Les Misérables and the Digital Workplace

When Optimizing Data Access Shows Soft and Hard ROI

When Optimizing Data Access Shows Soft and Hard ROIs

Les Misérables? Ring a bell?

Of course! This is a famous book by Victor Hugo, and the story is amazing! But what does it have to do with the digital workplace? Let me focus on a specific quotation and comment on similarities with the digital workplace.  It occurs in the chapter where Jean Valjean and Cosette are residing in a house with a garden.  In that part, Victor Hugo explores the multiple dimensions of nature.  What caught my attention is the following question: “Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins.  Which of the two has a grander view?”  The quotation resonated in my mind as it evokes similarities with the digital workplace, particularly in reference to data access.  For large and diverse content, having relevant and timely information is critical to companies.  There are different methods to query the data and the kind of ROI that can be expected varies by orders of magnitude.

The telescope – see far into the universe

What does it mean for the digital workplace? This means breaking internal data silos and opening up global information to your entire organization (any information shared by all, such as policies, procedures, HR information, compliance, etc.).  Having a digital workplace that includes an enterprise search layer that connects people to corporate content is therefore critical.  Every employee can see beyond its reach and access data spread over a wide range of different repositories.  This data is made available to everyone and everyone stays informed.

Such use of enterprise search does not bring a high degree of business specificity.  This is typically a Google-like experience with a simplified interface that is used indifferently by marketing, sales, engineering, or accounting people – any employee.  Working across business units to address multiple audiences (a horizontal approach) – its value can be uncovered by helping a large number of employees to find information; the ROI (Return on Investment) is based on an overall improvement of the company’s productivity.  According to McKinsey, employees spend close to two hours per day search for information.  In addition to increased productivity, such employee empowerment also has positive impacts on a company’s culture and employees’ wellbeing.  This is what we call a soft ROI.  A soft ROI is not easy to measure and rely on in a business case.  Benefits are referred to as indirect.  Having said that, some dollars savings can be estimated through productivity gains.  The main assumptions include the number of employees,  the average salary, and the percentage of working time saved thanks to a simple information finder.  A summary of an ROI that was calculated for a company comprising of 30,000 employees can be seen below.

ROI of Search for Digital Workplace

Assumptions were made regarding user adoption ramp-up schedules, with a greater number of users and a higher efficiency over time.  The ROI in this example is close to 13 million dollars over 3 years.

The microscope – explore what is next to you

How would this translate for the digital workplace? This ability would indeed be very helpful to assist intensive-knowledge workers in their daily tasks.  The term “knowledge worker” was first coined by Peter Drucker who defined knowledge workers as high-level workers who use advanced data collection techniques, statistics, complex correlations, case studies, and a lot more.  Data is key in helping them to perform their jobs.  And guess what? Enterprise search technology can also help in such a context.

As opposed to the simple Google-like experience, the objective here is to design a “Search-based application” customized with business-specific knowledge.  The value resides in the ability to follow a targeted business function along the key phases of its work.  Only enterprise search can index and aggregate very diverse data coming from both structured and unstructured content in order to extract the nuggets of information and provide a unified view on a specific topic (product, customer, company…)  For example, for a bank advisor, it is critical to aggregate internal data such as payments, information from the CRM, transaction history as well as external data, such as market analysis and news, to recommend the most relevant products to a customer.  The ROI is no longer related to a high number of people but to clear business-process improvements.  To do so, we target a precise group of knowledge workers on a designated use case in a specific vertical, a tryptic of “industry, use case, persona.”

Let’s take the example of clinical trials with a large pharmaceutical company.  Clinical trials are research studies that are aimed at evaluating a new drug.  They are the vehicles for evaluating a new drug.  They are the primary way that researchers find out if a new treatment is safe and effective.  In that case, the tryptic mentioned previously would then be “pharmaceutical, clinical trials, researchers.”  A specific “Search-based application” has been designed to dive into clinical data dispersed across millions of files and multiple systems and applications, surfacing insights to support the evaluation of new drugs.  The enterprise search technology had increased speed to market for new drugs.  Knowing that in the pharma industry, the average cost of new drug development is $1.0 billion, any slight improvement in the global process immediately gives better margins leading to bottom-line improvement.  This is what we call a hard ROI.  This type of ROI refers to clear measures that can be quantified in hard dollars.  To give you a flavor of the way the above pharmaceutical company calculated the ROI, you’ll find below some of the assumptions that were made (for your information, clinical trials include 3 main phases):

  • 10% to 14% of all drugs that make it to phase 1 succeed
  • 31% of all drugs that make it to phase 2 succeed
  • 50% of all drugs that make it to phase 3 succeed
  • 32% of drugs make it to phase 3
  • Average trial costs- phase 1: $170m; phase 2: $400m; phase 3: $530m
  • The cost of a trial is between $800m and $1.8b
  • The cost of patient/site recruitment averages $40k per patient/site

Locating key data and deriving insights is a key success factor for researchers.  The “Search-based application” has increased efficiency, shaving months off drug development timeline.  According to this large pharmaceutical corporation, the ROI realized is 25 million dollars per drug.

So, which has the grander view- the telescope or the microscope?

Both reveal worlds that are normally hidden from view.  For the digital workplace and data access, you require them both.  Accessing the right information at the right time is becoming ever more complex, and there are many factors with the potential to make it even more complicated.  Either for corporate content or business-specific data, enterprise search can help with both dimensions.  The ability to retrieve a company’s data assets and provide actionable insights in order to make informed decisions is indeed vital for business efficiency.  By applying methods and technologies, you can be sure that “Even the darkest of night will end and the sun will rise.” Another quote from Les Misérables.

Digital Workplace telescope vs microscope

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Are Brick and Mortar Retailers Dead Meat?

Are Brick and Mortar Retailers Dead Meat?

“There’s no way I can wait to get this pair of jeans!”, or “I can’t find this product on amazon, how come?”  If you have teenagers or even kids, this is probably the kind of cry of desperation that you must have heard something like a million times…and even more!

With the emergence of the Millennials and Generation Z strategy who are 150% digitally savvy, we should probably worry for the brick and mortar retailers.  Some major e-commerce players drastically transformed consumer expectations with a wide range of choices, instant delivery, low prices, etc…. but in the end, it’s not about replacing the “traditional” points of sale.  It’s about providing a consistent customer experience across different channels.

70% of consumers use a physical store either before or after their purchase, making the value of the store far greater than just the amount of sales processed within the walls.*

How does this translate for any COO or Sales & Marketing VPs and CIOs? It means they need to ensure a consistent customer experience in shops, while ensuring a delightful experience on their e-commerce website.  But how could they while the data to inform the sale process is so diverse and often unstructured? How to make sure that they’re able to unify this data, and translate it into meaningful information?

Are you prepared to go omnichannel

This is where Intelligent Search can help.

While data comes in multiple formats and is located in different data silos, Intelligent Search not only enables your organization to surface contextual information but also allows you to provide an ultimate experience to your shopper by:

  • Measuring your brand attractiveness on your target audience to inform your marketing strategy
  • Positioning your employees in POS as the ultimate experts on your products
  • Enabling a fast time to response by unifying all customer data in a single location
  • Increasing your average size transaction, thanks to relevant complementary upsell/cross-sell proposals
  • Smooth your logistics and supply chain

So what if, by removing the data silos and surfacing the hidden information across your multiple channels, you gain relevance in the way your customers find you, find the right product, and get a highly personalized brand experience? It’s time to monetize your data and drive revenue using a proven Customer 360 approach.

*Statista research

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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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Sinequa is Proud to Announce the Opening of its New Office in the Big Apple

Sinequa US Expansion

Earlier this year, Sinequa expanded to a bigger space for its North American headquarters in New York City. The move, which happened in late January, extends Sinequa’s office space from 3,665 square feet to over 8000 square feet, steps away from the legendary Madison Square Garden and major transportation hub, Penn Station.  “Additional space was necessary to meet the needs of a rapidly growing team and extended pipeline of clients,” commented Xavier Pornain, Sinequa’s VP of Sales, NA who is charged with leading the office and Sinequa’s North America growth strategy.  The new location will be the company’s third move since expanding its reach to the North American market in late 2014.

To celebrate the grand opening Sinequa’s, CEO Alexandre Bilger, and COO Fabrice de Salaberry, flew in from Paris to christen the office with champagne, confetti and a few rounds of bonzini foosball.

Sinequa is dedicated to strengthening its competencies and expertise across North America to address the diverse needs of Enterprise Search among its existing fortune 500 clients and beyond.  For more than 18 years, Sinequa has been a leader in developing a next-generation Enterprise Search platform that turns data (both structured and unstructured) into information and insights necessary for organizations to become “Information-Driven.”

“I’m very excited to see our office flourish and grow. The new office comes with lots of conference rooms to meet with customers and partners with plenty of natural light that makes it a great working environment. In addition, it shows our commitment to the U.S. market while accelerating our growth and expansion,” stated Laurent Fanichet, VP of Marketing.

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Insight Engines in Wealth: How to Build Tomorrow’s Opportunities Today

Insight Engines in Wealth

McKinsey feels pessimistic. In their recent report, On the cusp of change: North American wealth management in 2030McKinsey forecast the future of wealth management. It’s a useful, thoughtful report. But you don’t have to wait until 2030. Most of the opportunities they sketch can be built today, with an insight engine.

Unsurprisingly, McKinsey provides a useful framework to think about the future of wealth management. They ask three big questions:

  • What will happen to advice?
  • What will happen to advisors?
  • What will wealth management firms do?

Insight engines — available today — can help provide answers to several of these questions. For context, I will explain insight engines briefly, covering their origins and what they do. Then, we can move on to explore how insight engines apply to wealth management today.

Insight engines: enterprise search evolved

Insight engines are enterprise search evolved. Gartner retired the category of enterprise search in 2016. In 2017, they unwrapped Insight Engines to reflect the profound changes in customer needs and technology capabilities.

Insight engines differ from enterprise search both in what they offer and the technologies used. In their inaugural 2018 report, Gartner highlights how Insight Engines are different:

Insight engines are distinguished by their capability to deliver insights in context to the right person, in the right place, at the right time.”

And they explain how the underlying technologies differ as well:

“These capabilities stem from the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, specifically natural-language processing, graph-based data structures, and machine learning.”

Sinequa, a provider of insight engines to financial institutions, has been a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines since the category began.

Sinequa evolves enterprise search and insight engines even further. Coupling two decades of research in natural language processing with the latest deep learning approaches means users get immediate, relevant, auto-improving answers to their questions. Users have a complete view of customers or products or risks or contracts or deals all within a single view, created instantly from the most up-to-date content.

Advice

On advice, McKinsey makes three predictions:

  1. Hyper-personalized advice model built on data and continuous access.
  2. Bite-sized “fit-nance.” This means developing a granular ability to track customer investments, education, retirement, and broader financial wellness.
  3. Big tech will capture a large share of industry economics by providing core technology infrastructure.

The best investment advice comes from distilling mounds of data down into recommendations tailored to the client’s risk appetite and return objective. Sinequa’s Insight Engine delivers the investment insights required. The platform can search across all data sources including internal and external, cloud and on-premise, along with structured and unstructured data. Sinequa simplifies assessing financial wellness by providing a unified view of client assets and liabilities, irrespective of where the data is stored.

Advisors

For advisors, McKinsey thinks their working lives will change in three ways:

  1. Advisors remit expands to provide coaching on broader wealth and life issues. And McKinsey expects the industry to shed a fifth of its total advisors.
  2. The face of the advisor will become much more diverse, spanning increased numbers of women, minorities, and mid-career changers.
  3. User ratings will become ubiquitous, making advisor performance transparent.

Increasing advisor productivity remains a perennial challenge. Things will get worse as the current generation of wealth advisors retire. Routine work needs automating, so advisors can focus on adding value through relationship management and advice. Sinequa’s Insight Engine augments wealth advisors by saving their time foraging for data. And it applies decades of R&D in natural language processing, so advisors don’t have to read reams of documents.

Wealth management firms

McKinsey expects wealth management firms to have to make the most changes:

  1. Industry talent becomes more digital as wealth firms function as technology platforms.
  2. Several-at-scale firms will serve everyone while the rest will focus on providing differentiated service to ultra- and high-net-worth clients.
  3. Operational excellence will be required to protect margins from increasing transparency and falling fees.
  4. Integrated banking-wealth management ecosystems will emerge.

Insight engines can help wealth management survive and succeed in several ways:

  • Accelerate wealth firms build-out of their technology platforms with reduced risk using Sinequa’s multi-use-case Insights Engine.
  • Provide a unified view of clients to provide differentiated service to the extreme expectations of ultra- and high-net-worth clients.
  • Achieve operational excellence by applying All the AlphasHistorically, the wealth management industry has over-focused on the most transient of the alphas – the quest for above-market returns or investment alpha. However, this has resulted in overlooking the value hidden inside other internal functions, such as distribution and service. Delivering exceptional performance (alpha) in these functions can create competitive advantages more durable than investment alpha.
  • Find information and insight across any ecosystem, irrespective of the type, number, or location of ecosystem partners.

If you work at a wealth management firm and would like to learn more about how you can build tomorrow’s opportunities today, please attend one of our briefings.

Here’s how it works. You choose how much time you want to spend and where you want to spend it. We have an Executive Briefing Center on West 30th in New York City or in Paris or we can come to your office. We customize each briefing to your objectives and business challenges. We’ll start the briefing sharing our perspectives on insight engines in financial engines, learn more about your business, and discuss topics tailored to you. To arrange a briefing, please contact us at info@sinequa.com and add the subject line “Wealth Briefing.”

 

 

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