Friday, January 10, 2014
Unified Index to Information Repositories
Amount of information is doubling every 18 months, and unstructured information volumes grow six times faster than structured.
Employees spend far too much time, about 20% of their time, on average, looking for, not finding and recreating information. Once they find the information, 42% of employees report having used the wrong information, according to a recent survey.
To combat this reality, for years, companies have spent hundreds of thousands, even millions, to move data to centralized systems, in an effort to better manage and access its growing volumes, only to be disappointed as data continues to proliferate outside of that system. Even with a single knowledgebase in place, employees report decrease in critical customer service metrics, due to the inability to quickly locate the right knowledge and information to serve customers.
Despite best efforts to move data to centralized platforms, companies are finding that their knowledgebase runs throughout enterprise systems, departments, divisions and newly acquired subsidiaries. Knowledge is stored offline in PCs and laptops, in emails and archives, intranets, file shares, CRM systems, ERPs, home-grown systems, and many others—across departments and across geographies.
Add to this the proliferation of enterprise applications use (including social networks, wikis, blogs and more) throughout organizations and it is no wonder that efforts to consolidate data into a single knowledgebase, a single "version of the truth" have failed... and at a very high price.
The bottom line is, moving data into a single knowledgebase is a losing battle. There remains a much more successful way to effectively manage your knowledge ecosystem without moving data.
When there are multiple systems containing organization's information are in place, a better approach is to stop moving data by combining structured and unstructured data from virtually any enterprise system, including social networks, into a central, unified index. Think of it as an indexing layer that sits above all enterprise systems, from which services can be provided to multiple departments, each configured to that department’s specific needs.
This approach enables dashboards, focused on various business departments and processes, prospective customers. Such composite views of information provide new, actionable perspectives on many business processes, including overall corporate governance. The resulting juxtaposition of key metrics and information improves decision making and operational efficiency.
This approach allows IT departments to leverage their existing technology, and avoid significant cost associated with system integration and data migration projects. It also helps companies avoid pushing their processes into a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter framework.
With configurable dashboards, companies decide how/what/where information and knowledge is presented, workflows are enabled, and for what groups of employees. Information monitoring and alerts facilitate compliance. There is virtually no limit to the type of information and where it is pulled from, into the central, unified and, importantly, highly secure index: structured, unstructured, from all corporate email, files, archives, on desktops and in many CRMs, CMS, knowledgebases, etc.
Enterprise applications have proliferated throughout organizations, becoming rich with content. And yet all of that knowledge and all of that content remain locked within the community, often not even easily available to the members themselves.
Now it is possible to leverage the wisdom of communities in enterprise search efforts. User rankings, best bets and the ability to find people through the content they create are social search elements that provide the context employees and customers have come to expect from their interactions with online networks.
Imagine one of your sales executives attempting to sell one of your company’s largest accounts. They access a composite, 360 degree view of that company, and see not only the account history, sales opportunities, contact details, prior email conversations, proposals, contracts, customer service tickets, that customer’s recent comments to a blog post, complaints about service or questions posed within your customer community.
Armed with this knowledge, your sales executive is in a more informed position to better assist and sell to that customer. Without moving data your sales executive has a single, composite view of information that strategically informs the sales process.
Ubiquitous knowledge access allows employees to search where they work. Once you created the central index, you need to provide your employees with anytime/anywhere access to pertinent information and knowledge.
In many organizations, employees spend a lot of their time in MS Outlook. Other organizations with large sales teams need easy access to information on the road. Also valuable is the ability to conduct secure searches within enterprise content directly from a BlackBerry, including guided navigation. Even when systems are disconnected, including laptops, users can easily find information from these systems, directly from their mobile device. Again, without moving data, organizations can enjoy immediate, instant access to pertinent knowledge and information, anywhere, anytime.
Companies that stopped moving data report favorable results of their unified information index layer from multiple repositories such as faster customer issues resolution time, significant reduction in dedicated support resources, savings in upgrade cost for the legacy system which was replaced, increase in self-service customer satisfaction, and reducing average response time to customers' queries.
There are few applications currently in the market that fulfill these functions. These are enterprise search applications.
However, there is no "one fits all" approach. Any solution should be based on organization's business requirements.