Social Discovery’s Time Is Now

by Barry Murphy

social discoveryThe 80/20 rule tends to apply in all aspects of life, and it is certainly applying to social discovery, at least in terms of who “gets it” and who doesn’t.  I say that because, when I talk to folks about social discovery, about 80% of them feel that it is a fringe issue that will be something to deal with in the distant future.  Only 20% realize that social discovery is happening now and that getting ahead of the curve presents a huge opportunity.

On the surface, it would seem problematic that so few embrace the realities that social media is here to stay in the business world.  According to Forrester Research’s The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2013, US, “consumers of all age groups use social networking. From the 85% of Gen Zers to the 57% of the Golden Generation who visit Facebook at least monthly, social networking is ingrained in the Internet experience for all generations. Consumers use social media to interact with companies, too. The average US online Facebook user “likes” 14 brands on Facebook, while almost seven out of 10 social networkers engage with brands on social media.”  That social media content is discoverable is not up for debate; the argument tends to be around whether actual social discovery is mainstream yet.

The proactive management (e.g. archiving) of social media is not yet a mainstream practice in US enterprises.  In talking to a colleague at an archiving vendor, the primary reason for this is cost.  Yes, there is a lack of maturity in policies (both usage and retention) and a fear that simply journaling social media into an archive will just bloat digital landfills, but the primary issue is cost.  This is because most of the solutions for capturing social media into an archive are hosted and have recurring subscription and storage fees.  As a result, the starting cost – just to add social media to an archive – is over $25,000.  For most enterprises, that additional cost is a non-starter.

Just because proactive management of social media is not mainstream does not mean that social discovery as a practice is not.  I can look at the sales numbers for X1’s Social Discovery (X1SD) product and tell you that the growth rate is such that it is clear the practice is widespread.  I have also heard from service providers that are doing over 30 Facebook collections per week.  To me, that indicates that social discovery is a mainstream practice.  With X1SD, the cost issue is averted because the starting cost is less than $1,500.  Plus, the filtering capabilities allow investigators to only pass potentially relevant content downstream in the eDiscovery lifecycle.  And, being a desktop install means that no custody or control issues will pop up (especially important in the law enforcement use-case).

Most of the coverage of social media tools focus on the marketing use-cases – for example enterprise listening platforms and social relationship platforms.  Those use-cases serve important business functions, but discovery platforms need to meet a higher standard.  They need to show defensibility and have great control over custody of the data.  With such capabilities in place and in use today, it is only a matter of time before enterprises connect the dots and begin addressing social discovery with as much discipline as they do collection of email and other enterprise content.

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Filed under Social Media Investigations

Get Ready for Hybrid Search

by Barry Murphy

In the tech world, everyone is on the lookout for the next big thing.  Everyone wants to be at the edge of innovation.  In my role here at X1, I talk to our partner ecosystem about myriad issues and topics, constantly taking the temperature of the market.  A lot of topics have good traction right now:

  • There is huge interest in the Social Discovery product and that business continues to grow.  In fact, I would argue that social media discovery is the most exciting topic in the eDiscovery world and generating far more business and activity than any other segment of the market.
  • Customers deploying virtual desktop (VDI) environments are excited by the Search 8 Virtual Edition, which allows them to provide great search experiences for business workers while also disabling Windows indexing (a best practice in desktop virtualization in order to conserve virtual resources).
  • With the growth of the Cloud and more and more enterprises storing active data in Cloud-based repositories, the ability to search data in the cloud is a hot topic.  But, as I wrote about previously, cloud search is not necessarily as simple as just creating a connector.  We continue to see X1’s ability to deploy in the cloud as a driving force behind deals.

No topic, however, turns as many heads as hybrid search.  When I talk to people about our product set, heads nod and they see the value.  After a few minutes, the “aha moment” occurs.  I don’t even have to say the term – my conversation partner will say to me, “wait, so you can enable search across both on-premise and cloud environments…you can do hybrid search.”  It feels to me like hybrid search is one of those “next big things.”  To have so many diverse people, from different business sectors really dig in to a conversation on hybrid search gives me all the proof I need to know that we are on to something here.

Take a look at the following screenshot.  The beauty lies in the simplicity – one single pane of glass to a business worker’s most critical information assets.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

No need to switch around between applications.  No need to search Outlook for email, then log into Box to search for files stored there.  It is a single interface to search for information, no matter where it lives.  And that kind of interface fits the workflow of business workers.  That drives tremendous value – that is why everyone gets the importance of hybrid search, and why it is the next big thing as far as I am concerned.

 

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Filed under Cloud Data, Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Hybrid Search, Social Media Investigations

SharePoint Search: Beyond eDiscovery

by Barry Murphy

I had the pleasure of conducting a SharePoint eDiscovery webinar with Patrick Burke of Reed Smith for the OLP last week.  The subject is fascinating because finding, preserving, and reviewing SharePoint content in the litigation/investigation context can be so challenging.  The metadata users add to content (e.g. workflow tasks), the web page interface that creates more native ESI than just a document, and the decentralization of SharePoint deployments make eDiscovery for SharePoint a topic unto itself.  Often lost in this topic is the issue of end-user search of SharePoint.

When I talk about end-user search in SharePoint, most people just assume that the search functionality baked in to the product (Microsoft acquired FAST Search & Transfer several years back) is enough.  In some cases, that will be correct, but in others it does not work to give business users efficient access to information.  Some companies have standardized on SharePoint as an enterprise content management (ECM) platform while others have some departments that use SharePoint for sharing files and managing specific business processes.  In either situation, the reality is that business workers store information in multiple places – SharePoint, email, network file shares, etc.  To find that information is often a frustrating task of switching from application to application only to have a subpar search experience.

Consider the screenshot below of a search experience in SharePoint:

SharePoint blog 1

Click to enlarge

The experience leaves something to be desired in that I have to execute several more clicks on the left to do any kind of filtering and, in the result set itself, it is very difficult to know if any of these are the document I am looking for because I can’t see the document itself.  I would need to open it first.  In addition, as a business worker, I probably don’t know if I should be looking in email, file shares, or SharePoint for the document I need.  I know I saw it somewhere, but can’t remember where.  In this search experience, if I don’t find what I am looking for in SharePoint, I now have to go search my email and then my file system.  It adds up to a waste of time.

Now, consider a unified, single-pane-of-glass approach:

SharePoint blog 2

Click to enlarge

In this user interface, I can search across email, files, and SharePoint.  I can see a full-fidelity preview of the attachment.  I can refine on any kind of metadata.  It is a positive search experience that is helpful and allows me to be efficient.  More and more people realize now that this unified access to information is critically important. That may be why SharePoint guru Joel Oleson said, after a X1 Search 8 product demo, “the great news is seeing unified search across the variety of platforms [email, file shares, SharePoint] in a single powerful desktop product priced very reasonably.”  It’s because business workers really do need that unified interface across all information.  To be forced to move from email to SharePoint just to run a search can be frustrating and time consuming.  For SharePoint administrators, not having to worry about a user’s search experience in SharePoint is liberating.  When business workers and IT administrators are both happy, the world is a better place.

Read Joel Oleson’s complete review of X1 Search 8 here >

 

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Filed under Cloud Data, Enterprise eDiscovery, Enterprise Search, SharePoint, Uncategorized

Citrix Synergy Conference: It’s About User Experience

by Barry Murphy

Citrix-Synergy-2014-300x165I had the pleasure of attending the Citrix Synergy event in Anaheim, CA.
Thanks to our partner Citrix for putting on a world-class event with excellent sessions, interesting labs, a comfortable exhibition area, and some great parties.  Of note was the party put on by the M7 Global Partners that featured an in-demand cigar bar and a rocking performance by Thundherstruck, the female AC/DC tribute band.  The Synergy conference was truly a great experience.

Experience was the theme of the week; user experience, that is.  As Citrix CEO Mark B. Templeton said in his opening keynote, “it’s all about being happy.”  In order for business workers to be happy, the IT systems they leverage must not be a source of frustration.

Citrix understands that, in order for IT projects to achieve success, business workers need an experience that will allow them to not only adopt, but embrace the solutions IT teams roll out.  A good user experience is necessary for both business workers and IT.  More than ever, IT teams need to control costs while also accounting for security.  The challenge for IT is doing this in the context of the consumerization of IT.  Business workers have very high expectations of being able to access and interact with information on the devices they want, where they want.  In an increasingly mobile world, virtualization is one way to securely deliver applications and information to business workers.

To that end, Citrix showed how it aims to deliver usable solutions such as XenApp, XenDesktop, and DaaS.  Business workers will be able to access desktops and applications when and where they need them.  And, with ShareFile, IT will have a solution that allows for on-premise, Cloud, and hybrid storage environments – that is a powerful way to save money while maintaining tight security requirements.

What Citrix customers and prospects will want to remember is that one key to making virtualization and hybrid Cloud solutions work is a good productivity search (the ability for workers to easily find the information they need to do their jobs) experience for business workers.  Desktop virtualization requires turning off operating system indexing in order to conserve virtual resources – that makes productivity search impossible without a solution like X1 Search 8 Virtual Edition that decouples indexing services from the client search interface that lives on the desktop.

It is the cloud search and hybrid environment search, too, that are key to making projects successful in today’s IT departments.  Organizations store information on-premise and in the cloud and need to be able to search across all of that information.  A majority of the cloud search solutions on the market today require downloading the content from the cloud in order to index and search it, which defeats the purpose of putting the content in the cloud in the first place.  It is not just cloud search – it is the ability to search across data both on-premise and in the cloud, as X1 Rapid Discovery can do, that is required in today’s fast-paced, information-fueled business world.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Virtualized Environment