Reaching Findability #3

Findability is surprisingly complex due to the large number of measures needed to be understood and undertaken. I believe that one of the principal challenges lies within the pedagogical domain. This is my third post in a series of simple tips for reaching Findability.

Link your information assets!

Often, the information needed to efficiently perform a certain task is spread out in different locations. Just imagine the amount of applications, web pages and windows you need to open on an average workday! These systems all have their own interfaces and sets of content and rules, which often leads to cognitive stress on the individuals using them. A lower overall efficiency than one might expect follows.

A search platform is one way of simplifying everyday work for these individuals, by making information in several systems available from one single location. And in one interface, that acts the same regardless of what information I am looking for.  This can be achieved by linking several data sources using a search platform, effectively creating an Enterprise Search solution. The benefit for certain processes and individuals can be dramatic.

The foundation for an Enterprise Search solution is a well-planned architecture and control of the most important and strategic information assets. One of the success factors is planning big but starting out small. While the long-term goal might be a common search platform, the first project could very well aim for connecting only one or a few data sources. That way, the platform is realized in small, manageable steps, all leading toward the same goal. With the right prioritizations, business value is created every step of the way. New ideas can be tested and problems mitigated before the consequences become difficult to handle.

What types of systems and data sources can be linked together in your Enterprise Search platform? All that we have come across in some hundreds of projects; intranets, web sites, ERPs, document management systems, file shares and databases. To mention a few.

Results from Enterprise Search and Findability Survey 2013

Although data is growing rapidly information is still difficult to find in most organizations. That is the most obvious conclusion from our annual global Enterprise Search and Findability Survey. 64 percent of respondents from organizations with more than 1000 employees say it is difficult to find the right information internally. Surprising since 79 percent think it is of high importance. But there are some good news too, 36 percent of respondents have a search strategy in place and 38 percent plan to implement one.

A recent report by European Union’s Joint Research Centre called “Enterprise Search in the European Union: A Techno-economic Analysis” found two main reasons for adopting a strategy for Enterprise Search; the growth in data generation and a more worrying one – the fact that this huge amount of information is largely unstructured. An estimated 80% of the information stored is either unstructured or has no adequate metadata for the needs of employees.

The survey findings show the need for enterprises to adopt enterprise search solutions to overcome the burden of information overload which faces the knowledge workers of today’s organizations. Not finding information, or even worse, finding the wrong information is still the reality for most organizations. Companies may be sitting on a considerable stock of digital assets but still being unable to capture and value from them.

Get budget for search

McKinsey & Company wrote an article recently, “Measuring the full impact of digital capital” saying that the need for growth and competitiveness will force companies to build strong digital capabilities. For those concerned about how to get funding for search I want to point out that the benefits from this investment are clear with improved quality in business decisions, increased efficiency and a more harmonized global offering as direct results. Much happier employees is a positive side effect.

Read more about the survey and download the report for free here!

Reaching Findability

Findability is not rocket science, but remain complex due to the large number of measures needed to be understood and undertaken. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and believe one of the principal challenges lies within the pedagogical domain. Therefore I’ve compiled a number of simple tips for reaching Findability which I will share in a series of blog posts. You can also sign up here for a subscription to a free email course on this topic!

Take control of your information!

A strong incentive to improve Findability is to make information available to people who don’t have prior knowledge of where it resides or what it looks like. That doesn’t make management of the actual information less important. It’s just the other way round!

To gain control of your information, you must understand what and where it is. What do we know about it, what is the quality of it and how can a search engine expose it to the users? Often existing metadata, the surrounding structure and the actual content can tell us much that can be used to make it findable. Remember that important information can reside in many places. Look in the intranet, mailboxes, file servers as well as databases and proprietary systems to mention but a few.

When your most important information has been identified you need to build an information model that outlines the important concepts and terms, and how they fit together. This enables a structured way of working with the information, as well as technical solutions that simplifies finding, discovering and navigating it.

Bear in mind that it can be difficult to cover all the information at once. To avoid being overwhelmed start with some of the most important information, the stuff which really makes a difference in streamlining a process. Preferably, use a method for identifying and prioritizing business effects as a starting point to ensure your efforts are wisely spent.

Feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss this further, anders.nilsson@findwise.com or sign up here to get our free email course.

Sign up now for seminars and courses this fall

Starting in September 2013 we have a number of upcoming seminars and trainings this fall. Before we go on holiday I want to take this opportunity to urge you to check them out.

Want to learn a practical approach to Sharepoint solution design?

September 9th we at Findwise open our doors to a master class suitable for anyone who is struggling with matters of findability and content strategy regardless of platform – social, mobile or traditional web sites, internally or externally. For this occasion we have invited Seth Earley, a highly inspirational tutor and expert in the findability area who will share unique experiences and knowledge of how to use Sharepoint (SP 2013, SP 2010 and FAST for Sharepoint) information architecture to create business value.

Read more and register here!

By the way, if you are curious about search in Sharepoint 2013 you should check out these four previous blog posts which provide a good overview of the news in SP13 and a detailed description of a major new feature, query rules :

Query rules in Sharepoint 2013

Search in Sharepoint 2013

Cloud, mobile and social for Sharepoint 2013

Presentation on Enterprise search in Sharepoint 2013

Introduction to Enterprise Search

Are you new to enterprise search and want to know more? Then this introductory seminar is for you. You get to know how search works on your intranet or on your website. Ask your own questions and get them answered. At the moment there are three occasions to choose from but keep an eye on our website for updates.

The class consists of two 45 minute blocks. Some of the topics covered are:

  • Why is search important?
  • How does a search engine work?
  • The difference between search on the internet and on your intranet
  • What is important if I want search to work well.
  • What is metadata? And what is it good for?
  • Five dimensions of findability
  • Organization, measuring, monitoring and actions

Read more and register here!

Solr training – “Solr unleashed”

Findwise also regularly hosts training in Solr. Solr Unleashed is a 2-day instructor-led, hands-on classroom-training course designed and developed by the engineers that helped write the Lucene/Solr code. This course is offered by Findwise in co-operation with Lucid imagination. Our Lucid certified instructors have successfully trained around 80 people so far. They regularly hold courses in Stockholm and London but would be happy to visit your premises upon request.

Read more about our Solr training here!

 

Have a great summer!

Impressions from Findability Day 2013

We at Findwise host Findability Day to raise awareness of the importance of enterprise search and search in business, big data and to share best practices in implementation and management as well as inform about technology developments. Attending and being part of Findability Day this year was a real energy boost for all of us at Findwise. We were about 200 attendants all with focus on search and big data.

On stage, we had some very inspiring presentations. Martin White explaining the journey of search and pointing out its future direction showed how the principles of search have been around for decades. What we use it for and how we approach it is key along with enabling technology. Martin has also written a blog post about his impressions from the event, read it here.

Ravi Mynampaty of Harvard Business School showed how the search journey has evolved within Harvard Business School. One take away was the importance of step by step implementation and ensuring satisfied stakeholders along the way. Christian Finstad of Meltwater explained how they connected business values with technology to convince their clients. I think an internal decision within an organization needs similar argumentation in order to win acceptance.

Johan Johansson gave a thorough presentation about the search project at the Municipality of Norrköping. This was a tight budget project with strong deliverables. One thing to remember from Johan was his talk about “you need to try it out yourself – do the most common searches and experience it”.

DJ Skillman from Splunk, Troels Walsted Hansen from Microsoft and Daniel Bergqvist from Google gave some interesting insights into new technologies. How Splunk can be used to just harvest every imaginable data type, just bring it in and worry about using it later. How Google want to align enterprise search with consumer search and Microsofts Facebook inspired developments within graph search.

We also had some great breakout sessions with Jonas Berg, Svensk Byggtjänst who showed us their partner search application, Martin Öhléen, SKF who talked about mobility, Sebastian Forseland, Husqvarna who gave an expert lecture on master data management and Niclas Lillman&Nicklas Eriksson, Scania who talked about their journey towards a common search solution for all their knowledge workers.

If you weren’t there or if you just want to see it again we have posted videos of the presentations and most of the slides here.

We would like to thank everybody who came to the event – you made it a real success. A big thanks also goes out to our sponsors Google and Splunk who made this event possible.

The networking possibilities at the location were great and really demonstrated how the Search industry is growing.  We are very happy with the event but there is of course always room for improvement for next year. Make sure to be there!

Big data and cloud solutions at Atea Bootcamp

After attending the very well organized and inspiring event Atea Bootcamp 2013 I want to share some of what was said about big data and about the cloud.

Data is the new oil

On the topic of big data Atea had several speakers, one of which was Niklas Andersson, the Swedish CEO of Cisco who talked about the internet of everything. With more and more devices connected to the Internet the modern world produces massive amounts of data that, to a large extent, is unstructured and transient. It comes from a variety of sources and types – as text, video, geospatial data, information captured by a sensor in a plant or a vehicle, or from social interaction via the web. One might argue that big data is nothing new, that it is just a buzz word summarizing what has been going on for many years. However, even though we already have a perception of Big data and ideas about how to handle it and use it, we are still just scraping at the surface of what will come. According to Mr Andersson 99 percent of what could be connected to the Internet still remains to be connected. What happens when we start connecting all those things? A mind blowing perspective that makes a good case for IBMs statement that data is the new oil. For us at Findwise this is of course a highly interesting field where our knowledge can be put to good use. We recently joined Spotify among others in a big data analytics research project led by SICS. Read more about it here.

Findability in the cloud

Steve Dietch, Vice president of HP Worldwide Cloud, gave an insight into the developments of cloud services and the driving forces that control IT decision makers. According to him their customers usually have two main concerns about moving into the cloud; security and choice. Security is an obvious issue and for some organizations there are regulatory aspects to it as well. The aspect of choice has to do with the pace of development and uncertainty about which vendors will dominate the field in the future and what will become industry standards. IT departments everywhere are afraid of vendor lock in. Putting all your data in the hands of an external supplier is understandably a scary concept. What happens if you want to move it? What about how it is organized? I see an obvious case for state of the art search solutions to help handling some of these issues and to relieve some of the worries from IT departments that their data will get lost. With good findability it will not matter where it is stored or which vendor provides the cloud solution.

In conclusion, big data is big business and even though different aspects of it make for different definitions of the concept it is undeniably going to have a huge impact on all of us.

Enterprise Search in Practice: A Presentation of Survey Results and Areas for Expert Guidance

Enterprise search in practice presentation has two main focuses. First, to present some interesting and sometimes rather contradicting findings from the Enterprise Search and Findability survey 2012. Second, to introduce an holistic approach to implementing search technology involving five different aspects that are all important to succeed and to reach findability rather than just the ability to search.

Presented at Gilbane Conference 2012 in Boston USA on the 28th of November by Mattias Ellison.

Presentation: Enterprise Search and Findability in 2013

This was presented 8 November at J. Boye 2012 Conference in Aarhus, Denmark, by Kristian Norling.

Presentation Summary

There is a lot of talk about social, big data, cloud, digital workplace and semantic web. But what about search, is there anything interesting happening within enterprise search and findability? Or is enterprise search dead?

In the spring of 2012,  we conducted a global survey on Enterprise Search and Findability. The resulting report based on the answers from survey tells us what the leading practitioners are doing and gives guidance for what you can do to make your organisation’s enterprise search and findability better in 2013.

This presentation will give you a sneak peak into the near future and trends of enterprise search, based on data form the survey and what the leaders that are satisfied with their search solutions do.

Topics on Enterprise Search

  •  Help me! Content overload!
  • The importance of context
  • Digging for gold with search analytics
  • What has trust to do with enterprise search?
  • Social search? Are you serious?
  • Oh, and that mobile thing

Tutorial: Optimising Your Content for Findability

This tutorial was done on the 6th of November at J. Boye 2012 conference in Aarhus Denmark. Tutorial was done by Kristian Norling.

Findability and Your Content

As the amount of content continues to increase, new approaches are required to provide good user experiences. Findability has been introduced as a new term among content strategists and information architects and is most easily explained as:

“A state where all information is findable and an approach to reaching that state.”

Search technology is readily used to make information findable, but as many have realized technology alone is unfortunately not enough. To achieve findability additional activities across several important dimensions such as business, user, information and organisation are needed.

Search engine optimisation is one aspect of findability and many of the principles from SEO works in a intranet or website search context. This is sometimes called Enterprise Search Engine Optimisation (ESEO). Getting findability to work well for your website or intranet is a difficult task, that needs continuos work. It requires stamina, persistence, endurance, patience and of course time and money (resources).

Tutorial Topics

In this tutorial you will take a deep dive into the many aspects of findability, with some good practices on how to improve findability:

  • Enterprise Search Engines vs Web Search
  • Governance
  • Organisation
  • User involvement
  • Optimise content for findability
  • Metadata
  • Search Analytics

Brief Outline

We will start some very brief theory and then use real examples and also talk about what organisations that are most satisfied with their findability do.

Experience level

Participants should have some intranet/website experience. A basic understanding of HTML, with some previous work with content management will make your tutorial experience even better. A bonus if you have done some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for public websites.

Approaches for Building a Business Case for Enterprise Search

Approaches for Identifying Information Access Needs and to Build a Business Case for Enterprise Search and Findability

We have defined a number of alternative approaches to identify the need and value of search-driven findability to support an organisation or a specific process. In other words, different methods to build a business case for enterprise search in a specific organization or process.

Task oriented

Analysing information access needs in relation to specific work task within a business process (by utilizing e.g. the method developed by Byström/Strindberg or the Customer Carewords method).

Process oriented

Mapping the process flow of sequential and dependent (value-adding) activities and the related information access needs, Analysing the dependencies/accessibility of information systems in the different activities (e.g. by using some kind of Business Process Modeling, like the Astrakan-method).

Decision oriented

Identifying and analysing the decision points and the related information access needs within a process.

Risk oriented

Analysing situations within a process or for decision points where the right information was not available. Or even worse if there only was old and unvalid information available? What would have been the outcome of the situation if the desired/needed information had been available? How can we avoid for this scenario to be repeated? Inspired by Lynda Moulton at LWM Technology Services and Martin White of IntranetFocus.

Effect oriented

Determine the desired effects from search-driven findability and define measuring point to follow up the effects over time. Includes also identification of the related target groups/personas and their information access needs to be fulfilled for the effects to be reached (based on the InUse method and previous work at Ericsson (Case Study) and Forsmark (Case Study). An enhanced variant of this method is currently being developed in a project at Chalmers.

Our ambition is to use these methods to help organisations identify information access needs and findability barriers and to help motivate search investments. The analysis could for example be performed by our Findability Business Consultants as part of an in-depth findability review focusing on either an existing application or a specific business process.