Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Month: June 2007 (Page 3 of 4)

Turbo Search Engines in Cars; it is not the whole solution

In my quest to analyze the search tools that are available to the enterprise, I spend a lot of time searching. These searches use conventional on-line search tools, and my own database of citations that link to articles, long forgotten. But true insights about products and markets usually come through the old-fashioned route, the serendipity of routine life. For me search also includes the ordinary things I do everyday:

  • Looking up a fact (e.g. phone number, someone’s birthday, woodchuck deterrents), which I may find in an electronic file or hardcopy
  • Retrieving a specific document (e.g. an expense form, policy statement, or ISO standard), which may be on-line or in my file cabinet
  • Finding evidence (e.g. examining search logs to understand how people are using a search engine, looking for a woodchuck hole near my garden, examining my tires for uneven tread wear), which requires viewing electronic files or my physical environment
  • Discovering who the experts are on a topic or what expertise my associates have (e.g. looking up topics to see who has written or spoken, reading resumes or biographies to uncover experience), which is more often done on-line but may be buried in a 20-year old professional directory on the shelf
  • Learning about a subject I want or need to understand (e.g. How are search and text analytics being used together in business enterprises? what is the meaning of the tag line “Turbo Search Engine” on an Acura ad?), which were partially answered with online search but also by attending conferences like the Text Analytics Summit 2007 this week

This list illustrates several things. First search is about finding facts, evidence, aggregated information (documents). It is also about discovering, learning and uncovering information that we can then analyze for any number of decisions or potential actions.

Second, search enables us to function more efficiently in all of our worldly activities, execute our jobs, increase our own expertise and generally feed our brains.

Third, search does not require the use of electronic technology, nor sophisticated tools, just our amazing senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.

Fourth, that what Google now defines as “cloud computing” and MIT geeks began touting as “wearable” technology a few years ago have converged to bring us cars embedded with what Acura defines as “turbo search engines.” On this fourth point, I needed to discover the point. In small print on the full page ad in Newsweek were phrases like “linked to over 7,000,000 destinations” and “knows where traffic is.” In even tinier print was the statement, “real-time traffic monitoring available in select markets…” I thought I understood that they were promoting the pervasiveness of search potential through the car’s extensive technological features. Then I searched the Internet for the phrase “turbo search engine” coupled with “Acura” only to learn that there was more to it. Notably, there is the “…image-tagging campaign that enables the targeted audience to use their fully-integrated mobile devices to be part of the promotion.” You can read the context yourself.

Well, I am still trying to get my head around this fourth point to understand how important it is to helping companies find solid, practical search solutions to problems they face in business enterprises. I don’t believe that a parking lot full of Acura’s is something I will recommend.

Fifth, I experienced some additional thoughts about the place for search technology this week. Technology experts like Sue Feldman of IDC and Fern Halper of Hurwitz & Associates appeared on a panel at the Text Analytics Summit. While making clear the distinctions between search and text analytics, and text analytics and text mining, Sue also made clear that algorithmic techniques employed by the various tools being demonstrated are distinct for each solving different problems in different business situations. She and others acknowledge that finally, having embraced search, enterprises are now adopting significant applications using text analytic techniques to make better sense of all the found content.

Integration was a recurring theme at the conference, even as it was also obvious that no one product embodies the full range of text search, mining and analytics that any one enterprise might need. When tools and technologies are procured in silos, good integration is a tough proposition, and a costly one. Tacking on one product after another and trying to retrofit to provide a seamless continuum from capturing, storing, and organizing content to retrieving and analyzing the text in it, takes forethought and intelligent human design. Even if you can’t procure the whole solution to all your problems at once, and who can, you do need a vision of where you are going to end up so that each deployment is a building block to the whole architecture.

There is a lot to discover at conferences that can’t be learned through search, like what you absorb in a random mix of presentations, discussions and demos that can lead to new insights or just a confirmation of the optimal path to a cohesive plan.

Are you a CGB Manager?

That’s Content, Globalization, or Brand manager …
As convergence of these three business practices starts to accelerate, it’s increasingly likely that the roles are Content and/or Globalization and/or Brand management. Convergence is a key theme on our globalization log and at our upcoming Gilbane Boston 2007.
If you’re involved in these practices at your company, take the Poll of the Week on Globalization and Brand Management .
If you’re just getting up to speed on their convergence, register for the June 26 webinar on web CMS and eMarketing. Websites are integral to every enterprise’s business. Learn how to transform your content management system into a global lead generation machine.

Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 Debate

At last week’s conference in Washington (where Tony Byrne did a great job with the program), we had a lively discussion in the opening keynote panel after I made a disparaging comment about “Web 2.0”. Of course I was referring to the term not to the various technologies or concepts that the term may or may not include depending on who is attempting to define it as a “thing-in-itself”. But somehow I wasn’t clear about that and, judging by the reaction, there appeared to be a generational-like difference of opinion, which was complicated by this classic problem of confusing a name with an object. In any case it was fun, and the debate carried on through some of the other conference sessions. I also brought up “Enterprise 2.0” which I’ve discussed before, but for some reason couldn’t remember Andrew McAfee’s name when I was recommending further reading, so here is his blog.
For those of you attending the Enterprise 2.0 conference next week, or who are local, there will be a debate between Andrew and Tom Davenport, who have different opinions on Enterprise 2.0. The debate itself is open to the public even if not registered for the conference. Here is more info. We are media sponsors of the conference and have a special discount available. Just register and use discount code MLQTEB16 when you register.
Also keep in mind our own annual Boston conference in November where we’ll be continuing our coverage of “enterprise social software” technologies.

Webinar: Medtronic, DITA, Single-Sourcing, and Multi-Channel Communications

On Wednesday, June 13 at 1:00 EST, Senior Analyst Bill Trippe will be doing a Webinar with Medtronic and the XMetal folks at JustSystems.
While documentation is a necessary deliverable for all companies, its value and contribution to bottom-line business results is often underestimated and overlooked. For Medtronic, one of the world’s most innovative medical device manufacturers, documentation is much more than a checkbox on a product release timeline – it is a direct link to customer satisfaction and patient well-being. Medtronic’s Rob Kimm will discuss Medtronic’s approach to delivering a better customer experience while also ensuring compliance with regulations that impact technical documentation.
Prior to using DITA, Medtronic had a decentralized, heterogeneous environment that slowed production and resulted in redundant workflows. Seven project deliverables were developed in 5 different tools, and the mutually-exclusive tools allowed for little to no ability to achieve true reuse of common content. They now can reuse common content across deliverable types, which has led to great efficiency, accuracy, and consistency.
To register for the Webinar, please visit here.

Web Services and Service-Oriented Architecture for Business Managers

Business managers serving on WCM product-selection teams or attending technology conferences sometimes ask for definitions of “Web services” and “service-oriented architecture (SOA).” They say they are confused by their IT teams’ usage of the terms as though they were synonymous, and that when the managers themselves use the terms interchangeably, they get corrected. Why does this happen?
Web services, a technology standard, and SOA, an architectural design methodology, are highly complementary. Yet they are distinct. “Web services” refers to technologies that allow enterprise applications of all kinds (WCM, CRM ERP, BI, etc.) to communicate with each other. Common forms of Web services include application programming interfaces (APIs), which are connectors written by software vendors that allow for a standard way of communicating with their applications. Vendors often publish or sell these APIs as a straightforward means of connecting. Another common – and more generic – example of a Web service is any message, often in XML format, exchanged between a client (a Web browser, for example) and a server (your bank’s database) using the SOAP protocol. There are variations on these two themes, but the important concept to remember about Web services is that, simply put, they allow for a standard means of communication between software applications which may or may not rely upon transmission over the Web. Web services very frequently communicate only over corporate networks.

SOA, on the other hand, is not a technology. Rather, it is a way of designing connections between objects (application code components), applications, and other technology infrastructure. Like the frame of a building with respect to its windows and floors, SOA only defines the relationships between technology components, not their composition. SOA’s goals are to achieve self-sufficiency for each component – i.e. that each component will perform one complete task or “service” – and for each component to offer its “service” to all of the others. It stands to reason then, that Web services and SOA often fit together well because SOA provides a framework within which discrete components can interact with each other, and Web services provide a standard way of building the components.

A Story About Structured Content and Search

Today was spent trying to sift through four distinct piles of paper, a backlog of email messages, and managing my calendar. My goal was first to get rid of documents and articles that are too old or irrelevant to “deal with.” The remainder I intended to catalog in my database, file in the appropriate electronic folder, or place in a new pile as a “to-do list.” This final pile plus my email “In Box” would then be systematically assigned to a spot in my calendar for the next six weeks. I did have deadlines to meet, but they depended on other people sending me content, which never came. So I kept sifting and organizing. As you can guess, the day that began with lofty intentions of getting to the bottom of the piles so that I could prioritize my real work is ending, instead, with this blog entry. It is not the one I began for this week four days ago.

First, the most ironic moment of the day came from the last pile in which I turned over an article that must have made an impression in 1997, from Newsweek it was entitled Drowning in Data. I knew I shouldn’t digress, again, but reading it confirmed what I already knew. We all have been “drowning in data” since at least 1997 and for all the same reasons we were back then, Internet publishing, email, voice mail, and faxes (well not so much anymore). It has the same effect as it did ten years ago on “info-stressed” professionals; it makes us all want to go slower so we can think about what is being thrown at us. Yes, that is why I was isolated trying to bring order to the info-glut on my desks. The article mentioned that “the average worker in a large corporation sent and received an astounding 177 messages a day…”

That is the perfect segue to my next observation. In the course of the day, while looking for emails needed to meet deadlines, I emptied over 300 messages from my Junk Mailbox, over 400 from my Deleted Mailbox, and that left me with just 76 in my In Mailbox, which I will begin acting on when I finish this blog entry. (Well, may-be after dinner.) What happened today that caused six different search vendors to send invitations to Webinars or analyst briefings? Oh well, when I finally get around to filling out my calendar for the next six weeks I will probably find out that some, if not all, conflict with appointments I already have. So, may-be I should finish the calendar before responding to the emails.

In the opening of this story I mentioned four distinct piles; I lied. As one document was replaced by another, I discovered that there was no unifying theme for any one pile. So much for categorization, but I did find some important papers that required immediate action, which I took.

Finally, I uncovered an article from http://techweb.cmp.com/iw in 1996. The Information Week archives don’t go back that far but the title was Library on an Intranet. It described a Web-based system for organizing corporate information by Sequent Computer Systems. I know why I saved it; because I had developed and was marketing corporate library systems to run over company networks back in 1980. I did find a reference to the Sequent structured system for organizing and navigating corporate content. You will find it at: http://www.infoloom.com/gcaconfs/WEB/seattle96/lmd.HTM#N136. It is a very interesting read.

What a ride we have had trying to corral this info-glut electronically for over 30 years. From citation searching using command languages in the 1970s, to navigation and structured searching in library systems in the 1980s and 90s, to Web-based navigation coupled with full-text searching in the mid-90s; it never ends. And I am still trying to structure my paper piles into a searchable collection of content.

May-be browsing the piles isn’t such a bad idea after-all. I never would have found those articles using “search” search.

Postscript: This really happened. When I finished this blog entry and went to place the “Drowning…” article on a pile I never got to, there on the top was an article from Information Week, April 9, 2007, entitled “Too Much Information.” I really didn’t need to read the lecturing subtitle: Feeling overwhelmed? You need a comprehensive strategy, not a butterfly net, to deal with data overload. I can assure you, I wasn’t waving butterfly nets all day.

Medtronic, DITA, Single-Sourcing, and Multi-Channel Communications

On Wednesday, June 13 at 1:00 Eastern Time, we will be doing a Webinar with Medtronic and the XMetal folks at JustSystems.
While documentation is a necessary deliverable for all companies, its value and contribution to bottom-line business results is often underestimated and overlooked. For Medtronic, one of the world’s most innovative medical device manufacturers, documentation is much more than a checkbox on a product release timeline—it is a direct link to customer satisfaction and patient well-being. Medtronic’s Rob Kimm will discuss Medtronic’s approach to delivering a better customer experience while also ensuring compliance with regulations that impact technical documentation.
Prior to using DITA, Medtronic had a decentralized, heterogeneous environment that slowed production and resulted in redundant workflows. Seven project deliverables were developed in 5 different tools, and the mutually-exclusive tools allowed for little to no ability to achieve true reuse of common content. They now can reuse common content across deliverable types, which has led to great efficiency, accuracy, and consistency.
To register for the Webinar, please visit here.

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2021 The Gilbane Advisor

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑