Gilbane Conferences & Advisor

Curated content for content, computing, and digital experience professionsals

Tag: enterprise search (page 1 of 5)

Enterprise Search and Findability Survey 2014

For the third year, Findwise, an enterprise search system integrator and consulting firm based in Sweden, is doing a global survey of user experiences with content findability tools. Many of us in the field of search technology want to see how enterprises are progressing with their search initiatives. Having a baseline from 2012 is a beginning to see what the continuum looks like but we need more numbers from the user community. That means participation from institutional implementers, funding managers, administrators and end-users with a stake in the outcomes they receive when they use any search technology.

Please do not let this opportunity pass, and sign on to the survey and sign up to get the resulting report later in the year. I especially hope that Findwise gets a good uptick in responses to report at the December Gilbane conference. We need to hear more voices so pass this link along to colleagues in other organizations.

Here is the link: Enterprise Search and Findability Survey 2014

Content Accessibility in the Enterprise is Really Search

The Gilbane Conference call for speakers is out and submissions are due in three days, May 2. As one who has been writing about enterprise search topics for over ten years, and engaged in search technology development since 1974, I know it is still a relevant topic.

If you are engaged in any role, in any type of content repository development or use, you know that excellent accessibility is fundamental to making content valuable and useable. You are also probably involved in influencing or trying to influence decisions that will make certain that technology implementations have adequate staffing for content metadata and controlled vocabulary development.

Please take a look at this conference track outline and consider where your involvement can be inserted. Then submit a speaking proposal to share your direct experiences with search or a related topic. Our conference participants love to hear real stories of enterprise initiatives that illustrate: innovative approaches, practical solutions, workarounds to technical and business problems, and just plain scrappy projects that bring value to a group or to the whole enterprise.  In other words, how do you get the job done within the constraints you have faced?

Track E: Content, Collaboration and Employee Engagement

Designed for content, information, technical, and business managers focused on enterprise social, collaboration, intranet, portal, knowledge, and back-end content applications.

  • Collaboration and the social enterprise
  • Collaboration tools & social platforms
  • Enterprise social metrics
  • Community building & knowledge sharing
  • Content management & intranet strategies
  • Enterprise mobile strategies
  • Content and information integration
  • Enterprise search and information access
  • Semantic technologies
  • Taxonomies, metadata, tagging

Please consider participating in the conference and especially if content findability and accessibility are high on your list of “must have” content solutions. Submit your proposal here. The need for good findability of content has never been higher and your experiences must be heard by vendors, IT managers and content experts together in this forum.

Enterprise Search Europe special discount

enterprise search europeLast May I was delighted to participate in Enterprise Search Europe in London. There I found a committed contingent from companies seeking search solutions, entrepreneurs, and search technology integrators. They were there to share common enterprise experiences with search technologies and implementation issues. Usability, specialized business use cases and leveraging search results in business intelligence were the three areas I found most engaging. Missing from the audience was a group that belongs at this meeting: content managers. Among them should be expert taxonomists, metadata specialists, and information architects responsible for the many repositories that go into quality enterprise search deployments. Take advantage of the opportunity to pick up the great expertise that you will have access to at this meeting. I am happy to extend a 20% discount code to the meeting, so please consider using it. Apply MOULTON20 in the priority code field at online registration, which you can find at the conference site: http://www.enterprisesearcheurope.com/2014/ .

Findability Issues Impact Everything Work Related

This should have been the last post of 2013 but you know how the holidays and weather (snow removal) get in the way of real work. However, throughout the month of December emails and messages, meetings, and reading peppered me with reminders that search surrounds everything we do. In my modest enterprise, findability issues occupy a major portion of my day and probably yours, too.

Deciding how important search is for workers in any enterprise is easy to determine if we think about how so many of us go about our daily work routines:

  • Receiving and sending emails, text messages, voice mail,
  • Documenting and disseminating work results,
  • Attending meetings where we listen, contribute, view presentations and take notes,
  • Researching and studying new topics or legacy content to begin or execute a project

As content accrues, information of value that will be needed for future work activities, finding mechanisms come into play, or should. That is why I probably expend 50% of my day consuming content, determining relevance and importance, deciding where and how it needs to be preserved, and clearing out debris. The other 50% of the time is devoted to retrieving, digesting and creating new content, new formulations of found material. The most common outputs are the result of:

  • Evaluation of professionals who would be candidates for speaking at programs I help organize,
  • Studying for an understanding of client needs, challenges and work environments,
  • Evaluation of technology solutions and tools for clients and my own enterprise,
  • Responding to inquiries for information, introductions, how-to solve a problem, opinions about products, people or processes,
  • Preparing deliverables to clients related to projects

Without the means and methods of my finding systems, those used by my clients, and those in the public domain, no work would get done. It is just that simple.

So, what came at me in December that made the cut of information to be made findable? A lot, but here are just three examples.

Commentary on metadata and taxonomy governance was a major topic in one session I moderated at the Gilbane Conference in Boston, Dec. 3-4, 2013. All of the panelists shared terrific observations about how and why governance of metadata and taxonomies is enterprise-critical; from one came this post-conference blog post. It, Taxonomy Governance, was written by Heather Hedden, author of The Accidental Taxonomist and a frequent speaker on taxonomy topics. The point here: when you engage in any work activity to consistently organize and manage the professional content in your possession, you are governing that material for findability. Anything that improves the process in the enterprise, is going to be a findability plus, just as it is for your own content.

Also in December, the Boston KM Forum hosted Allan Lewis, an “informaticist” at Lahey Health in Massachusetts; he is responsible for an initiative that will support healthcare professionals’ sharing of information via social business software tools. As a healthcare informatics professional, working with electronic clinical data sets to better codify diagnostic information, Allan is engaging in an enterprise-wide project. It is based on the need for a common view of medical conditions, how to diagnose them, and assign accurate classification to ensure the best records. Here is an issue where the quality of governing rules will be reached through consensus among medical experts. Again, findability is a major goal of this effort for everyone in a system, from the clinicians who need to retrieve information to the business units who must track cases and outcomes for accountability.

Last, from among the hundreds of information resources crossing my desk last month came one, a “Thank you for donating to the Wikimedia Foundation. You are wonderful!” You might ask why this did not simply get filed away for my tax return preparation; it almost did but read on.

Throughout the year I have been involved in numerous projects that rely on my ability to find definitions or explanations of hundreds of topics outside my areas of expertise. Sometimes I use known resources, such as government agency web sites that specialize in a field, or those of professional associations and publications with content by experts in a domain. I depend on finding tools at those sites to get what I am looking for. You can be certain that I know which ones have quality findability and those with difficult to use search functions.

When all else fails, my Google search is usually formatted as “define: xxx yyy” to include a phrase or name I seek to better understand. A simple term or acronym will usually net a glossary definition but for more complex topics Wikipedia is the most prominent resource showing up in results. Sometimes it is just a “stub” with notations that the entry needs updating, but more often it is very complete with scores of links and citations to help further my research. During one period when I had been beating a path to its site on a frequent basis, a banner requesting a donation appeared and persisted. As a professional benefiting from its work, I contributed a very modest sum. When the thank you came, I found the entire correspondence compelling enough to share parts of it with my readers. The last paragraph is one I hope you will read because you are interested in “search” and probably have the knowledge to contribute content that others might search for. Contributions of money and your knowledge are both important.

It’s easy to ignore our fundraising banners, and I’m really glad you didn’t. This is how Wikipedia pays its bills — people like you giving us money, so we can keep the site freely available for everyone around the world.

People tell me they donate to Wikipedia because they find it useful, and they trust it because even though it’s not perfect, they know it’s written for them. Wikipedia isn’t meant to advance somebody’s PR agenda or push a particular ideology, or to persuade you to believe something that’s not true. …

You should know: your donation isn’t just covering your own costs. The average donor is paying for his or her own use of Wikipedia, plus the costs of hundreds of other people. …

Most people don’t know Wikipedia’s run by a non-profit. Please consider sharing this e-mail with a few of your friends to encourage them to donate too. And if you’re interested, you should try adding some new information to Wikipedia. If you see a typo or other small mistake, please fix it, and if you find something missing, please add it. There are resources here that can help you get started. Don’t worry about making a mistake: that’s normal when people first start editing and if it happens, other Wikipedians will be happy to fix it for you.

So, this is my opening for 2014, a reflection on what it means to be able to find what we need to do our work and keep it all straight. The plug for Wikipedia is not a shameless endorsement for any personal gain, just an acknowledgement that I respect and have benefitted from the collaborative spirit under which it operates. I am thanking them by sharing my experience with you.

Speaker Spotlight: John Felahi – Making content findable

In another installment of Speaker Spotlight, we posed a couple of our frequently asked questions to speaker John Felahi, Chief Strategy Officer at Content Analyst Company, LLC. We’ve included his answers here. Be sure to see additional Speaker Spotlights from our upcoming conference.

John_Felahi-horiz

Speaker Spotlight: John Felahi

Chief Strategy Officer

Content Analyst Company, LLC

 

What is the best overall strategy for delivering content to web, multiple mobile, and upcoming digital channels? What is the biggest challenge? Development and maintenance cost? Content control? Brand management? Technology expertise?

One of the biggest challenges to delivering content to the web is making it as findable as possible to potential interested viewers.  While traditional, manual tagging and keyword search methods may have gotten us this far, and may be good enough for some use cases, they’re still not without limitations. The good news is, there are far more advanced, sophisticated – and automated – technologies available to remedy the numerous limitations of manual tagging content and keyword-based search. The limitations of manual tagging and keyword-based include:

  • Term creep – New terms constantly emerge, requiring taxonomies to be constantly updated.
  • Polysemy – Take Apple, for example. Is your user searching for the company, the Beatles’ record label, or the fruit?
  • Acronyms – Texting has introduced an entirely new language of acronyms (LOL, TTYL, WDYT).  Manually tagging content requires the editor to consider possible acronyms the users will be searching for.
  • Abbreviations – Tagging content with long, scientific terms, geographies, etc. require editors to factor these in along with the long terms they represent.
  • Misspellings – Thanks to spellcheck and autocorrect, technology has become much more forgiving for those who never made it past the first round eliminations in their sixth grade spelling bee. Content search, unfortunately, needs to be equally accommodating, if you want your users to find your content – which means tagging it with common misspellings.
  • Language – The web has certainly made the world a much smaller place, but that doesn’t mean everyone speaks English.  Making content findable in any language means it has to also be tagged in multiple languages.

On to the good news – there’s technology that’s been used for years in eDiscovery and the US Intelligence Community to overcome these very challenges, but for different reasons. Because the bad guys aren’t tagging their content to make it more findable, the intel community needs a better way to find what they’re looking for. And in eDiscovery, finding relevant content can make a multi-million dollar difference to the outcome of a particular litigation or other regulatory matter. That’s why tens of thousands of legal reviewers and countless analysts in the intel community use a technology known as concept-aware advanced analytics.

How concept-aware advanced analytics differs from manual tagging and keyword search

As its name implies, concept-aware understands the underlying concepts within the content. As such, it can tag content automatically.  On the viewer’s side, content can be found by simply saying, “find more like this.” Categories are defined by taking examples that represent the concepts of a category. The system “learns” what that category is all about, and can then identify conceptually similar content and apply the same category. The process is the same on the search side. The user points to a piece of content and says, “find more like this.” Or as the content publisher, you present the viewer with conceptually similar content, i.e., “you may also be interested in these articles.”

While concept-aware advanced analytics doesn’t necessarily replace manual tagging and keyword search – which work very well in certain situations – the technology clearly overcomes many of the limitations of traditional tagging and search methods.

Catch Up with John at Gilbane

Track E: Content, Collaboration, and the Employee Experience

E7: Strategic Imperatives for Enterprise Search to Succeed
Wednesday, December, 4: 2:00 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.

[button link=”http://gilbaneconference.com/program” variation=”red”]Complete Program[/button] [button link=”http://gilbaneconference.com/schedule” variation=”red”]Conference Schedule[/button] [button link=”http://gilbaneconference.com/registration” variation=”red”]Register Today[/button]

Healthcare e-Commerce Search Lessons for the Enterprise

Search Tools Wanting on Many Exchanges: This headline was too good to pass up even though stories about the failures of the Affordable Care Act web site are wearing a little thin right now. For those of us long involved in developing, delivering and supporting large software solutions, we can only imagine all the project places that have brought about this massive melt-down. Seeing this result: “many who get through the log-in process on the new health insurance exchanges then have trouble determining whether the offered policies will provide the coverage they need”, we who spend hours on external and internal web sites know the frustrations very well. It is not the “search tools” that are lacking but the approach to design and development.

This current event serves as a cautionary tale to any enterprise attempting its own self-service web-site, for employees’ in-house use, customer service extranets or direct sales on public facing sites.

Here are the basic necessary requirements, for anyone launching large-scale site search, internally or externally.

Leadership in an endeavor of this scale requires deep understanding of the scope of the goals. All the goals must be met in the short term (enrollment of both the neediest without insurance AND enrollment of the young procrastinators), and scalable for the long term. What this requires is a single authority with:

  • Experience on major projects, global in reach, size and complexity
  • Knowledge of how all the entities in the healthcare industry work and inter-relate
  • Maturity, enough to understand and manage software engineers (designers), coders, business operations managers, writers, user interface specialists and business analysts with their myriad of personality types that will be doing the work to bring millions of computing elements into synch
  • The authority and control to hire, fire, and prioritize project elements.

Simplicity of site design to begin a proof of concept, or several proofs of concept, rolled out to real prospects using a minimalist approach with small teams. This a surer path to understanding what works and what doesn’t. Think of the approach to the Manhattan Project where multiple parallel efforts were employed to get to the quickest and most practical deployment of an atomic weapon. Groves had the leadership authority to shift initiative priorities as each group progressed and made a case for its approach. This more technically complex endeavor was achieved over a 4 year period, only one year more than this government healthcare site development. Because the ability to find information is the first step for almost every shopper, it makes sense to get search and navigation working smoothly first, even as content targets and partner sites are being readied for access. Again, deep understanding of the audience, what it wants to know first and how that audience will go about finding it is imperative. Usability experts with knowledge of the healthcare industry would be critical in such an effort. The priority is to enable a search before requiring identity. Forcing enrollment of multitudes of people who just want to search, many of whom will never become buyers (e.g. counselors, children helping elderly parents find information, insurers wanting to verify their own linkages and site flow from the main site) is madness. No successful e-commerce site demands this from a new visitor and the government healthcare site has no business harvesting a huge amount of personal data that it has no use for (i.e. marketing).

Hundreds of major enterprises have failed at massive search implementations because the focus was on the technology instead of the business need, the user need and content preparation. Good to excellent search will always depend on an excellent level of organization and categorization for the audience and use intended. That is how excellent e-commerce sites flourish. Uniformity, normalization, and consistency models take time to build and maintain. They need smart people with time to think through logical paths to information to do this work. It is not a task for programmers or business managers. Content specialists and taxonomists who have dealt with content in healthcare areas for years are needed.

How a public project could fail so badly will eventually be examined and the results made known. I will wager that these three basic elements were missing from day one: a single strong leader, a simple, multi-track development approach with prototyping and attention to preparing searchable content for the target audience. Here is a lesson learned for your enterprise.

Launching Your Search for Enterprise Search Fundamentals

It’s the beginning of a new year and you are tasked with responsibility for your enterprise to get top value from the organization’s information and knowledge assets. You are the IT applications specialist assigned to support individual business units with their technology requests. You might encounter situations similar to these:

  • Marketing has a major initiative to re-write all product marketing pieces.
  • Finance is grappling with two newly acquired companies whose financial reports, financial analyses, and forecasts are scattered across a number of repositories.
  • Your Legal department has a need to categorize and analyze several thousand “idea records” that came from the acquired companies in order to be prepared for future work, patenting new products.
  • Research and development is attempting to categorize, and integrate into a single system, R&D reports from an existing repository with those from the acquisitions.
  • Manufacturing requires access to all schematics for eight new products in order to refine and retool manufacturing processes and equipment in their production area.
  • Customer support demands just-in-time retrieval and accuracy to meet their contractual obligations to tier-one customers, often from field operations, or while in transit to customer sites. The latter case often requires retrieval of a single, unique piece of documentation.

All of these groups have needs, which if not met present high risk or even exposure to lawsuits from clients or investors. You have only one specialist on staff who has had two years of experience with a single search engine, but who is currently deployed to field service operations.

Looking at just these few examples we can see that a number of search related technologies plus human activities may be required to meet the needs of these diverse constituents. From finding and assembling all financial materials across a five-year time period for all business units, to recovering scattered and unclassified emails and memos that contain potential product ideas, the initiative may be huge. A sizable quantity of content and business structural complexity may require a large scale effort just to identify all possible repositories to search for. This repository identifying exercise is a problem to be solved before even thinking about the search technologies to adopt for the “finding” activity.

Beginning the development of a categorizing method and terminology to support possible “auto-categorization” might require text mining and text analysis applications to assess the topical nomenclature and entity attributes that would make a good starting point. These tools can be employed before the adoption of enterprise search applications.

Understanding all the “use-cases” for which engineers may seek schematics in their re-design and re-engineering of a manufacturing plant is essential to selecting the best search technology for them and testing it for deployment.

The bottom line is there is a lot more to know about content and supporting its accessibility with search technology than acquiring the search application. Furthermore, the situations that demand search solutions within the enterprise are far different, and their successful application requires far greater understanding of user search expectations than Web searching for a product or general research on a new topic.

To meet the full challenge of providing the technologies and infrastructure that will deliver reliable and high value information and knowledge when and where required, you must become conversant with a boatload of search related topics. So, where do you begin?

A new primer, manageable in length and logical in order has just been published. It contains the basics you will need to understand the enterprise context for search. A substantive list of reading resources, a glossary and vendor URL list round out the book. As the author suggests, and I concur, you should probably begin with Chapter 12, two pages that will ground you quickly in the key elements of your prospective undertaking.

What is the book? Enterprise Search (of course) by Martin White, O’Reilly Media, Inc., Sebastopol, CA. © 2013 Martin White. 192p. ISBN: 978-1-449-33044-6. Also available as an online edition at: http://my.safaribooksonline.com/book/databases/data-warehouses/9781449330439

Gilbane Conference program and speakers posted

The Gilbane Conference program and speaker list are now available in addition to the conference schedule and pre-conference workshop schedule and program – there are just a few details to be added. Other changes between now and the conference will be minimal and will be reflected on the site if/as they occur, so check back once in a while.

The schedule for the product labs/case studies presented by sponsors will also be posted shortly.

« Older posts