part. Inside SmartHub is a search mashup service that modifies queries and results on the fly, allowing us to deliver sophisticated capabilities and tackle difficult search challenges easily. That’s my own technojargon; what is important is the resulting capabilities.  SmartHub:

  • Provides personalized results, such as using elements from a user’s profile as the context and modifying the query so that results fit your location, role, and preferences. Faceting and personalization are essential tools in providing relevant results, and we’ve included both of them.
  • Supports multiple search platforms, each with its own query syntax and relevancy characteristics, and results can be mixed across them into a single set of results and refiners.  (Our first release supports Elastic Cloud, Elasticsearch, Office 365, SharePoint 2013, and SharePoint 2016 Search, with more to come).
  • Calls out to our SmartHub Analytics product to get recommendations and suggestions and sends information to it so that it can do Machine Learning to improve these.
  • Can call different services based on the queries and results of a search and uses them in lots of interesting combinations.  We’re focused on using Google Cloud Machine Learning and Microsoft Cognitive Services from SmartHub, as well as from our AutoClassifier.

BA Insight has a best-of-breed strategy, and we are doubling down on it with SmartHub.  Just look at the list of capabilities above.  The second point extends our best-of-breed approach to search engines. The last two points are a big part of our best-of-breed cognitive search strategy.  (I’ll dive deeper into each of these in additional blog posts).

Building this as a modern application with standard frameworks has some nice benefits. Our UI can fit smoothly into a variety of web sites, notably Office 365 sites, it is easy to brand and configure, and it can also run independently.  Plus, if you ever want to customize or extend our UI, you’re working with familiar tools.


Here are some Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Where does SmartHub run?

SmartHub runs in the cloud. It is built on Azure’s App Service and can grow to global scale with high availability and full security and compliance.

Q: Which search engines can I use with SmartHub? Do they have to be in the cloud?

Today we support Elastic Cloud, Elasticsearch, Office 365, SharePoint 2013, and SharePoint 2016 Search, with more to come. The search cluster/farm can be on-prem, cloud-based, or hybrid.

Q: Can I brand and customize the SmartHub UI?

Yes. SmartHub is designed to be brandable and configurable.

Q: How can I personalize search results using SmartHub?

Any and all parameters in a users’ profile can be easily used to provide personalized results. Additionally, you can dip into other systems if desired, for example, to provide a “people related to my projects” view and rank information related to your current projects higher than other information.