Tag Archives: Enterprise Search

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

Why the “Google Paradigm” Has Damaged Enterprise Search

by Barry Murphy

In last week’s post about what we are looking for with enterprise search, I mentioned what we call the Google paradigm.  A reader asked me to be more specific about what the Google paradigm actually is and it’s a worthy request.  The Google paradigm is actually a summation of the resulting perceptions based on the popularity of Google; those perceptions are that enterprise search is as easy as Google web search, and that a central index of an enterprise is the right way to do enterprise search.  The result of these perceptions is an approach to enterprise search that has not solved the problem of allowing business workers to easily and quickly find the information they are looking for.

It is important to note that web search is not the same as enterprise search, and therein lies the major problem with the perceptions caused by the Google paradigm.  Google is an excellent tool for informational web search – I use it frequently when researching various topics that I need to learn more about.  The point is that Google is for Web search, which uses organic linking (looking at the number of sites that link to a particular page) to determine the rank order of results.  That approach provides zero value in the enterprise because the users typically have more than an inkling of what they are looking for, and perhaps have specific criteria they know are relevant, and thus require an interface that allows them to quickly filter the result down to a manageable number.

But, in reality, enterprise search is often synonymous with Google – the web search paradigm.  There is a tendency to think of search as easy.  After all, Google completes search queries for users; it is easy to assume that technology will eventually just know what users are looking for and offer it up to them.  This message is reinforced in the age of Big Data and business intelligence.  There is a fascination with the stunning dashboards we see in CRM and SFA applications.  There is a belief that analytics will replace any need to search and find information.

While analytics will certainly help many business processes, its biggest impacts will be in feeding structured data into business processes and informing those responsible for the process of performance.    There is much value to be had in that and the Big Data market prospers as a result.  Despite the availability of advanced business intelligence tools, though, business workers still struggle to find the one email or document necessary to complete the next urgent task.  People waste hours looking for it, only to most likely recreate all that work when they can’t find what they need.  Organizations lose millions of dollars per year to this lost productivity and typically don’t even know it.  Companies implement traditional enterprise search to help employees, but only make searching more frustrating because those solutions do not leverage the power of the business worker’s brain.

Web search – the Google paradigm – has allowed us to take search for granted.  When doing a web search, however, users are typically searching for something authored by someone else and the system is using programmatic analysis to conduct the query.  For a business worker, though, search is very different.  The worker has a sense of what they are looking for because it is very specific to them – the method of analysis is personal, not programmatic.  Web search is inquisitive in nature.  But, the web search approach – which has been pushed on users by IT for years – does not work well for business workers looking for the information needed to do their jobs.

The Google paradigm also ignores the challenge of scalability.  Indexing the enterprise for a centralized enterprise search capability requires major investment.  In addition, centralization runs counter to the realities of the working world where information must be distributed globally across a variety of devices and applications.  The amount of information we create is overwhelming and the velocity with which that information moves increases daily.

 

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Google Data Center (Click to enlarge)

 

The image above is of a Google Data Center (one of more than several dozen that power the internet).  Look at the sheer magnitude of just what it takes to power those Web searches we are all so used to.  This illustrates exactly why it is so hard to “Google the enterprise.” And yet many people, and even CIOs, think doing so should be easy.  Such has been the approach to scaling traditional enterprise search solutions in the enterprise.  And while Google obviously has solid software to drive its web search, hardware and sheer computing power on a massive scale are essential components of Google’s success.

The only “successful” enterprise search deployments – as judged by customer references – tend to exist only in a very specific type of organization: highly regulated, with deep pockets.  These organizations can make enterprise search work because, due to regulatory and Legal drivers, they have unlimited budget for hardware to make the solution scale.  They are also able to invest in double digit FTE’s to implement and maintain the system over time.  But, these organizations represent “the 1%.”  Most organizations do not have the budget or human resources needed to make traditional enterprise search work.

There will always be hardware investments required to make productivity search work, but such investments do not need to be heavy in the way that traditional solutions have been.  Rather, organizations should look at more flexible options that mirror the realistic IT environment they live in.  That environment typically includes a hybrid of on-premise, virtual, and cloud-based infrastructure and content spread across multiple repositories.  Rarely – if ever – is content centralized.  As such, a good productivity search solution will allow access to the content that business workers need the most while leaving as little footprint with IT as possible.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Information Access, Information Governance, Information Management

With Search, What Are We Looking For?

by Barry Murphy
Needle haystack

Recently, I was contacted by an X1 user and fan and he asked me, “why isn’t X1 more famous?”  His point was that X1 Search 8 solves a problem that every company has – people can’t find their information.  They are unable to find that one email or document that they know exists, but that they just can’t remember where they put it.  This X1 fan happens to be a consultant that works with many, many companies and reported that, no matter what client he visits, all have workers that constantly complain about not being able to find what they are looking for.

It can be a marketer’s nightmare to have someone ask why your product is not more famous, but it was a question I had already been giving some thought to.  Part of the challenge when it comes to the “search market” is that most people think of Google when they think of search.  Google is easy to use and helps everyone navigate the Internet much more efficiently.  But, web search is a much different beast than search within a company.  The reality is that 80% of what business workers are looking for exists in their email, file shares, desktop folders, or SharePoint sites.  The worker knows the content exists, has an idea of what he/she is looking for, but simply doesn’t know where it is.  But, when enterprise search solutions were first rolled out, they were built like web search solutions – as if someone wasn’t really sure what they were looking for.

The misperception that the Google search paradigm can apply within the enterprise resulted in enterprise search solutions improperly conflating several search use cases.  But, web search and big data analytics – the new search du jour – are very distinct search types that require features and functions specific to their own unique workflows and use cases. Refashioning big data analytics or web search tools for enterprise search is a recipe for failure and certainly not an end-user driven requirement.

Big Data and the business intelligence (BI) tools built to address Big Data are hot topics.  And BI can deliver some very good information to workers that are managing structured processes.  Every company has deployed some kind of BI tool, but – as our consultant fan let us know – every company still has the problem of business workers not being able to find information.  That is because, when it comes to business worker search, the human brain is the most powerful analytical engine for business productivity search.  Other search solutions have sophisticated algorithms that try to predict things like document taxonomy classifications.   That can be useful at times, but not to enable search for the business worker because the interface and workflow are not designed for business productivity search.  Additionally, analytics-driven solutions require a lot of hardware to make those algorithms churn.

There is a more cost-effective way to solve the problem and ensure that business workers will stop complaining – deploy a search solution with a user-friendly interface that allows humans to use their brain to filter and sort through their information assets.  X1 Search 8 can do that – and do it in today’s virtualized and Cloud-heavy environments.  It is time to realize what business workers are really looking for when they turn to search tools – the one document they know exists that has the information necessary for them to do their jobs in any given moment.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Hybrid Search