Curated content for content, computing, and digital experience professionsals

Day: April 25, 2007

Turning Around a Bad Enterprise Search Experience

Many organizations have experimented with a number of search engines for their enterprise content. When the search engine is deployed within the bounds of a specific content domain (e.g. a QuickPlace site) the user can assume that the content being searched is within that site. However, an organization’s intranet portal with a free-standing search box comes with a different expectation. Most people assume that search will find content anywhere in the implied domain, and for most of us we believe that all content belonging to that domain (e. g. a company) is searchable.

I find it surprising how many public Web sites for media organizations (publishers) don’t appear to have their site search engines pointing to all the sub-sites indicated in site maps. I know from my experience at client sites that the same is often true for enterprise searching. The reasons are numerous and diverse, commentary for another entry. However, one simple notation under or beside the search box can clarify expectations. A simple link to a “list of searchable content” will underscore the caveat or at least tip the searcher that the content is bounded in some way.

When users in an organization come to expect that they will not find, through their intranet, what they are seeking but know to exist somewhere in the enterprise, they become cynical and distrustful. Having a successful intranet portal is all about building trust and confidence that the search tool really works or “does the job.” Once that trust is broken, new attempts to change the attitudes by deploying a new search engine, increasing the license to include more content, or doing better tuning to return more reliable results is not going to change minds without a lot of communication work to explain the change. I know that the average employee believes that all the content in the organization should be brought together in some form of federated search but now know it isn’t. The result is that they confine themselves to embedded search within specific applications and ignore any option to “search the entire intranet.”

It would be great to see comments from readers who have changed a Web site search experience from a bad scene to one with a positive traffic gain with better search results. Let us know how you did it so we can all learn.

Translation and Web Content Management Under One Roof – SDL Tridion

The integration of content and translation management workflows has a great deal of value for globalization projects. And as we’ve discussed, there are various market approaches to streamlining these increasingly complex processes. With the announcement of SDL International’s intended acquisition of Tridion (set to close by end of May,) buyers officially have an additional approach — translation and Web content management under one roof.

In this case, the opportunity is clearly for marketers who struggle to meet growing corporate and consumer demand for a multi-site, multi-lingual Web presence that drives revenue and protects brand (for the former) and delivers localized customer experiences (for the latter.) The time is right for this marriage, as globalization continues to climb toward the top of the CIO’s “must-have” strategy list.

SDL and Tridion are undoubtedly headed toward a cohesive integration of their respective TMS and Web CMS technologies, which makes a great deal of sense for those organizations wishing to standardize on one platform for Web site translation and management. As we would expect, API-level workflow integration is at the top of the priority list, according to executives from both companies. There’s quite a bit of potential for more, when one considers the ability of SDL’s Author Assistant to enhance the value of content at its source, i.e. during content creation, as well as the power of Tridion’s Communications Statistics module to drive process improvements based on data culled from user activities. Safe to say it will be interesting to watch the evolution of this combined product line for its impact on the Web content lifecycle.
As we’ve seen in the ECM and BPM suite market, the trend toward vendor consolidation changes the landscape dramatically and spurs the inevitable “suite versus best-of breed” debate. Within the globalization market, we expect this acquisition to follow suit — after all, the marriage crosses the “dotted line” by solidifying the value of content and translation management integration.

At the end of the day however, the buyer defines the purchasing decision that makes the most sense, based on the most pressing — or painful — business requirements. As it stands now, Tridion will be a separate division within SDL and operate autonomously. R5 will be sold as a module within the SDL product set and renamed SDL Tridion R5. In parallel, SDL TMS will be sold as a Tridion module.

In effect, this strategy leaves decision-making in the hands of the buyer, as it should be. Hence, the immediate goal for this marriage is to demonstrate just how compelling the promise of a “total solution” will be. The CMPros community is already weighing in on the potential; Gilbane readers: join the conversation! We’d like to continue this discussion with your feedback.