Amazon Re:Invent – With the Cloud, Avoid Mistakes of the Past

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Amazon Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. Over 13,000 people took over the Palazzo for deep dive technical sessions to learn how to harness the power of Amazon Web Services (AWS). reinventThis show had a much different energy than other enterprise software conferences, such as VMworld.  Whereas most conferences feature a great deal of selling and marketing by the host, Amazon Re:Invent was truly more of a training show. Cloud architects spent a lot of time in technical bootcamps learning how AWS works and getting certified as administrators.

That is not to say that there was no selling or marketing going on; the exhibition hall featured myriad vendors that augment or assist with AWS deployments and solutions. The focus on the deep technical details, though, does point out the fact that we are still in the very early days of the cloud. Most of the focus of the keynotes was about getting compute workloads to the cloud – there was not a lot of mention of moving actual data to the cloud, even though that is certainly beginning to happen.  But, that is how the evolution goes. IT departments need to be comfortable moving workloads to the cloud as they begin to leverage the cloud. Building this foundation is also important to Amazon – the goal would be for many companies to completely outsource the IT data center.

It is important, however, to proactive plan for information management as more workloads and, importantly, data move to the cloud.  As the internet first emerged, companies dove into new technologies like email and network file shares only to create eDiscovery nightmares and make it virtually impossible to find information within digital landfills. It is key to learn from those mistakes rather than to repeat them when leveraging cloud-based technologies. In order to ensure both that end-users are happy with search experiences on data in the cloud and that Legal can do what they need to do from an eDiscovery standpoint. This means providing business workers with unified access to email, files, and SharePoint information regardless of where the data lives. It also means giving Legal teams fast search queries and collections. But, Cloud search is slow, as indexes live far from the information. This results in frustrated workers and Legal teams afraid that eDiscovery cannot be completed in time.

If a customer wanted to speed up search, it would have to essentially attach an appliance to a hot-air balloon and send it up to the Cloud provider so that the customer’s index could live on that appliance (or farm of appliances) in the Cloud providers data center, physically near the data. There are many reasons, however, that a Cloud provider would not allow a customer to do that:

  • Long install process
  • Challenging Pre-requisites
  • 3rd party installation concerns
  • Physical access
  • Specific hardware requirements
  • They only scale vertically

The solution to a faster search is a cloud-deployable search application, such as X1 Rapid Discovery. This creates a win-win for Cloud providers and customers alike. As enterprises move more and more information to the Cloud, it will be important to think about workers’ experiences with Cloud systems – and search is one of those user experiences that, if it is a bad one, can really negatively affect a project and cause user revolt. eDiscovery is also a major concern – I’ve worked with organizations that moved data to the cloud before planning how they would handle eDiscovery. That left Legal teams to clean up messes, or more realistically, just deal with the messes. By thinking about these issues before moving data to the cloud, it is possible to avoid these painful occurrences and leverage the cloud without headaches. At X1, we look forward to working closely with Amazon to help customers have the search and eDiscovery solutions they need as more and more data goes to AWS.

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Filed under Cloud Data, eDiscovery & Compliance, Enterprise eDiscovery, Enterprise Search, Hybrid Search, Information Access, Information Governance, Information Management

The Time Has Come to Approach Search Differently

Anyone in the search / eDiscovery business lives and breathes search – we think about all day, every day because it is our livelihood.  At X1, we have many customers making real progress with enterprise search, so there can be the perception that organizations have learned to address the very real challenge of helping employees find information.  Thus, it can be surprising to run into research that shows just how bad the traditional approach to enterprise search is.

I came across the “Enterprise Search and Findability Survey 2014” on the Findwise website.  It is very interesting reading and really confirms that a new approach to enterprise search is needed.  Some of the key points, from my perspective, are;

  • Almost half of the survey respondents in large organizations (1,000 employees or more) find it difficult or very difficult to find information.
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their existing search applications.
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents believe it is very important to improve the ability to find the right information.

Simply put, traditional enterprise search did not work.  Too many employees complain about not being able to find what they are looking for.  The search solutions deployed over the last 15 years focused on IT requirements rather than end-user requirements.  These tools required end-users to tag and rate their search results, something end-users have neither the time nor the emotional investment to do.  This very point is something that Marcus Stimler, CTO of Capgemini UI, points out on the webinar we did earlier this month – the reliance of traditional search tools on end-users to tag information leads to a lack of findability.  This survey just confirms that fact.

It is not all doom and gloom, however, as many X1 customers know.  There is a better way to approach enterprise search and it begins with the end-user.  In today’s business world, end-users know what they want.  They demand good experiences with technology.   A web page with links to search results will not cut it in the enterprise.  Users need a single-pane-of-glass view to all of their information – email, files, SharePoint, archives like Symantec Enterprise Vault, and other enterprise repositories that users might access.   X1 Search 8 provides just that – a user-friendly interface to all information that lets workers use their brains to find what they are looking for.

Beyond the desktop, X1 Rapid Discovery indexes other sources of content – either on-premise or in the Cloud – and makes the information available alongside a user’s local content.  Perhaps the beauty of this approach lies mostly with its simplicity.  Workers are happy because they can find information.  IT is surprisingly happy because they have a search tool that is easily deployable, as opposed to the traditional complex science project.  This overall happiness is a result of a new approach to enterprise search starting with end-user requirements and extending outward.  It is a subtle difference, but a meaningful one that will drive the results of future findability surveys to a new level.

For more on our perspectives on why enterprise search initiatives often fail, while X1 is invariably successful, please download this short treatise. This was inspired by direct feedback from many successful X1 install sites.  In a nutshell, X1 addresses users’ personalized requirements for business productivity search.

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Click image to enlarge

A key mistake is to take big data or web search solutions and apply them to the very different use case of business productivity search. The matrix displayed here illustrates the key differences between these use cases.

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Filed under Business Productivity Search, Enterprise Search

X1’s Enterprise Search Webinar Takeaways

by Barry Murphy

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in a webinar on enterprise search and how to do it in a way that actually works.  Early feedback indicates that the webinar was well-received, mostly thanks to the involvement of Marcus Stimler, Capgemini’s UK CTO.  Marcus generously gave us his time to share lessons learned about how to make business productivity search work by putting the end-users first.  It was an important point – getting the win by making users happy and then extending the project from there.  The real world perspective that someone like Marcus can provide is invaluable and I learned a lot from listening to him.

There are a few key takeaways that are worthy of sharing and repeating:

  1. Search is a journey. Thinking of search as a “project” can be a mistake; rather, search is a journey that keeps going and, if done right, keeps providing value.  For Capgemini, it really began with a realization that people couldn’t find what they were looking for– despite having search tools in place.  Individual workers actually found X1 Search 8 and became loyal advocates.  Marcus, as CTO, learned about these passionate users and was able to roll out the X1 product more broadly so that Capgemini’s high-value knowledge workers could be more productive.  Once end-users were able to find what they were looking – most of which was in their email or desktop files – Capgemini was able to extend the journey by adding content sources like SharePoint to the search solution.
  2. The “Google paradigm” simply does not work in the enterprise. This might have been one of the most important points that Marcus made because, thanks to Google, there is a perception that search is easy.  Marcus learned that search within an enterprise is very different than web search, which relies on popularity for prioritizing search results.  Relying on popularity inside the enterprise will lead to problems because only a few employees will actually tag and/or rate documents.  Individual workers treat organizational knowledge differently and need a search tool that allows them to work their way.  As Marcus said, “relevancy is more important than popularity.”  And, it’s the business workers that know what is relevant and what isn’t.
  3. The human workflow is a huge consideration. As Marcus points out, and the major theme of the webinar, it is important to start with the end-users and win them over first.  For Capgemini, that meant using a tool that allowed people to quickly find what they are looking for and then take action on it.  That is exactly what X1 does.  For Capgemini, X1 gives their employees the ability to do their job better and faster – and that leads to all sorts of positive outcomes.  Because Capgemini values the knowledge of their workers, the company is able to leverage that knowledge for increased revenues and that leads to Marcus getting a positive ROI on the X1 investment – an important consideration for any IT person.

A huge thank you goes out to Marcus Stimler for sharing his time and knowledge with us.  If you have not had a chance to see the webinar, you can check out the recording here: http://www.x1.com/products/x1_rapid_discovery/videos/search_that_works_request.html

Feel free to be in touch with any questions.

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Filed under Enterprise Search

Top Five Reasons to Attend X1’s Enterprise Search Webinar

This Wednesday, October 8 at 1pm ET / 10am PT, X1 will host a very interesting webinar focused on “Enterprise Search That Actually Works.”  In this session, Webinar imagewe will look at how organizations can finally get to a point where employees are actually able to find what they are looking for in the mountains of digital information that exists.  At the heart of this webinar is the idea that end-users are the key to successful search projects.

It is, after all, end-users that are searching for information all day, every day.  Successful search initiatives must capture and please those end-users.  But, IT projects tend to be pushed out from a central IT organization rather than “pulled” in by the end users.  The result, in terms of enterprise search, was failed projects where a lot of money was spent, but users were still not able to find what they were looking for.

The good news is that there is a better way to approach enterprise search by focusing on the end-user and making “business productivity search” a priority.  In this upcoming webinar, we will show you exactly how to deploy enterprise search in a way that works – making both IT and end-users happy.  There are five main reasons you will not want to miss this webinar:

  1. A realistic case study from Capgemini. Marcus Stimler, Capgemini’s UK CTO, will join us and describe the challenges he addressed with X1 and how focusing on the needs of users drives the broader enterprise search strategy.  Marcus will bring a pragmatic viewpoint from the trenches and is able to answer questions from those of you in a similar position wondering how to make enterprise search work.
  2. A demo-based approach to getting the point across. Sure, we will go through a couple of PowerPoint slides, but most of the webinar will feature an example of how to actually get buy-in from the end-users and provide them with a search tool that delivers productivity.  And, we will show you how to extend outward from the end-user to address more and more enterprise repositories as needed.
  3. A chance to learn from and avoid the mistakes of the past.  Those who don’t learn from the past are destined to repeat it – that’s why we will look at how traditional approaches to enterprise search did not work.  More importantly, we will show you how to change those approaches to capture the end-users and make search work in a way that works for your organization’s IT environment.
  4. A new way to look at enterprise search. Too often, search is just another IT project and organizations miss the fact that search functionality can and should evolve.  This webinar will focus on search as a journey that goes beyond the initial “project.”  In fact, the Capgemini case study will be a perfect example of a search initiative that evolves – and does so from the core premise that end-users must be happy and able to easily find what they are looking for.
  5. A special thank you gift that will outline how to succeed with enterprise search. All attendees will be given an as-yet-unpublished paper on how to make enterprise search work.  This paper will outline the mistakes to avoid and provide the strategic elements for effective business productivity search.

We hope you can join us for this webinar.  It should be a fun hour and we like to keep it interactive by taking your questions throughout the webinar.  Please register now if you haven’t already.

 

 

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Filed under Enterprise Search