Enterprise Search – How do you find what you know?
By Michael Kogon, CEO Definition 6
Whether you are the CEO of a “backed” company or you view yourself as a shareholders’ advocate, you are charged with creating and capitalizing on the intellectual property of your organization. When employees leave or divisions disappear, valuable knowledge is left sitting on your hard drives, shared servers and back up systems. How do you find that information? How do you find what you know?
Recently, I was sitting in a meeting of Fortune 500 CIOs and a participant shared that the amount of information at his organization was doubling every 3 years. That amounted to 5 TB of information being created each year and they were losing track of it all. Another CEO of a smaller organization mentioned a similar problem – every time someone left the company it was as if the information disappeared, including the employee manual, the PowerPoint sales pitch and the Excel work plan. When I asked about his use of shared drives and his backup protocol, he responded with, “If you were not there when the document was saved, you don’t know where to find it”. These examples may be confusing at first glance – which reinforces my idea that it is not about knowing what you know or knowing what you knew, it is about finding what you know and making sense of it.
The solution begins with enterprise search.
Google is definitely at the forefront of on-line search. They are a clear leader in indexing the vast content of the web and making search by end-users exceedingly simple with highly relevant results available in milliseconds. Much of the same search technology that powers their on-line engine is also available to provide the same capabilities within the enterprise. Google’s tools such as the Google Mini, Google Search Appliance, and Google Desktop Search allow you to index and search the vast array of enterprise knowledge and information including office documents, internal and external web pages, network file stores, financials, and data held in ERP and CRM systems all with the same simplicity and relevancy of Google.com.
With the releases of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and MOSS (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server) 2007, Microsoft has made tremendous strides towards helping users to rapidly find and utilize enterprise knowledge with increased productivity. They have built search into every aspect of the enterprise end-user experience from the desktop to the collaborative hubs that link them together and they have made it a seamless experience. From their desktops and Intranet Portals users can easily find and collaborate around the office on documents like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, where the bulk of information that is created by knowledge workers resides. MOSS search technology allows you to quickly find relevant information and utilize it by using the tools people are most familiar with. The search technology also extends out into other sources such as internal and external web pages or content of shared network file stores.
Ultimately, most organizations will need to rely on a combination of the two systems . With Microsoft you can have a solution that is organized by department and workflow. Google comes into play by finding data that is located across departments, workflows, and systems like within an Oracle database or in a cad diagram. A combination of the two solutions will help you find what you know, when you need to know it.
Your responsibility is to convert shareholder dollars into value and it is your responsibility as the CEO to help your organization find what it needs to know. The good news is that, thanks to new technologies, you can now look back into all of the data that you have ever had and better find the information that you need. Moving forward, you can develop systems to make sure that your valuable intellectual capital does not walk out the door .
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