Amazon Kendra aims to reinvent Enterprise Search

As part of a series of new machine learning initiatives at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon has launched a service called Kendra that uses natural language processing and other machine learning techniques. It aims to unite multiple data silos inside an enterprise and consistently provide high-quality results to common queries instead of a random list of links in response to keyword queries.

“Despite many attempts over many years, internal search remains a vexing problem for today’s enterprises, and most employees still frequently struggle to find the information they need. Organizations have vast amounts of unstructured text data, much of it incredibly useful if it can be discovered, stored in many formats and spread across different data sources (e.g. SharePoint, Intranet, Amazon S3, and on-premises file storage systems),” the company states.

“Even with common web-based search tools widely available, organizations still find internal search difficult because none of the available tools do a good job indexing across existing data silos, don’t provide natural language queries, and can’t deliver accurate results. When employees have questions, they are required to use keywords that may appear in multiple documents in different contexts, and these searches typically generate long lists of random links that employees then have to sift through to find the information they seek – if they find it at all.”

Amazon claims that Kendra reinvents enterprise search by allowing employees to search across multiple silos of data using real questions (not just keywords) and deploys AI technology behind the scenes to deliver the precise answers they seek (instead of a random list of links). Employees can run their searches using natural language (keywords still work, but most users prefer natural language searches).

As an example, an employee can ask a specific question like 'when does the IT help desk open?', and Amazon Kendra will give them a specific answer like ‘the IT help desk opens at 9:30 AM’, along with links back to the IT ticketing portal and other relevant sites.

Amazon Kendra can be deployed across applications, portals, and wikis. Via the AWS Management Console, users can point Amazon Kendra at their various document repositories and the service aggregates petabytes of data to build a centralized index. Kendra helps to ensure that search results adhere to existing document access policies by scanning permissions on documents so that search results only contain documents for which the user has permission to access. Additionally, Amazon Kendra actively retrains its machine learning model on a customer specific basis to improve accuracy using click-through data, user location, and feedback to deliver better answers over time.