“Search over the last few years has moved from ‘Give me what I typed’ to ‘Give me what I want,’ ” says Mr. Singhal, a 39-year-old native of India who joined Google in 2000 and is now a Google Fellow, the designation the company reserves for its elite engineers.
That's a quote from the New York Times article on Google search this past Sunday. There's a lot of great stuff in the article about what Google is doing with its search engine. Five-word summary: a LOT of crazy math. Oh, and light sabers.
What I found most compelling was the general approach Google is taking, which offers two lessons for the nonprofit sector at large:
1. You can't give people what they ask for, you have to give them what they want. Folks just don't know how to ask for the information they need much of the time, so you need to become an expert at translating for them, before they even ask.
As a corollary to that:
2. Data mining is essential to anticipating wants. You have access to a tremendous amount of data about your stakeholders and how they interact with your organization. Understanding that data is essential to your success.