So sometimes the hardest thing to do with a customer is to deliver the compelling business case as to why they should deploy a given solution. The options they have on the table are vast from different market players: Google, Endeca, FST so Microsoft partners need to be able to succinctly tell the Microsoft story…so here it is….get yourself a cuppa and settle down for 5 very well invested minutes!!
Beyond Search: Unleashing the Value of Business Information
Search seems like such a simple idea: type a few words into a browser and you’re almost instantly connected to a vast universe of Web sites and documents. It’s a powerful concept that has revolutionized the way we access information and do business. But if search is so simple, why do we spend so much of our time at work trying to find the information we need: an average of 9.5 hours per week, according to a recent study from IDC? Worse, why is that 60-80 percent of the time, we never find the documents we are searching for?
The problem lies in the way business information is collected and stored. Much of the information we need at work is locked in places that traditional, Web-based search never touches: e-mails, documents on colleague’s hard drives or in corporate databases. And that’s just the stuff that exists in digital form: there’s also the information stored away in people’s heads. According to some estimates, this “tacit knowledge” makes up as much as 80 percent of the truly useful information and expertise within a typical organization.
Companies pay a high price for the limits of today’s search methods-$28,000 per employee per year. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, predict that the volume of digital data we store will nearly double in the next two years.
It’s really a two-fold issue; what Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates refers to as information overload and information underload. On one hand, we are inundated with so much information that it has become nearly impossible to keep up. But that is just the beginning of the problem. In business, it’s not enough to just find information. Data doesn’t deliver real value until it is transformed into insight that provides a competitive advantage. This is the issue of information underload: do we have both the right information and the right tools to enable employees to use that information effectively?
Solving these problems requires something much richer than today’s standard Internet-based search. And while a lot of people have been waiting for Google or Yahoo to provide the answer, Microsoft is poised to deliver a new generation of technology innovations that will enable information workers not only to search the Web more effectively, but also to do something much more powerful and valuable: find the information they need no matter where it is stored, share it with colleagues and use it to drive intelligent decision-making.
With the release of Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft is helping businesses bridge the gap between people and information by making search integral to every aspect of the way information is created, managed and used by businesses. Instead of just providing an add-on toolbar or a search page on the Internet, Microsoft is focused on weaving search into the basic fabric of business infrastructure.
The starting point is software that is better tuned to the way businesses create and store information. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 provides a single, central location for storing and managing documents, making it dramatically easier to find and use critical business information. To improve search relevancy, Windows Vista integrates search throughout the operating system and it includes powerful new indexing technologies and algorithms that lay the groundwork for solutions that are capable of searching all types of structured and unstructured business content, from e-mails to information stored in line of business applications to data stored in corporate databases.
One of the biggest barriers to information access in the enterprise is the fact that data resides in so many different locations, from structured solutions like ERP systems to less structured sources such as file shares and internal team portals. This leads to painfully inefficient processes that force people to leave one application, logon to another, find a single piece of data and write it on a piece of paper, and then return to their original application, all just to complete a simple task like sending an email to a customer. The 2007 Microsoft Office system provides the framework for information management solutions that replace this complexity with a single, unified way to get at information, no matter where it resides. That ability extends beyond the desktop to mobile devices as well: with Exchange Server 2007, mobile workers can even search their e-mail to find the key piece of information they need, no matter where they are.
For many businesses, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 will be at the very center of the next generation of end-to-end information management systems. Office SharePoint Server 2007 provides centralized storage for all business documents, giving companies the ability to streamline processes, improve compliance efforts and help keep business information secure. Designed specifically to improve information access, it enables people to connect to business data in common line-of-business applications and search a wide range of common information repositories including file shares, Web sites, portals, public folders and even Notes databases, making it the ideal starting point for any comprehensive enterprise search solution.
Office SharePoint Server 2007 will also help solve one of the most difficult and important information challenges that businesses face: taking full advantage of the knowledge and experience that employees possess. Office SharePoint Server 2007 will offer the capability to track expertise and social networks in an organization so employees can quickly connect to people with the right skills, knowledge and relationships.
There’s no doubt that search has had a profound impact during the last 10 years. But it’s also clear that traditional approaches to search based on indexing Web pages are no longer adequate to meet the needs of business. With the release of Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft is helping companies take an important step toward a new era where the idea of “search” will give way to a notion of seamless access to knowledge. In this new era, repetitive, uninteresting tasks like hunting blindly through Web sites to find a single piece of information, or moving data manually from one system to another will disappear. Instead, employees will be able to focus their time and creative energy on work that generates real value and growth.