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.

Findability day in Stockholm – search trends and customer insights

Last Thursday about 50 of Findwise customers, friends and people from the industry gathered in Stockholm for a Findability day (#findday12). The purpose was simply to share experiences from choosing, implementing and developing search and findability solutions for all types of business and use cases.

Martin White, who has been in the intranet business since 1996, held the keynote speech about “Why business success depends on search”.
Among other things he spoke about why the work starts once search is implemented, how a search team should be staffed and what the top priority areas are for larger companies.
Martin has also published an article about Enterprise Search Team Management  that gives valuable insight in how to staff a search initiative. The latest research note from Martin White on Enterprise search trends and developments.

Henrik Sunnefeldt, SKF, and Joakim Hallin, SEB, were next on stage and shared their experiences from working with larger search implementations.
Henrik, who is program manager for search at SKF, showed several examples of how search can be applied within an enterprise (intranet, internet, apps, Search-as-a-Service etc) to deliver value to both employees and customers.
As for SEB, Joakim described how SEB has worked actively with search for the past two years. The most popular and successful implementation is a Global People Search. The presentation showed how SEB have changed their way of working; from country specific phone books to a single interface that also contains skills, biographies, tags and more.

During the day we also had the opportunity to listen to three expert presentations about Big data (by Daniel Ling and Magnus Ebbeson), Hydra – a content processing framework – video and presentation (by Joel Westberg) and Better Business, Protection & Revenue (by David Kemp from Autonomy).
As for Big data, there is also a good introduction here on the Findability blog.

Niklas Olsson and Patric Jansson from KTH came on stage at 15:30 and described how they have been running their swift-footed search project during the last year. There are some great learnings from working early with requirements and putting effort into the data quality.

Least, but not last, the day ended with Kristian Norling from Findwise who gave a presentation on the results from the Enterprise Search and Findability Survey. 170 respondents from all over the world filled out the survey during the spring 2012 that showed quite some interesting patterns.
Did you for example know that in many organisations search is owned either by IT (58%) or Communication (29%), that 45% have no specified budget for search and 48% of the participants have less than 1 dedicated person working with search?  Furtermore, 44,4% have a search strategy in place or are planning to have one in 2012/13.
The survey results are also discussed in one of the latest UX-postcasts from James Royal-Lawson and Per Axbom.

Thank you to all presenters and participants who contributed to making Findability day 2012 inspiring!

We are currently looking into arranging Findability days in Copenhagen in September, Oslo in October and Stockholm early next spring. If you have ideas (speakers you would like to hear, case studies that you would like insight in etc), please let us know.

Reflections on Search at Intranets 2012 conference

Despite large corporations spending hundreds of millions of euros creating information they spend almost nothing on search, Martin White said at the recent Intranets 2012 conference. But before dealing with this depressing fact, I would like to start on a more positive note.

Being a search professional it was an absolute joy to jump over to the other side of the fence and join the well over hundred intranet professionals at intranets 2012 in gorgeous Sydney. I whole heartedly recommend to search #intranets2012 on twitter to get a feel for the fun, inspiration and knowledge sharing that went on.

With sessions on collaboration, from recognized experts such as Michael Sampson, or by seasoned practitioners such as William Amurgis from American Electric Power, it was clear that social intranets are not only a buzz word but are already providing businesses with great value. Meanwhile James Robertson demanded that we raise the bar for design and usability from providing function to delivering pretty and simple intranets that surprise and delight. Mandy Geddes from Institute of Executive coaching gave me a brilliant idea of how to use private online communities to engage customers.

But in spite of returning from Sydney with a feeling of new energy, eagerness and almost urgency to get back to helping my customers and colleagues, I also realized that search was obviously not on everyone’s mind. Except for Martin White‘s excellent keynote only one session I attended to, Ausgrid Power‘s presentation of their intranet “the grid”, had search as a key area. Hopefully these few glimpses of light sparked something and I honestly think they do, bearing in mind the discussions I had in the breaks and in the fantastic social event Thursday evening.

After writing this to share my thinking, I have two things to say:

Findability ambassadors; our work has only begun and a I hope to see you all at Intranets 2013, because I’m sure going!

Inspiration from the Enterprise Search Europe 2011 conference

A couple of weeks ago, me and some of my colleagues attended the Enterprise Search Europe conference in London. We’re very grateful to the organizer Martin White at IntranetFocus for arranging the event, and having us as one of the gold sponsors.

For me it was the first time in years I attended a conference like this, and while it was “same old, same old” for many of the attendees, for me it was enlightening to meet up with the industry and have a discussion on where we are as an industry.

There were mainly software vendors and professional services/consultants there, as well a few customers or actual users of enterprise search… and I think the consensus of the two days were that we in the industry STILL haven’t really figured out what we should do with the enterprise search concept, and how to make it valuable for our customers. We at Findwise are not alone with this challenge, but rather it is an industry challenge. There are some vendors who seem to be doing some good work of delivering real value to customers, and also there are a few colleagues to us in the industry that do good professional services/consultant work. At first it was a bit of a downer to realize that we haven’t progressed more during the 10 years I’ve been in the business, but at the same time it was very inspirational to see that we at Findwise together with a few other players, seem to be on the right track with our hard work, and that we have the position to solve some of the real industry challenges we’re facing.

As I see it, if we gather our forces and make a focused “push forward” together now, we will be able to take the industry to a new maturity level where we better solve real business challenges with enterprise search (or search-driven Findability solutions, as we like to call them).

My simple analysis of all the discussions at the conference is that we need to do two things:

  1. Manage the whole “full picture” of enterprise search – from strategy to organizational governance, involving necessary competencies to cover all aspects of a successful Findability solution.
  2. Break down the customer challenge into manageable chunks, and solve actual business problems, not just solving the traditional “finding stuff when needed” challenge.

I think we are on the right track, and it’s going to be a very interesting journey from here on!