Where's the Office Candy? Trick-or-Treating with Search Based Applications

Dan Grady's picture
 By | October 30, 2014
in WebFOCUS, Advanced Analytics, Business Intelligence
October 30, 2014

Search Based Application analyzing tweets for #halloween, #costume, #candy, #trickortreat

It’s Halloween season, and now that I have young children of my own I’ve been reminiscing on my double, double, toil and trouble days.  I’ve decided to save the boisterous shaving cream, eggs, and flour sock stories for when the kids get older. I did, however, describe one experience that shares similarities to a very common business challenge, a challenge many organizations face regarding Information.

When I was a kid, there were certain houses that didn’t give out just one piece of candy; they gave out small bags of candy.  These houses allowed us to maximize our trick-or-treating hours and offered the potential of a much higher Candy ROI than the other houses. Naturally, as children with no concern for dental repercussions, we spent much of our time searching for these houses. 

The information used to drive this search process had 3 main sources:

  • We built up a mental library over the years of the candy bag houses.
  • We passed by other groups of trick-or-treaters and they’d let us know – “the yellow house on the corner has bags”.
  • And sometimes, if we were lucky, we’d stumble upon an unknown house in which the old owners had moved out and been replaced with a new, more valuable candy bag family.

For many organizations, locating necessary business information follows the same inefficient trick-or-treating trajectory.

  •  Experience
  •  Word of Mouth
  •  Luck

Providing a more streamlined process for locating an organization’s information assets is a primary driver for search based solutions.

Unfortunately, many of the search based solutions that are implemented face the same challenges and pitfalls we faced as kids.  The search is only half of the journey.  Finding the houses that gave out candy bags was a critical part of the process. However, not all candy bags were created equal. When I got home and discovered my bag contained nothing but 5 pennies, a tootsie roll, and a stale piece of double bubble—that was not a profitable house. More successful houses were the ones that gave out bags containing a box of Dots, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, and a Bazooka Joe (grape, preferably).

The point is, search is only half of the informational journey we embark on in the business world.  I will do a search to find a customer, but what I really want to know is how long have they been a customer? What is their predicted lifetime value?  I will do a search for an order number to discover, what is its status? When is it expected to arrive?  I will do a search for a product type in my inventory to discover how many do I have in stock? Do I have enough to meet the forecasted demand?

It’s questions and use cases like these that have organizations looking to implement Search Based Applications that leverage the search technology for what it was designed for – finding things – but tightly coupling that search technology with a Business Intelligence or Analytics engine to enable the user to answer all of the follow-up questions.

It is what we’ve successfully done with the Magnify capability of our WebFOCUS Platform, which has provided organizations with a lot more agility in how their users consume information, as well as how they deploy it.

Is your organization one that has people trick-or-treating all year round? If yes, please send pictures of the costumes. But more importantly, take us up on our Feedback Analytics Challenge and we’ll demonstrate how a Search Based Application could make a difference.

Contact me about taking the challenge at dan_grady@ibi.com

Follow me on twitter @tweetgrady