Tag Archives: business professionals

The “Desktop” Of The Future

In talking with a business acquaintance recently, a question came up about the future of desktop search:  what happens when the desktop is no longer the interface of choice for business professionals?  It’s a great question, and one I clearly have a vested interest in given X1’s status as the leading desktop search engine.  The reality is that today’s workers access their information from a variety of interfaces across many devices.  What we need to do is think of the desktop less in a literal sense and more in terms of being a user interface for information.

Since the dawn of the PC, the desktop has been the user interface for most business professionals to access information and do their jobs.  The future of that desktop no longer lies in accessing it on a PC, or even a laptop or mobile device.  Given the speed of innovation, it is useless to try and forecast what the “desktop” will look like beyond a five-year timeframe.  Already, there are stories emerging about the desktop being built into things like tabletop coffee tables.  It is absolutely fun and inspiring to see developments like this and to know we are making forward progress in the tech world.  At the same time, we need to make sure that information – which will be stored in a variety of locations, too – is accessible to the business professional no matter what the desktop looks like in the future.

That is why X1’s Search 8 Virtual Edition is so exciting.  The flagship product, Search 8, represents years of experience providing a beloved user interface to a business profession’s most critical information – email, files, SharePoint, etc.  When the product first came out nearly a decade ago, most of that information was stored locally.  Thus, a local index could live on the desktop and X1 could provide fast-as-you-type search results and filtering on that local index.  Given the evolution of the desktop and the variety of devices accessing that desktop, a local index is not always a possibility.  That’s where Search 8 Virtual Edition comes in.  The client interface is decoupled from the index, which can live anywhere (typically off on a server farm).

VDI image

This allows IT teams that have invested in desktop virtualization (VDI) to turn off Windows indexing (necessary to save virtual resources) and still provide business professionals the ability to find their information.  Desktop virtualization enables many of the things that businesses value highly – especially security and mobility – and comes in its own variety of flavors.  VDI can be either on-premise and through the Cloud, as Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS).  Increasingly, DaaS offerings such as Amazon Workspaces are becoming more enterprise ready and promise to deliver desktops in a “whenever, wherever” fashion (and, as I’ve posted about before, a good search experience will be crucial to getting the most out of DaaS).

That Search 8 Virtual Edition helps enable an optimal experience with desktop virtualization and DaaS is a great thing, but the value does not stop there.  The same concept – allowing the index to be decoupled from the client interface – will enable great search experiences for mobile, which is the next big stomping ground for enterprise IT.  And, X1 is the only search vendor providing this capability.  We know that the concept of the desktop could live anywhere.  And, our customers want to be able to use X1 Search 8 even if they are unable to have a local index on their machine or device.

The term “desktop search” is already out there and meaningful to many people, so it’s not about changing what we call this market.  Rather, it’s about changing the mindset – realizing that the desktop is not just the screen on your PC, but rather the gateway to all of your important information needed to do your job.

 

 

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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.

 

Google_data_center

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

Dr. Michael Levitt: World Famous Scientist, Nobel Laureate, and X1 Power User

Michael Levitt Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013

Michael Levitt
Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013

Recently I had the distinct honor of speaking with Dr. Michael Levitt, a 2013 Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry, and highly regarded Professor of Structural Biology at Stanford University. The Nobel Committee awarded Dr. Levitt a Nobel in recognition of his research in computational biology, “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.” He is also a “huge fan” of X1. When Dr. Levitt and I spoke, he discussed his daily use of X1 Search and how it is essential to his research and professional productivity. “X1 saves me many hours per week,” per his unsolicited email to us at X1 that initiated our dialogue, “I cannot survive without it.”

A computer-savvy scientist, Dr. Levitt relies on a Macintosh laptop with VMWare virtualization running a Windows OS, where he stores 200 gigabytes of data, including 40 gigabytes of over 300,000 emails, and of course relies on X1 to make sense of it all. “Next to my computer itself, X1 is the one tool I can’t do without,” explained Dr. Levitt.  “People use the term ‘big data’ a lot these days, but the most important ‘big data’ for me is the 200 gigabytes on my laptop that consists of decades of research, important communications with fellow academics, and other key resources.  X1 enables me to find what I am looking for instantaneously. It is a very effective interface to all of my information.”

Dr. Levitt credits X1’s lightning-fast, iterative and faceted search capability, along with X1’s reliability and stability, as enabling him to quickly and tactically sift through 200 gigabytes of emails and academic research. “X1 is an intimate part of my workflow — it is essentially an extension of my mind when I engage in information retrieval, which is many times an hour during my workday.”

In addition to locating his research and other critical data, X1 proved very handy to Dr. Levitt in managing an important email response project. “When I was awarded the Nobel, I received over two thousand congratulatory emails. I used X1 to cross reference my sent folder to make sure I replied to them all. That X1 shortcut saved me several hours alone!”

Dr. Levitt’s testimonial echoes similar sentiments expressed by many high-powered business professionals at top financial institutions, major law firms, consulting companies and science and engineering firms. They all rely on X1 to dramatically enhance their productivity by quickly locating their information amongst an ever-increasing avalanche of emails and other data.

We here at X1 extend our congratulations to Dr. Levitt for his 2013 Nobel prize in Chemistry, as well as our sincere thanks to him for reaching out to us and sharing his enthusiastic feedback on X1 search, which, incidentally, is completely gratis. “Just keep developing great software” is all he asked for in return.

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For more information about X1 Search 8, including a free 14 day trial, please visit here >

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