Enterprise Search in the Digital Workplace

easy-enterprise-searchThis article originally appeared on the APQC blog.

Any knowledge-intensive organization of significant size either has a digital workplace or is scrambling to establish one. As Gartner so clearly stated back in 2017, the goal of the digital workplace as a business strategy is to boost employee engagement and agility through a more “consumerized” work environment. Employees should be empowered and motivated to get the information they need and then act on it to further the goals of the organization. The tools and resources provided to employees should seem familiar—like those used outside of work — in order to drive adoption and maximize ongoing productivity.

Building the Foundation

Gartner’s “building block” diagram illustrates the components necessary to enable and sustain an effective digital workplace. Note the “Information” building block, described as data and content being delivered in context. As organizations continue to pursue initiatives around digitization and digital transformation, they often create new challenges for their employees to overcome. Many of these challenges emanate from content and data that is accumulating quickly and constantly across siloed repositories in different formats and languages. For employees, navigating this complexity means wasted time, missed insights, and lost opportunities. The answer to this problem is enterprise search.

Gartner's Building Blocks of The Digital Workplace

Collaboration that Scales

A modern enterprise search platform includes a combination of capabilities that work together to provide information from enterprise content and data. It provides information relevance that is tuned to user needs and can improve through self-learning over time. It can scale in multiple directions, enabling many end-users to simultaneously access relevant information and insights from huge, diverse volumes of content and data. Modern search provides speedy response times, even in the most complex and demanding environments where time is literally money. The user experience can be easily configured to accommodate specialty use cases. Analytics are automated wherever possible, allowing the machine to do analysis while users apply judgment and make decisions.

Driving Business Value

Depending on the environment and application of enterprise search, the business impact can take on different forms. In some cases, enterprise search can drive revenue.  This has been proven in large pharma companies that are able to bring new drugs to market faster and in manufacturing and service organizations that can generate more proposals without sacrificing quality. In other cases, enterprise search drives cost optimization, accelerated productivity, and responsive compliance.

Conclusion

What companies need now is a practical means of connecting the dots to tap the potential value of all the content and data that resides across enterprise systems.  Doing so will address all kinds of business challenges, including those that were unforeseen in the implementation of each individual system.  Intelligent search platforms such as Sinequa can enable organizations to rise to these challenges and help transform the way professionals, businesses, and industries interact and operate in the digital world.

 

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Working Effectively while Working Remotely with Enterprise Search

COVID-19 Work From Home

The working world is experiencing an unprecedented spike in remote work. “We’re being forced into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and, so far, it hasn’t been easy for a lot of organizations to implement,” says Saikat Chatterjee, Senior Director, Advisory at Gartner. “In a recent webinar snap poll, 91% of attending HR leaders indicated that they have implemented ‘work from home’ arrangements since the outbreak, but the biggest challenge stems from the lack of technology infrastructure and lack of comfort with new ways of working.”

At the center of these challenges are employees not having a consistent and reliable way to reach the information they need to be well-informed. In some organizations, this is happening quickly and even starting to threaten business continuity, especially as more employees begin to rely on the digital workplace to be productive.

Enterprise Search in the Digital Workplace

Any knowledge-intensive organization of significant size probably has a digital workplace that includes what could be referred to as enterprise search (even if they don’t call it that). Maybe they downloaded an open-source kit that provides employees with a rudimentary way to query across sources using keywords. Or maybe they’ve chosen the ecosystem of a large technology company like Microsoft, Google, or IBM, which tend to exclude content and data stored outside of the ecosystem.  Now, faced with a sudden surge in the importance of quickly accessing essential information, regardless of its source or format, companies are realizing that these solutions fall short.

Regardless of the initial path chosen, there are some fundamental requirements that must be seriously considered to maximize the value of an enterprise search investment. These requirements include the following:

  • All enterprise content and data across time, locations, and languages must be securely available for employees to access without the need for risky data migration projects
  • Data security and access control must be rigorously enforced by default
  • Relevance and information accuracy are a must for users to do their work properly and swiftly. This requires different types of linguistic analysis, preferably provided out-of-the-box to save time in implementing enterprise search.
  • Classification-by-example powered by machine learning algorithms must also be available out-of-the-box for scenarios where a rules-based approach does not suffice
  • The user interface must be flexible and agile to support solutions for multiple use cases across the organization

These capabilities provide significant benefits for employees in the digital workplace in several different ways. Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits.

Employee Productivity

Having a robust enterprise search solution in place allows employees to quickly find the document, content, and information they are looking for, rather than spending time trying to contact other employees and disturb everyone’s workflow. This enables people to save crucial time, which can be channeled into more productive work.

Knowledge Sharing

According to data collected prior to the current spike in remote work, Fortune 500 companies were already losing roughly $31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge. Much of this “hidden” knowledge could be extremely useful in providing new hires with information that is not widely known by other employees within the organization.  Making sure this knowledge is explicit and findable lays a foundation for a much more efficient workforce.

Enterprise search enables organizations to surface the know-how and experience of senior managers so that the knowledge of the organization does not remain hidden when the employee leaves.  With an enterprise search solution in place, your current or future employees can easily access this information and continue doing their work with ease.

Information Access

It’s difficult to know with any certainty how much productive time employees are leaving on the table just because they cannot find the desired information or content they are looking for.  According to a benchmarking survey done by the folks over at IntraTeam, users within only 25% of organizations surveyed are satisfied with the internal search functionality.  And that was before everyone was suddenly displaced from their offices and forced to use online tools for the majority of their work.

Having a robust digital workplace structure in place means easy access to information. Enterprise search in the digital workplace provides a central place to look for all files, documents, presentations, spreadsheets, weblinks, and other rich media. This makes it extremely easy for team members, irrespective of their location to access information from any device quickly.

Competitive Advantage

Consistently well-informed employees can also provide better service to customers and offer better turnaround times. Since they are saving a lot of time, they can focus on the things that really matter and contribute to the business’s success more effectively.

Summary

The old phrase “Make hay while the sun shines” reminds us to make the most of our opportunities while we have the chance. In the current world health climate, with travel restrictions becoming more prevalent and events being canceled or postponed, now might be the ideal time for organizations to invest in tools and technology that directly drive operational efficiency. The positive impacts in terms of business continuity, cost savings, and employee empowerment can be enormous.

 

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Enterprise Search Development: Start With the User Interface

This article was originally published on CMSWire.

Enterprise Search Development: Start With the User Interface 

By Martin White | Mar 10, 2020

sinequa-screenshot-enterprise-search

Start with the user interface (UI) and work backwards. That was the advice I shared with search managers developing their existing application or planning a new application during an enterprise search workshop at the recent IntraTeam event in Copenhagen, Denmark. Sinequa recently sent me some examples of user interfaces from its customers (thank you Laurent Fanichet), which showed the variety and inevitable complexity of enterprise search UIs. Too often businesses make a deliberate choice on the technology and give little thought to the UI (so much for the ethos of user-centric delivery!).

The topics outlined below cannot be left to the implementation stage. Most search applications (with the obvious exception of Office 365) are UI neutral and can support almost any UI development language. Early work around these topics is essential, even at the specification stage, to ensure the investment is fit for purpose, not just to specification.

Metadata

Enterprise information collections are much larger than might be imagined and inevitably contain many near-identical documents. HR and related corporate policies are just one example of this. So delivering the “most relevant” document in response to a query is limited at best.

The rhetoric of personalization through AI usually fails to deliver for two reasons: First, it assumes the user is seeking the information for themselves. Second, AI works on the basis of prior searches, but many of the searches will be by people who are new to an organization or role.

sinequa-screenshot-patent-miningProvide users with filters and facets so they can refine a set of results. But keep in mind, providing filtering just by file format and last revised date is a waste of screen space. Ask people how they might want to filter (e.g. country, date of publication, department, language). With that valuable information in hand, work out how the metadata to drive these filters is going to be derived — either from the text of the document, through tags or a combination.

Snippet Options

Quite a lot of work has been undertaken into the format of snippets. One size does not fit all. This is especially the case in enterprise search where the primary assessment of results is through information foraging. The format of the result and what ancillary information can be switched on or off by the user is important to consider. For some searches an expanded snippet with highlighted query terms might be invaluable, but this will limit the number of results displayed per page.

Usability

Designing search pages that scroll is a seriously bad idea. Even if the results are scrolled, the ancillary filters and facets will remain stationery, and in any case people will want to see the results in the context of a page of results. When usability testing happens later in the project, it will start with a discussion about which elements of the UI have been the subject of continuing discussion without a clear resolution and need real-life testing.

Accessibility

In the digital workplace, accessibility is very important as there will be few workarounds. At the outset you should be working with accessibility consultants to consider how voice browsers will work with the proposed UI and what the implications are for staff on the dyslexia spectrum.

Federated Search/Multilingual Search

The current interest in presenting the results from multiple repositories seems to ignore the challenges in how to present the final results. When there are only two applications (or languages) then two windows might be the best option, but as the number increases so does the complexity of the user interface. This becomes even more acute when results from text searches need to be interleaved with results from enterprise databases.

Training and Support

No matter how well you design a user interface, enterprise search is never going to be intuitive. This is due to the variable quality of the content and the metadata and the wide range of queries. Any discussion about a search UI has to take into account the extent to which training might be required for one or more aspects which will be a challenge to use.

To read the full article please visit https://www.cmswire.com/information-management/enterprise-search-development-start-with-the-user-interface/

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Big Projects on Track: Achieving the Goals of Long, Complex Projects

big-track-manufacturing-06-2019-1024Big projects, well executed, are the lifeblood of large, distributed manufacturing organizations.

Such projects solve existing and future problems that enable the organization and its stakeholders (and sometimes all of society) to move forward economically. These projects are naturally chaotic and require significant organization and planning to manage the chaos. Successfully executing these projects also means bringing together the right people and making it easy for them to collaborate, share ideas and provide inspiration.Today’s large, distributed manufacturing organizations cannot successfully plan and execute big projects without intelligent automation to help connect project stakeholders to relevant information and to each other.

Download the Big Projects On Track solution white paper to learn how one of the largest rolling stock manufacturers in the world addressed this challenge.

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Sinequa Releases Next Generation User Experience Framework

Sinequa invested significantly in the latest release of its product to evolve the way the platform presents insights to end users, automatically adapting to each user’s device. This required a complete overhaul of the user interface framework to a responsive design based on Angular 7 that opens up application development on the Sinequa platform to a much wider audience.

Angular Framework

“We are very grateful for the practical insights provided by our customer base and partner network, we could not have done it without them,” said Philippe Motet, vice president of engineering at Sinequa . “This next generation framework will open up the floodgates for application developers worldwide to benefit from the power of the Sinequa platform quickly and without a hefty learning curve to enhance the user experience.“

Based on the newly released responsive design framework, Sinequa tackled the revamping of its platform user interface with the help of a strategic UI design consultancy. This initiative resulted in a simplified and streamlined end user experience powered by redesigned UI components purposefully calibrated to align with end user needs.

This represents the most visible evolution of the Sinequa platform and adds to a growing list of innovations released by the company. Other recent innovations released by Sinequa include numerous enhancements to its linguistic processing engine as well as deep integration with market leading platforms like Spark for supervised machine learning and Tensorflow for unsupervised deep learning.

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