Searching for Answers with U2

Dan Grady's picture
 By | August 13, 2013
in Business Intelligence, enterprise search, Search, U2
August 13, 2013

Photo by Kevin Dooley

I have been traveling across North America speaking about the challenges and opportunities that hot technology trends present to all of us. The topics include Cloud, Big Data, Social Media, Predictive Analytics, and Mobile, to name a few. I have also been discussing the impact of these trends on how we use information as part of our Summer Shorts webcast series.  If you haven’t already done so, please register – these sessions are a great way to learn something new in a short amount of time.  

On a recent trip, I got to listening to some classic U2.  As their hit “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” rang out of my headsets, it made me realize this would make for a perfect anthem for employees of most organizations – and guess what? It’s another hot trend worth exploring.

Ask yourself this question – “When you are at home and have a question, what do you do?”

More than likely you go to your search engine of choice, type in the question and get an answer.

Now play out that same scenario when you get to the office.  When a question arises and you need an answer… where do you go?

Studies have shown that employees spend on average 1 to 3 hours a day looking for information.    

There may be 10 different places you could go to look for that information, and even if you know the right place to look, each of those specific applications probably has a specific interface, and even if you know how to use that interface, chances are you’re probably duplicating content that already exists but you just couldn’t find.  Ultimately, you just contributed to the information overload and cluttered corporate content mess.

Compound that problem with heightened expectations and impatience we experience because we’re getting so accustomed to Google and other search engines. Search engines have become an extension of our brain – the way we naturally look for answers. Mobile search is making this behavior even more pervasive. 

Most organizations out there are “Stuck in a Moment”, looking for ways to bring that Google-like experience to the work place.

Unlike the information we seek at home, most of the valuable information we need in the workplace is stored in various databases or applications, in the cloud or on premise, and in both structured and unstructured fashions. That’s the challenge.

Even if you could make all of that content searchable, (which you can) that’s only half the solution.

Search is designed to help you find things: a person, a place, a product, an order, a trade, a shipment, a document, an invoice, a customer, etc…  There are so many things to look for, but in the end, when it comes to the enterprise, search alone doesn't give you what you're really looking for - the answers.

To truly complete any informational journey, you need to marry that search engine with an analytics platform to ask and answer all the follow-up questions.  For example, once you find a customer order, Where is it? Is it on time?  How much has the customer spent over the past three years? Are they a retention risk? What's their projected lifetime value?

Here’s another specific scenario: A chemical used in some of your products has been deemed unfit and you need to orchestrate a recall.  You need to quickly understand how big of a problem this is from a business perspective.  You could search for that chemical across your product catalog system to see that there are 4 products that contain this chemical.  That would give you some indication of the size of the problem, but imagine if you could link directly from those search results to a report that detailed sales over the last 3 years, inventory and on-order quantities.  Now you can see your total exposure to risk and plan accordingly.

It’s this unique marriage of Search and Business Analytics that will bring “Elevation” to the user experience and silence those refrains of “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”.

Because ultimately what everyone is looking for is “One” place to go, not just for information, but for answers.  “One” place to go to start and finish any informational journey.

Once we have that, it’ll be a “Beautiful Day”.

If you want more info, view my webcast on Enterprise Search here.