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SharePoint Server 2016 Details Released

May 12, 2015

Some details about the rollout of SharePoint Server 2016 were revealed at the much-anticipated Ignite event in Chicago last week. Microsoft now commits to being on track with the project, making a public beta available in fourth quarter of this year, and “release candidate” and “general availability” versions to follow. Read more in the Redmond Magazine article, “SharePoint Server 2016 Roadmap Highlighted at Ignite Event.”

The article addresses the tension between cloud and on-premises versions:

“While Microsoft has been developing the product based on its cloud learnings, namely SharePoint Online as part of its Office 365 services, those cloud-inspired features eventually will make their way back into the server product. The capabilities that don’t make it into the server will be offered as Office 365 services that can be leveraged by premises-based systems.”

It appears that the delayed timeline may be a “worst case scenario” measure, and that the release could happen earlier. After all, it is better for customers to be prepared for the worst and be pleasantly surprised. To stay in touch with the latest news regarding features and timeline, keep an eye on ArnoldIT.com, specifically the SharePoint feed. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and serves as a great resource for individuals who need access to the latest SharePoint news at a glance.

Emily Rae Aldridge, May 12, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Dichotomy of SharePoint Migration

May 7, 2015

SharePoint Online gets good reviews, but only from critics and those who are utilizing SharePoint for the first time. Those who are sitting on huge on-premises installations are dreading the move and biding their time. It is definitely an issue stemming from trying to be all things to all people. Search Content Management covers the issue in their article, “Migrating to SharePoint Online is a Tale of Two Realities.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft is paving the way for a future that is all about cloud computing and mobility, but it may have to drag some SharePoint users there kicking and screaming. SharePoint enables document sharing, editing, version control and other collaboration features by creating a central location in which to share and save files. But SharePoint users aren’t ready — or enthused about — migrating to . . . SharePoint Online. According to a Radicati Group survey, only 23% of respondents have deployed SharePoint Online, compared with 77% that have on-premises SharePoint 2013.”

If you need to keep up with how SharePoint Online may affect your organization’s installation, or the best ways to adapt, keep an eye on ArnoldIT.com. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and distills the latest tips, tricks, and news on his dedicated SharePoint feed. SharePoint Online is definitely the future of SharePoint, but it cannot afford to get there at the cost of its past users.

Emily Rae Aldridge, May 7, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

Indexing Rah Rah Rah!

May 4, 2015

Enterprise search is one of the most important features for enterprise content management systems and there is huge industry for designing and selling taxonomies.  The key selling features for taxonomies are their diversity, accuracy, and quality.  The categories within taxonomies make it easier for people to find their content, but Tech Target’s Search Content Management blog says there is room improvement in the post: “Search-Based Applications Need The Engine Of Taxonomy.”

Taxonomies are used for faceted search, allowing users to expand and limit their search results.  Faceted search gives users a selection to change their results, including file type, key words, and more of the ever popular content categories. Users usually don’t access the categories, primarily they are used behind the scenes and aggregated the results appear on the dashboard.

Taxonomies, however, take their information from more than what the user provides:

“We are now able to assemble a holistic view of the customer based on information stored across a number of disparate solutions. Search-based applications can also include information about the customer that was inferred from public content sources that the enterprise does not own, such as news feeds, social media and stock prices.”

Whether you know it or not, taxonomies are vital to enterprise search.  Companies that have difficulty finding their content need to consider creating a taxonomy plan or invest in purchasing category lists from a proven company.

Whitney Grace, May 4, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Microsoft Streamlining Update Process for SharePoint 2016

April 9, 2015

One of the most frequent complaints from SharePoint users and administrators is the cumbersome update process. It seems that Microsoft is listening and finally responding. Read more in the Redmond Channel Partner article, “Microsoft To Revamp Update Process for SharePoint 2016.”

The article sums up the news:

“The process of updating SharePoint Server will become less cumbersome in the next version of the product, according to a Microsoft executive. Speaking about the upcoming SharePoint 2016 during an IT Unity-hosted talk last Friday, Bill Baer, a Microsoft senior technical product manager and a Microsoft Certified Master for SharePoint, said that IT pros will get smaller updates and that applying them will entail less downtime for organizations.”

Less downtime for organizations will be a welcome change. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime search expert, and has followed SharePoint through its ups and downs. He often finds that though SharePoint is the most widely adopted enterprise solution, its complicated nature and poor user experience often lead to perceived failures. Keep up with the latest SharePoint news on ArnoldIT.com, specifically the dedicated SharePoint feed, to determine if the streamlining of updates leads to higher marks for SharePoint.

Emily Rae Aldridge, April 9, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Exalead Chases Customer Support

January 16, 2015

On Exalead’s blog in the post, “Build Customer Interaction For Tomorrow,” the company examines how startups, such as AirBnb, Uber, online banks, and others dedicated to services, have found success. The reason is they have made customer service a priority through the Internet and using applications that make customer service an easy experience. This allowed the startups to enter the oversaturated market and become viable competition.

They have been able to make customer service a priority, because they have eliminated the barriers that come between clients and the companies.

“First of all, they have to communicate with agility inside the company. When you have numerous colleagues, all specialized in a particular function, the silos have to break down. Nothing can be accomplished without efficient cooperation between teams. The aim: transform internal processes and then boost customer interaction.

Next, external communication, headed by the customer. Each firm has to know its clients in order to respond to their needs. The first step was to develop Big Data technologies. Today we have to go further: create a real 360° view of the customer by enriching data. It’s the only way to answer customer challenges, especially in the multi-channel era.”

The startups have changed the tired, old business model that has been used since the 1980s. The 1980s was solid for the shoulder pads and Aqua Net along with the arguably prosperous economy, but technology and customer relations have changed. Customers want to feel like they are not just another piece of information. They want to connect with a real person and have their problems resolved. New ways to organization information and harness data provide many solutions for customer service, but there are still industries that are forgetting to make the customer the priority.

Whitney Grace, January 16, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Customers Dissatisfied with SharePoint Online Cuts

December 23, 2014

Certain SharePoint Online features are being phased out. Rumor has it that Public Sites may be the next to go. But in a world where knowing, preparing, and bracing for change is really valuable, Microsoft isn’t talking. ZDNet covers the breaking story in their article, “Microsoft Users Not Happy Over Quiet SharePoint Online Feature Cuts.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft announced the company would enable its business customers to stay on top of the rollout of the myriad moving parts of Microsoft’s Office 365 service. The Office 365 Roadmap site would become a central site for many (but not all) Office 365 features that were announced, rolling out or being nixed before they debuted, officials said. But in the past couple of months, Microsoft has been eliminating quietly some SharePoint Online features — with more possible eliminations to come. Finding out about those planned cuts isn’t as easy as it should be, customers say.”

Stephen E. Arnold has been covering search, including enterprise, for the span of his career. He reports his findings on ArnoldIT.com. This SharePoint online rumor is a good example of a time in which it’s important to have outside sources. Arnold reports the latest SharePoint news, rumor, tips, and tricks on his SharePoint feed, and users may find it most helpful when attempting to brace for the impact of changes such as those mentioned above.

Emily Rae Aldridge, December 23, 2014

Why I Dismiss Search Vendors Who Sell Customer Service Solutions

November 13, 2014

I have had feedback over the years about the baloney generated by mid tier consultants, struggling enterprise search vendors, and failed webmasters about their expertise in customer service.

Customer service means cost cutting or worse to me. I ignore the silliness of Comcast apologists too.

I wish to offer a tiny bit of possibly true information from the annals of real customer service; that is, attention to customers the it is, not as it is supposed to be.

Navigate to http://bit.ly/112cWdc. Allegedly this is a “real” letter from a former Amazonian to big cheese bits at the digital WalMart with drones, Amazon.

As I read this allegedly accurate epistle, a person asserts that the digital WalMart wanted an Amazon professional (now apparently seeking a future elsewhere) to prevaricate. Here’s the passage I highlighted:

I tried to get Amazon to address what I believe to be misleading and deceptive, and possibly criminal ?nancial fraud issues related treatment of an Amazon advertising customer while I was an employee at the company. I was subsequently terminated for raising the internal ethics complaint even though Amazon’s own policies require that employees report events of this nature. To be terminated for that is wrong and is the subject of current litigation which I have asked the Washington Attorney General’s office to assist in resolving, since it deals with important issues related to misleading,deceptive, and what I believe to be ?nancially fraudulent trade practices that relate to Amazon customers and employees.

Is this perhaps the first instance of alleged misconduct in the handling of “customer service” issues? If so, mark it down. If not, my views of customer service have been affirmed.

Stephen E Arnold, November 13, 2014

Enterprise Search, Knowledge Management, & Customer Service: Some of the Study Stuff Ups Evident?

October 27, 2014

One of my two or three readers sent me a link to “The 10 Stuff Ups We All Make When Interpreting Research.” The article walks through some common weaknesses individuals make when “interpreting research.” I don’t agree with the “all” in the title.

This article arrived as I was reading a recent study about search. As an exercise on a surprisingly balmy Sunday afternoon in Kentucky, I jotted down the 10 “stuff ups” presented in the Interpreting Research article. Here they are in my words, paraphrased to sidestep plagiarism, copyright, and Google duplication finder issues:

  1. One study, not a series of studies. In short, an anomaly report.
  2. One person’s notion of what is significant may be irrelevant.
  3. Mixing up risk and the Statistics 101 notion of “number needed to treat” gets the cart before the horse.
  4. Trends may not be linear.
  5. Humans find what they want to find; that is, pre existing bias or cooking the study.
  6. Ignore the basics and layer cake the jargon.
  7. Numbers often require context. Context in the form of quotes in one on one interviews require numbers.
  8. Models and frameworks do not match reality; that is, a construct is not what is.
  9. Specific situations do matter.
  10. Inputs from colleagues may not identify certain study flaws.

To test the article’s premises, I I turned to a study sent to me by a persona named Alisa Lipzen. Its title is “The State of Knowledge Management: 2014. Growing role & Value of Unified Search in Customer Service.” (If the link does not work for you, you will have to contact either of the sponsors, the Technology Services Industry Association or Coveo, an enterprise search vendor based in Canada.) You may have to pay for the report. My copy was free. Let’s do a quick pass through the document to see if it avoids the “stuff ups.”

First, the scope of the report is broad:

1. Knowledge management. Although I write a regular column for KMWorld, I must admit that I am not able to define exactly what this concept means. Like many information access buzzwords, the shotgun marriage of “knowledge” and “management” glues together two abstractions. In most usages, knowledge management refers to figuring out what a person “knows” and making that information available to others in an organization. After all, when a person quits, having access to that person’s “knowledge” has a value. But “knowledge” is as difficult to nail down as “management.” I suppose one knows it when one encounters it.

2. Unified search. The second subject is “unified search.” This is the idea that a person can use a single system to locate information germane to a query from a single search box. Unified suggests that widely disparate types of information are presented in a useful manner. For me, the fact that Google, arguably the best resourced information access company, has been unable to deliver unified search. Note that Google calls its goal “universal search.” In the 1980s, Fulcrum Technologies (Ottawa, Canada) search offered a version of federated search. In 2014, Google requires that a user run a query across different silos of information; for example, if I require informatio0n about NGFW I have to run the query across Google’s Web index, Google scholarly articles, Google videos, Google books, Google blogs, and Google news. This is not very universal. Most “unified” search solutions are marketing razzle dazzle for financial, legal, technical, and other reasons. Therefore, organizations have to have different search systems.

3. Customer service. This is a popular bit of jargon. The meaning of customer service, for me, boils down to cost savings. Few companies have the appetite to pay for expensive humans to deal with the problems paying customers experience. Last week, I spent one hour on hold with an outfit called Wellcare. The insurance company’s automated system reassured me that my call was important. The call was never answered. What did I learn. Neither my call nor my status as a customer was important. Most information access systems applied to “customer service” are designed to drive the cost of support and service as low as possible.

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“Get rid of these expensive humans,” says the MBA. “I want my annual bonus.”

I was not familiar with the TSIA. What is its mission? According the the group’s Web site:

TSIA is organized around six major service disciplines that address the major service businesses found in a typical technology company.

Each service discipline has its own membership community led by a seasoned research executive. Additionally, each service discipline has the following:

In addition, we have a research practice on Service Technology that spans across all service discipline focus areas.

My take is that TSIA is a marketing-oriented organization for its paying members.

Now let’s look at some of the the report’s key findings:

The people, process, and technology components of technology service knowledge management (KM) programs. This year’s survey examined core metrics and practices related to knowledge capture, sharing, and maintenance, as well as forward-looking elements such as video, crowd sourcing, and expertise management. KM is no longer just of interest to technical support and call centers. The survey was open to all TSIA disciplines, and 50% of the 400-plus responses were from groups other than support services, including 24% of responses from professional services organizations.

Read more

Open Source CRM Pulls in Open Source Search

October 8, 2014

I read “12 Open Source CRM Options.” I think of CRM as a synonym for customer experience or CRM as an easy way to suck down a top salesperson’s contact list when he or she heads to greener pastures. I know. I am shortsighted.

The write up surprised me because I did not know there were a dozen open source CRM solutions, components, or widgets. I assumed there were the big buck systems from Oracle and Salesforce.com. I was uninformed.

I had heard of SugarCRM because one of the proprietary search vendors supports the system. I had not heard of:

Vtiger (a variant of SugarCRM), SuiteCRM, Fat Free CRM, Odoo, Zurmo, EspoCRM, SplendidCRM, OpenCRX, X2Engfine, Concourse Suite, or CentraView.

Well, there you.

My reaction to this basket of “suites” is that search is going to be part of the offering. When the baked in solution falls short, then the licensees will look for more robust solutions. For me, that means taking a look at the open source search solutions. ElasticSearch and Sphinx Search come to mind, but there are others.

I would not be too keen to license one of the proprietary search systems for three reasons:

  1. Try open source and if it works, the money can be used for other things. Raises or hiring a tastier consultant
  2. There are satisfactory information retrieval solutions that run from the cloud, on premises, or in a hybrid mode
  3. The hassles of integrating an open source and a proprietary system can be sidestepped. Integration is never a walk in the park, but it seems that open source begets open source.

Stephen E Arnold, October 8, 2014

Clarabridge: Modified Positioning

September 22, 2014

I noted that Clarabridge has modified its marketing for the push to year end revenues. The company continues to use “customer experience” as a code work for customer support. The phrase “customer support” has become a go to reference for some stand up comedians. Customer service is now a “frontier,” not a method for reducing costs. The company is using the bound phrase “your voice” as a way to signal listening to individuals. The notion was parroted in “Clarabridge’s New Customer Service Frontier: Your Voice.” The article asserts:

Clarabridge, a Reston-based company that gathers and analyzes customer sentiment for a range of industries, is adding a noisy new feedback channel: speech.

Clarabridge ingested $80 million in venture funding. Some of the original investors have benefited from this infusion of money. Clarabridge at one time had staff with some expertise in MicroStrategy technology. Clarabridge will use some of the funding to amplify its content marketing activities in order to drive more sales leads.

How quickly will the enterprise search vendors “pivoting” to the customer support market adopt this terminology? Pretty quickly I anticipate.

My principal concern is that

Stephen E Arnold,  September 22, 2014

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